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1980’s – Drag Racing 14 : Garlits & Hill


Drag Racing #14 : Garlits & Hill


1-DVD (126 minutes)

Two excellent documentaries on 1980’s NHRA Top Fuel
legends “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Eddie “Thrill” Hill.


The Swamp Rat – Don Garlits (1987) – 54 min
A great documentary, rescued from an old VHS tape! This vintage video is a great time capsule showing how the
legendary ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits operated at the track and in the pits, circa 1987. Garlits provides informal
interviews while wrenching on Swamp Rat XXX, preparing for a test run Art Malone’s Desoto Raceway before the
1987 season, and then later at an NHRA event. This is NOT a highlight reel of Big Daddy’s career, but rather what I
believe is a far more fascinating look at Garlits personality at the track. One of the things that endured so many fans
to Big Daddy was that he was always a hands-on racer, involved in all aspects of his famous Swamp Rat dragsters;
designing, tuning, building, and of course driving. He was not one to sit in a trailer while his crew worked on his car
between rounds! Also in this documentary is his daughter Donna, and of course his wonderful wife Pat. Towards the
end of this video, Garlits eventually sits down (with his wife Pat at his side) and discusses his fondest memories over
his amazing career. This is an old Main Event Production video, and for fans of Big Daddy, it really feels like you’re
standing alongside him in his pits as he prepares Swamp Rat XXX.

THRILL! – The Eddie Hill Story (1988) – 72 min
Another vintage Main Event Production rescued from an old VHS tape! One of the most popular and beloved racers
ever in Top Fuel, and one of my personal favorites, we have Texan Eddie “Thrill” Hill. Eddie raced Top Fuel in the
1950’s and 1960’s, and created a few innovations that drag racing fans may not be aware of. He built the first
dragster to use the engine as a stressed member, he was the first to use small front wheels on a dragster (he used
Cushman front wheels), and he was the first driver to do a burnout to heat up the rear tires. Eddie left Top Fuel and
changed over to motorcycles before making the transition to drag boats in the 1970’s and 1980’s, setting all sorts
of records along the way. After a devastating drag boat crash, Eddie returned to Top Fuel drag racing in 1985.
Though underfunded, he eventually retained sponsorship and had great success. In 1988 he became the first drag
racer to crack the coveted 4-second barrier, a moment that fans of 1980’s drag racing will never forget. Eddie and
his wife Ercie were enormously popular. Fans loved their down-to-earth values, Texas hospitality, and Eddie’s
positive attitude. This is a very clear video, with tremendous stereo sound (and a somewhat overdone channel
separation when people are speaking), but one of the best period profiles ever on a drag racer. Crank this one up!