Don Garlits was a Top Fuel drag car innovator.
Don Garlits was a Top Fuel drag car innovator.

The pioneer of drag racing, Don Garlits, still feels the need for speed



Anyone associated with drag racing owes just a little bit to Don Garlits, one of the most legendary racers and innovators in its history. Neil Vorano interrupted the 78-year-old's lunch to talk about the Yas Marina circuit and going really fast A lot can be read into Don Garlit's email reply to a request for an interview. "Call me after the Gatornationals are over on my cell, because it's the only phone I can hear from." The first part shows how much drag racing is still an overwhelming part of the septegenarian's life; the second gives a hint as to how much he has given for the sport. "I have a really hard time hearing," Garlits says over his mobile, which is a special unit for the hearing impaired, as he waits for his lunch at a Florida restaurant. The hearing ailment isn't surprising, considering he has spent almost half a century in a career that put him just inches from explosive, ear-splitting engines in Top Fuel drag racing.

Garlits, then an owner of a garage and body shop, started in the sport in 1955, building his own chassis and engine and winning his first race. He was hooked, and went professional three years later. In a career that saw him finally step out of the cockpit of the big cars for good in 2003, he earned 17 National championships and 144 major open event victories. He has accomplished more than most in the sport, but, pushing 80 years old, he still can't leave it.

"Besides running my museum [Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida], which is a full-time job, I have one of those Dodge Challenger Drag Pack cars that I ran in Stock class [at the Gatornationals competition last weekend]; did a 130mph, 10 [seconds] flat. It's a fun little car, keeps me out there. "I can't get away from it. But my wife asked me in 2003 - I went 323mph in one of those Top Fuel cars - and she asked me real nice not to do it anymore; it scared her. And she'd been so supportive of me all these years, and she had tears in her eyes, so what are you going to do, you know?

"But when they came out with this drag car, she said 'Honey, why don't you get one of those?' So, I did, and I'm having a good time." It's not that the man known as "Big Daddy" has anything left to prove. Besides the wins and titles, he is revered as an innovator and a milestone achiever. He was the first man to exceed 170mph in the quarter mile in 1957, then over the years became the first to pass 180mph, then 200, then 250, then 270.

He was the first drag racer to put a rear wing on his car. He was also a proponent of fire-retardent racing suits after major burns from a fire in 1960 almost took his life. And, when his transmission exploded and took part of his foot with it in 1970, Garlits moved the engine in his cars behind the driver, where it remains to this day on all Top Fuel cars for safety reasons. "I have some regrets in my career, with some races where I did stupid things to lose the race, just stupid things. But I don't regret my accidents, even the bad ones, because they helped to make the sport safer."

His contributions to drag racing have been so extensive that one of his cars, Swamp Rat XXX, rests in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Garlits welcomes the Yas Marina circuit's attempts at cultivating the sport in the Middle East. "I love that. 'Cause, I helped support moving it to England; I was part of the team that went to England in 64; I've been to Finland, I've been to Sweden and Australia. And, my museum has the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame - it's not just national - and we just inducted Jim Read from Australia, and Sydney Allard from England is in there. "So I look at the sport as international."

motoring@thenational.ae

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

The Last White Man

Author: Mohsin Hamid 

192 pages 

Published by: Hamish Hamilton (UK), Riverhead Books (US)

Release date: out now in the US, August 11 (UK)

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

Five healthy carbs and how to eat them

Brown rice: consume an amount that fits in the palm of your hand

Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli: consume raw or at low temperatures, and don’t reheat  

Oatmeal: look out for pure whole oat grains or kernels, which are locally grown and packaged; avoid those that have travelled from afar

Fruit: a medium bowl a day and no more, and never fruit juices

Lentils and lentil pasta: soak these well and cook them at a low temperature; refrain from eating highly processed pasta variants

Courtesy Roma Megchiani, functional nutritionist at Dubai’s 77 Veggie Boutique

Revival
Eminem
Interscope

Company profile

Name: Envi Lodges
Started: September 2021
Co-founders: Noelle Homsy and Chris Nader
Based: UAE
Sector: Hospitality
Number of employees: 12 to 15
Stage of investment: Series A

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

57 Seconds

Director: Rusty Cundieff
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Morgan Freeman, Greg Germann, Lovie Simone
Rating: 2/5

Combating coronavirus
Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Company profile

Company name: amana
Started: 2010
Founders: Karim Farra and Ziad Aboujeb
Based: UAE
Regulator: DFSA
Sector: Financial services
Current number of staff: 85
Investment stage: Self-funded

Results:

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-2 (PA) | Group 1 US$75,000 (Dirt) | 2,200 metres

Winner: Goshawke, Fernando Jara (jockey), Ali Rashid Al Raihe (trainer)

7.05pm: UAE 1000 Guineas (TB) | Listed $250,000 (D) | 1,600m

Winner: Silva, Oisin Murphy, Pia Brendt

7.40pm: Meydan Classic Trial (TB) | Conditions $100,000 (Turf) | 1,400m

Winner: Golden Jaguar, Connor Beasley, Ahmad bin Harmash

8.15pm: Al Shindagha Sprint (TB) | Group 3 $200,000 (D) | 1,200m

Winner: Drafted, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson

8.50pm: Handicap (TB) | $175,000 (D) | 1,600m

Winner: Capezzano, Mickael Barzalona, Sandeep Jadhav

9.25pm: Handicap (TB) | $175,000 (T) | 2,000m

Winner: Oasis Charm, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

10pm: Handicap (TB) | $135,000 (T) | 1,600m

Winner: Escalator, Christopher Hayes, Charlie Fellowes

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Black Panther
Dir: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
Five stars

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The biog

Favourite book: You Are the Placebo – Making your mind matter, by Dr Joe Dispenza

Hobby: Running and watching Welsh rugby

Travel destination: Cyprus in the summer

Life goals: To be an aspirational and passionate University educator, enjoy life, be healthy and be the best dad possible.

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

T20 World Cup Qualifier fixtures

Tuesday, October 29

Qualifier one, 2.10pm – Netherlands v UAE

Qualifier two, 7.30pm – Namibia v Oman

Wednesday, October 30

Qualifier three, 2.10pm – Scotland v loser of qualifier one

Qualifier four, 7.30pm – Hong Kong v loser of qualifier two

Thursday, October 31

Fifth-place playoff, 2.10pm – winner of qualifier three v winner of qualifier four

Friday, November 1

Semi-final one, 2.10pm – Ireland v winner of qualifier one

Semi-final two, 7.30pm – PNG v winner of qualifier two

Saturday, November 2

Third-place playoff, 2.10pm

Final, 7.30pm

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5


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