Drag racing legend Don “Big Daddy” Garlits” holds more speed records than perhaps any other living person, and is often credited as a founding father of modern drag racing. So when Garlits and Lawless Industries put their support behind the Quest For 200 (QF 200) electric drag racer (renamed the Swamp Rat 37 in Garlit’s honor), it was big, big news in both the electric and motorsports world.
But on Monday, Garlits failed for a second time in his quest to reach 200 MPH once again…and now a new rival made up of former teammates is making a play to reach this important speed milestone first. A new QF 200 team has arisen made up of many key members of Garlit’s Swamp Rat, and they’ve recruited the talented and beautiful Top Fuel racer Melanie Troxel to drive their sleek new electric dragster.This rivalry has all the trappings of a national news story, as a young woman challenges an old racing legend in an attempt to be the first person to take an electric dragster past 200 MPH in the span of a quarter-mile. And it will be good for more than just one particular team.
The National Electric Drag Racing Association, or NEDRA, has been around for awhile now, operating mostly on the fringe of the drag racing world, with a few particularly fast members making the news in the past few years. But reaching this milestone could very well catapult NEDRA into the national spotlight. Fans love rivalries, and the one heating up between Garlits and the QF 200 team is sure to get people talking.
So why the split? According to the QF 200 press release, “the differences between QF200 and Don Garlits / Shawn Lawless reached the point of our separation from the project, although not of our choosing. We believe that those differences have since spoken for themselves in the performance of the vehicle.”
Them’s fightin’ words, especially since Garlit’s Monday attempt only topped out at 175 MPH, coming up short of his record run of 185 MPH in April 2014, and far short of 200. A new battery was supposed to give the six electric motors enough oomph to offset the extra 400 pounds of weight, but on the third (and fastest) run of the day, Swamp Rat 37 was running on just four motors. On the fifth and final run, one of those motors burned out, ending the day’s record attempt.
Meanwhile the QF 200 team has taken on many key members of Garlit’s crew and is utilizing a new inline motor configuration, compared to the six motors used by Swamp Rat 37. Just one of these teams can be the first to 200 MPH in an electric dragster, though the real winners will be the growing legion of EV racing fans. If you ask me, it’s only a matter of time before NEDRA rivals…and eventually eclipses the NHRA. Don’t think it can happen? Watch this video of a Tesla P85D embarrassing a 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat, and maybe you’ll reconsider your stance.
Meanwhile, I’ll be over here enjoying a front row seat to the next generation of power and speed wars.