This is a journey through a period of time for drag racing fastest class, Top Fuel dragsters. It covers a mere 18 months, broken down in two books, Part 1, and Part 2 which together represent a miniscule portion of the sport which started in the early fifties and is still going strong today. The people featured within these two separate accounts, shaped and manoeuvred the sport like no other time frame in its history. They were influenced by how it was done in the past but they pushed through technical boundaries which seemingly existed at the time to launch a new chapter which spawned the beast that we see today – the rear engine dragster (R.E.D.). If necessity was the mother of invention then its father was creativity.  

The events involved in this capsule of chaos have become folk lore within the sport. Probably the most talked about two events in drag racing history become the bookends of these books. Part 1 opens with the race at Lions Drag Strip in  Long Beach, California, March 8th, 1970 and Part 2 ends with the Indy Nationals September 7th, 1971. The events of these historic two days are chronicled and examined in detail as never before, showing what really happened at the sports most famous venues of the day, and dispelling rumours and flat out misunderstandings of what went down there.

They were also the very first and the very last race by drag racing’s most revered rear engine dragster – Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat 14.


In Part 1, we feature the March, 8th, 1970 race that put Garlits in the hospital and on the sideline. That race, which only lasted 40 feet for him. Part 1 ends right where the secret build of the new R.E.D. is completed and the Garlits Boys are packing up to head out west to showcase this new design.


In Part 2 we take you through the step by step account of this historic machine, Swamp Rat 14, and ends with the Indy Nationals September 7, 1971, and Garlits’ astonishing elapsed time that lasted 40 years, and counting.

It starts with with the dramatic unvieling of this new radical machine at Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, Ca, the very same track Garlits has his life-changing accident just nine months earlier. On through the year with historic victories, dramatic car configurations changes, and ends with the famous, “Meltdown at Indy”, one of the most talked about events in drag racing history. Insights and analysis from the sports biggest names from the era including Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Carl Olson, John Wiebe and Jim Nicoll. 


New Zealand Hot Rod Magazine