Drag racing legend Don Garlits is concerned for the safety of the top two nitro classes.
Garlits made these comments while appearing as a guest on the Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain show on SPEED Channel.
“We’re in a tough spot,” said Garlits to Despain, responding to a question about drag racing safety. “I’ll tell it like it is. The cars should be slowed down. There are rules and they say, ‘Top Fuel’s supposed be no rules.’ We should go back to quarter-mile racing, I hate to say that. I know that will go against the grain of some people.
“The race is a quarter-mile. It always has been. It was only shortened to 1,000 feet for safety concerns. It was supposed to be temporary while they [NHRA] deal with these cars. It would be a very good thing to do that because the cars need to go back to quarter-mile and just under the 300 mile per hour mark.
“They could held that way easy with tires and wing, fuel pumps. There’s a lot to do. You can’t expect the crews to do that, their job is to make it go faster. That’s all they want to know. That’s all they do. They need someone else to get in there and say this is how it is going to be. We are going back to quarter-mile; this is the rules, like it or love it.”
Garlits went on to suggest that he believes if the NHRA slows the cars to the point these cars could safely race quarter-mile, a precedent exists which suggests slowing for safety wouldn’t hurt the quality of the on-track product.
“NASCAR slowed the cars down and the fans still came to the races,” Garlits said. “Fans want to see side-by-side racing. They want to see a more even playing field. The rules that would be implemented to slow the cars down to just under 300 in the quarter-mile would level the field for the underfunded teams. The parts are so good today that when you take that kind of horsepower out of the engine, it will last a long time.”
Garlits also believes the NHRA should take away 1500 to 2000 from the current nitro race engines.
“There is no place in side-by-side automobile racing for an 8,000 horsepower engine,” Garlits said. “They’re just too dangerous. I like to go fast and would like to know what the absolute limit is of acceleration.”
Garlits proposes an annual event where the timing blocks would be removed from the center of the track, utilizing the whole track and run one car at a time.
“The gloves are off, let’s see how fast they will go,” Garlits said. “No spectators beside the track … if they blow up they blow up. It’s the guy and the machine; I bet they go 350 miles per hour.”