Family affair: Grandfather a drag racing legend, his grandson the future of the sport

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- 25-year-old Rodney Garlits was born with a need for speed. It comes with the territory, since his grandpa "Big Daddy" Don Garlits is a drag racing legend.

"I couldn't ask for a better grandfather. He's been a really good inspiration of mine. I hope to be half the man he is when I get to be older. 60 years ago he started the sport basically. He did it to get kids off the street and to do it legally. He made those engines what they are today and now we're gonna get a chance to innovate an electric drag store," Rodney Garlits said.

"Big Daddy" Garlits started the sport in the 50s and at 82 years young, he's making sure he's a part of its future.

He accidentally created electric drag racing cars when he changed a golf cart into a "dragster" for a friend.

"I'm going to campaign two of these cars next month -- my grandson and I, and show the world what electric drag racing is like, and what it can be, and how inexpensive it can be," Don Garlits said.

The numbers don't lie.

Don Garlits says it costs almost $50,000 a run with current cars. Electric versions cost seven cents a run.

"This will give us the opportunity to test new things and theories and give it a shot. You never know where it might go," Rodney Garlits said.

The cars use gas nitro methane -- which is extremely expensive. The cars also have to be repaired after races because of the damage the gas can cause.

With the up and coming electric cars, all you have to do is plug them in.

Wherever the sport goes, it has the Garlits name glued to it.

"The best part is I'm going to be the future of drag racing. I'm gonna be the first one to get into the electric car. I'll get my foot in the door. Kind of like him in the late 50s. You never know -- I might be able to make a name for myself," Rodney Garlits said.

And maybe someday, a new generation of Garlits Racing will look to carry on Rodney's legacy.