The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame is sad to report that Ed Garlits, brother of BDRHoF member Don Garlits, passed away March 18th. Don had been with Ed every day since he went into the hospital, he was moved to the Hospice the night of the IDRHOF banquet and obviously Don could not attend as he was helping with the move.
Ed Garlits, born on December 30, 1933, in Limona, Florida, entered into the sport of Drag Racing after serving in the United States Marines in 1952. entered into the sport of Drag Racing In his first competition he raced a 1932, Buick powered, Ford Roadster. Wanting to go faster Ed installed the Buick engine into a C/Gas Dragster that he and his brother, Don Garlits, built-in Don’s Garage. Ed christened the car the “Banana”. In the cars first event in Miami, Florida Ed won Florida State Championship event. Ed and Don would build several versions of the “Swamp Rat Too” dragster that Ed would drive. These famous “Swamp Rat Toos” would carry Ed to four Florida State Championships (1957,1958,1960,1961) and an AHRA National Gas Championship in 1961.
Ed would then make the hard decision to continue racing or get married. Ed chose to get married and retired from driving. During this time, he took over the running of Don’s Garage in Tampa so that his brother, Don Garlits, could go racing full-time.
After his divorce Ed jumped back into drag racing not has a driver, but as the Crew Chief for Don from 1974-1978. 1978 was a very successful season for Don and is a season which will always be a part of Drag Racing history. In 1992 Ed would again return to Drag Racing by being a member of Don’s crew. For the next three years, Ed was the Clutch Man on Swamp Rat 32 & Swamp Rat 34 Mono-Wing dragsters. Ed’s mechanical knowledge was an attribute to the success of his brother racing career.
On March 12, 2009, Ed was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a driver, and the success he had as the Crew Chief and a Crew Member for his brother’s racing team.
In the early 2000’s Ed was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Ed fought the long and hard battle for about 20 years, but unfortunately on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, after this long fight Ed passed away. He is survived by brother Don Garlits, his sons Eddie, Billy, and David Garlits; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his nieces Gay Lyn Capitano and Donna Garlits.