Don Garlits’ Museum of Drag Racing
Don Garlits is on a mission with his museum. It’s been the personal obsession of the Patriarch of Drag Racing for the past 34 years to establish a home for the International Drag Racing Hall Of Fame. The goal is to preserve the history of drag racing for all associations around the world. That’s an ambitious goal, but if anyone can pull it together it’s Big Daddy. The museum is also home to Super Stock Magazine’s Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
The majority of Swamp Rat dragsters from 1 to 34 (though a couple are recreations), including the influential rear-engine Swamp Rat 14, are present along with plenty of history and stories about them straight from Don. It’s not just Don’s stuff though; there’s also an unbelievable collection of other historic drag cars from all the big names—Jungle Jim, Connie Kalitta, and Tom McEwen to name a few. Beyond drag, the museum also houses Don’s personal classic car collection. Even the Little Red Wagon Wheelstander is there! Matter of fact, you might even spot Don himself walking around; he’s there regularly when not consulting for Top Fuel Teams.
Don Garlits’ Museum of Drag Racing
Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum
Starting with a black ’70 Chevelle purchased in 1975, Floyd Garrett amassed over the next 36 years a collection of over 90 of the most sought after and dreamed about muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s, with a sampling of important cars from the ’50s as well. An accomplished muscle car expert, Floyd tries to bring back a bit of the magic of that era in automotive history when horsepower and attitude were what mattered most.
As Floyd says: “90 cars worth over $8 million!” Honestly, there is just about any high-profile, high-horsepower muscle car, from LS6 Chevelles to Boss Mustangs, ZL1 Camaros, and Hemi ’Cudas. Floyd is still collecting, so there may be more cars added soon.
Floyd GarretT’s Muscle Car Museum
The Gilmore actually began as just one car—a ’20 Pierce-Arrow project—that Donald’s wife, Genevieve, gave to him back in 1963. Following the full restoration of that car, Donald’s new hobby quickly grew into a 30-car collection. That led to the purchase of 90 acres and the moving of several historic barns to the site to house everything. Today the museum actually consists of several sites includes eight historic barns, a re-created 1930s service station, a small town train station, and nearly three miles of paved roads, and it’s not unusual to see museum cars out for a cruise.
The picture-perfect 1930s Shell gas station is a perennial favorite; we recognize it from many readers’ rides photos. The re-created Franklin dealership from Los Angeles circa 1910 is another must-see. For 2011, their popular History of Stock Car Racing and Ford Muscle and Super Cars exhibits are headlining. If you’re into emblems, the Gilmore also has one of the country’s largest displays of automotive hood ornaments and name badges.
While it is a massive museum with one of the world’s best collections of historic automobiles of every conceivable type and brand (not just Fords!), the Henry Ford houses actually so much more than that. The nine-acre structure is nothing less than an attempt to “document the genius of ordinary people by recognizing and preserving the objects they used in the course of their everyday lives.” From cars and planes to diners and houses, travel, and even exhibits on Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln, the Henry Ford is quite a slice of American history. That flows outside as well into the Greenfield Village, which is an 80-acre time machine that includes 83 authentic, historic structures, from Noah Webster’s home, where he wrote the first American dictionary, to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, to the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, and the Wright Brothers’ workshop where their first plane was built.