Thursday, February 21, 2013

Visit to the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

Yesterday we took a trip to the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala.  Bob used to drag race a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner back in the day.  He loved that car, and had a blast racing it on the street and at Atco Race Track.  That street driven car ran in the 13.20's at 102 mph, with the best time being a 13.12. Today his son Rob races a 1971 Challenger RT at Atco, and has won lots of trophies and money for years now.  The Challenger RT below is running times around 11.5 - it's a great car, and Rob is a terrific driver.

Rob Perrottet's 1971 Challenger RT

Naturally, with all this drag racing history, Bob has been wanting to go to the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in nearby Ocala.  Whether or not you're a drag racing enthusiast, this is a great place to visit.  There are two sections to the museum - an antique car museum, and a drag racing museum.

Take a look at some of the beautiful cars that we saw in the antique car section.
1947 Studebaker Dump Truck

1934 Ford Station Wagon

1936 Ford Phaeton
This is a very rare car.  Only 555 of these Fords were produced.

1950 Mercury Lead Sled
The original "Happy Days" car driven by the Fonz on the famous TV show, this beauty was restored by Big Daddy in 1990.  The sign says that Big Daddy cruised this car in Ocala on Friday nights.

1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger RT
This car went 140 mph - one of the fastest factory cars ever built.

1958 Chrysler Convertible

1956 Chrysler
Mami Eisenhower bought this car for Ike's birthday.  She had it specially built.  It came with a custom 45 rpm record player installed so that Ike could listen to his favorite music.

Dodge Coronet 500

This car was donated by Naomi Tillet in honor of her husband Jack.  This was Jack's favorite race car, and he won many races in it.

1940 Willys 4 door Sedan

Bob thinks that this beautiful truck is a Willys, but since there was no sign on it, we're not sure.

And now for the Drag Racing part of the museum......

1981 Swamprat 27 Sidewinder

In 1975, this car set the N.H.R.A record at 250.69 mph with 5.63 E.T.  That record held for 7 years.

The parts of Don's car after his accident in 1970

Don's accident in 1970

That accident cost Don part of his foot.  He was lucky to get out alive.

Darrell Alderman's Champion Pro Stock 1991 Dodge Daytona

Bob saw this car race at Englishtown.

Shirley Muldowney's 1980 Attebury Car
Shirley Muldowney, probably the greatest woman driver of all times, raced this car.  Bob and I both saw Shirley race at Englishtown.

2005 Top Fuel Engine
This engine put out 8000 horsepower @ 7000 rpms!

2012 Dodge Challenger A Stock Automatic
You can actually purchase this car - as a body in white - from the factory.  Ready to race!!!

Dodge 1962 Factory Max Wedge
You used to be able to buy the Dodge Factory Max Wedge show above.

61 Plymouth Max Wedge
You could also buy this 1961 Plymouth from the factory.

Bruce Larson's 65 Chevelle Funny Car
This car ran for the first time at Atco NJ (our local drag strip).

Barbara Hamilton's 1937 Willys Coupe
Barbara Hamilton was the first woman to receive an N.H.R.A license for driving super-charged cars.

I've only shown but a few of this huge collection of wonderful cars.  If you get a chance when you're in the Ocala area, this museum is really worth seeing.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lots of Manatees in Salt Springs!

Manatee in Salt Springs, FL
We went for a canoe ride a few days ago, and there were plenty of manatees right off of the dock.  There must have been at least a dozen of them.  We paddled over to them, and watched them for about an hour as they fed on the sea grass   They swam right under the canoe a few times.  They are so enormous that I'll bet they could easily tip the canoe over if they decided to surface.  Fortunately for us, that didn't happen.  There was a mother with a baby, which was really neat to see.  What wasn't good to see were the scars on a couple of the manatees where they had gotten clipped by boat propellers.  They're drawn towards the sound of the motor, and unfortunately many people don't cut their engines when there in these waters.

Manatee in Salt Springs feeding on sea grass

The manatees in Salt Springs are West Indian Manatees, whose average length is 10 feet and average weight between 800 and 1,200 pounds.  They're related to elephants, and I can see the genetic connection in their wrinkled grey skin.

The ones in Salt Springs seem huge!  They are such gentle giants, and seem to enjoy human contact.  The other day there were people swimming with them, and actually petting them.  Here's a picture of a manatee right by a boat that was next to us, with the girl almost touching it.  How neat is that!

The manatees will stay in Salt Springs while it's cool, and travel to Lake George once that water gets warmer.  They're drawn to the warm water in Salt Springs, because it's always 72 degrees.  They migrate away from cooler water as soon as it goes below 68 degrees.  I'm hoping to get out there to see them again before they leave us.  Maybe I'll even get to pet one.