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We’re digging this sixties vintage metal tag hyping Don Garlits High Performance Engines. It’s riveted to a tool box that’s been in Don’s possession for many decades. Don, you’d sell a bunch of these if you reproduce them.
When we visited Don, he was prepping his 2009 Drag Pak Challenger for the 2011 GatorNationals. This car is not the car Don drove at the historic 2008 Drag Pak unveiling held on July 13, 2008 at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Raceway in Colorado. Mopar fans will never forget the special announcement and the official corporate reveal of the two 2008 Drag Pak prototypes at that event. Based on a pair of Challenger bodies-in-white, the 2008 prototypes were assembled at the Chrysler Technical Center labs in Auburn Hills, MI and bore serial numbers 2008001 and 2008002. Garlits and Mopar Super Stock legend Judy Lilly were on hand that July day to run the two cars down the Bandimere strip before an amazed audience, it was truly a historic event of mammoth proportions. Though the 2008 mule cars were returned to Chrysler, Don was first in line for a 2009 Drag Pak. This is that car and it bears serial number 2009001. It’s still unique from the following Drag Paks since it was built over several months to troubleshoot and finalize the hand-built construction process for the benefit of the assembly team at Roush Industries. Subsequent Drag Paks (serial number 2009002 and up) were assembled in Livonia, MI at Roush much more quickly with tips and tricks learned from the slow motion build of Garlits’ car. To learn more about the fascinating Drag Pak Challenger program, grab a copy of Jim Schild’s 2009 Dodge Challenger LC22R Drag Pak Authenticity Guide available from The Auto Review.
Recognizing the historical significance of his first-built LC22R Drag Pak Challenger, Don immediately yanked the zero-mile original 372-cube (6.1 liter) Hemi for safe keeping. A thoroughly blueprinted and massaged replacement engine was installed in the car for race duty. Drag Pak engine options for 2009 were listed as an LA 360 small block, a 5.7 liter Gen III Hemi, and the 6.1 liter version shown here. All were fitted with EFI and a four-barrel throttle body. In retrospect, it is known that the vast majority of 2009 Drag Paks were built with the 6.1 liter Hemi. All Drag Pak engine blocks (360, 5.7 and 6.1) have a machined surface above the oil pan rail that bears the engine serial number. These numbers all begin with LC and are followed by numbers 001, 002, 003, etc. The block serial number and the vehicle body serial number do not necessarily match on Drag Pak Challengers. All Drag Pak engine blocks are painted Street Hemi Orange – even the 5.7 Hemi version, which uses a black painted block in standard passenger car and truck trim. Stanton Racing Engines of Nicholasville, KY built all Drag Pak engines for 2009 and 2010. We were present during the close examination of a 2010 Drag Pak Challenger at Papa’s Dodge in CT (serial number 2010003) and were surprised to find balled up bits of newspaper serving as plugs for the open exhaust ports. The newspaper pages were from the November 26, 2009 edition of the Lexington Herald, a prominent Kentucky newspaper.