GARLITS RAT ROAST WRAP-UP
By Steve Cole
On Saturday evening, February 11, the Sheraton Inn – Fairplex’s Vineyard Ballroom (Pomona, Calif.), was filled to capacity with drag racing legends, NHRA Full Throttle World Champions, performance aftermarket industry figures and fans to honor everyone’s “Big Daddy” – Don Garlits – who set the sport’s Gold Standard across his racing career of 56 years. The “Don Garlits 80th Birthday Rat Roast” was hailed as one of the highlights of the 52nd Annual NHRA Winternationals, the opening event of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season.
The event was presented by the National Hot Rod Association to benefit the Quarter Mile Foundation and its PROJECT 1320 documentary film mission to chronicle drag racing’s history using first person interviews of the surviving pioneers and legends.
The overflow crowd was held captive by stories from the seven roasters – Jerry (“The King”) Ruth, Dave McClelland, Tommy (“TV Tommy”) Ivo, Ed Pink, Ed (“The Camfather”) Iskenderian, Sid Waterman and Don (”The Snake”) Prudhomme, and then the Garlits rebuttals. Master of Ceremonies, Bob Frey, made the show move smoothly, and added his humor to the event. Several little known stories came to the surface, a few rumors were confirmed or buried, and laughter and applause were the order of the evening. An auction of some historical drag racing memorabilia items added to the high spirits of the evening.
“The Don Garlits 80th Birthday ‘Rat Roast’ was a wonderful evening and a fitting tribute to a man who has epitomized the sport from its early days,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. “We were proud to orchestrate and stage this gala event for the benefit of the Quarter Mile Foundation and also raise awareness for its worthwhile and important mission.”
Traci Hrudka, Chairman of the Quarter Mile Foundation said, “This event turned out to be very close to what we envisioned when it was first conceived. The staff of the NHRA’s Marketing and Communications Departments worked very hard to make this a very memorable event.
“We heard high praise from all of those in attendance about the evening’s warmth and high energy, which was the frosting on a highly successful event.
“We were blessed to have the NHRA believe in the Foundation’s undertaking to do this documentary and to have the support of so many companies, racers and fans to make it an entertainment and financial success. The funds which were raised will be a tremendous help in getting to the legends and pioneers of drag racing and the performance aftermarket, and to get their historical perspectives on tape for posterity.
“In addition to the success of the Roast, we were able to get an additional 14 interviews recorded over the weekend. That was a major plus as well!”
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