Pat Garlits, who for more than 60 years was the great woman behind a great man as the wife of drag racing icon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, died Sunday, Feb, 2, in Florida. She had been suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease for several years.
For decades on the road to drag racing stardom, Pat rode shotgun and helped keep her husband safe and comfortable, and was there to support him as he lived his dream of becoming a great drag racing champion and later the proprietor of his own drag racing museum in Ocala, Fla.’
Drag racing’s first couple met at Florida’s Lake Magdalene in 1952, Patricia Louise Bieger, a “pretty, petite brunette senior,” and Don a 20-year-old hot rodder in his Cadillac-powered ’40 Ford ragtop, and, as he wrote in his book, “It was love at first sight.” They were married Feb. 20, 1953, and celebrated their 60th anniversary last year.
“She has been suffering a lot these last few days and it was a blessing to see God take her into His care,” wrote Garlits in an email to friends that he also later posted on his Facebook page. “I will miss her very badly, but will be with her sooner than I realize, as time is very different here that over there. She passed at home with her two daughters at her side and me holding her hand and a little Yorkie dog on each side of her. She went without making a sound and this house is going to be very quiet for a while. I had Glenn Miller playing in the background, as that was her favorite Big Band.”
Mrs. Garlits is also survived by her two daughters, Gay Lyn and Donna. A complete list of survivors, as well as information on services, is not available.
For more on the Pat Garlits, read Phil Burgess’ Aug. 2012 Dragster Insider column here.