NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Swamp Rat Alley returns for 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals

One of the marquee attractions from last year’s Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals is back in 2024, as the special "Swamp Rat Alley" returns to this year's event, March 7-10, featuring historic cars from legendary driver “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and others.
09 Feb 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
 Swamp Rat Alley

One of the marquee attractions from last year’s Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals is back in 2024, as the special "Swamp Rat Alley" returns to this year's event, March 7-10, featuring historic cars from legendary driver “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and others.

NHRA and Garlits, one of the most iconic drivers in drag racing history, again teamed up to feature Swamp Rat Alley inside the Hot Rod Junction. This year’s display will feature a pair of famous Garlits cars, as well as vehicles from “Jungle Jim” Liberman, Dick LaHaie, and Ray Godman. The cars will be displayed all weekend at Gainesville Raceway, giving fans the unique chance to check out historic cars driven by legendary names in the sport. Garlits will also be on hand throughout the weekend at Gainesville Raceway to meet with and sign autographs for fans.

Included in the Swamp Rat Alley in 2024 will be:

  • Garlits’ Swamp Rat VIII: This was the first of Garlits’ Swamp Rats to run the legendary 426 Hemi. Driven by both Garlits and right-hand man Connie Swingle in 1965, the car was later lengthened and became Swamp Rat X before being recreated in its original form.
  • Garlits Swamp Rat I-C: One of Garlits’ earliest cars and was uncharacteristically painted purple for a short time. In a time before Garlits burned nitromethane, this car ran on gasoline with six carburetors and competed at the 1956 Florida State Championship where it set low E.T. and top speed but broke in the final round. The car was quickly painted black and went on to great success.
  • Ray Godman’s front-engine Tennessee Bo-Weevil Top Fueler: Raymond Godman’s Tennessee Bo-Weevil cars were mainstays of NHRA competition throughout the 1960s and one of his earlier Bo-Weevil car won Middle Eliminator at the 1962 Nationals in Indianapolis. This car is the final front-engine Top Fueler campaigned by Godman and driver Preston Davis in 1971.
  • Dick LaHaie’s 1981 Top Fueler: The car, driven by Michigan-based great Dick LaHaie, who would win the Top Fuel world championship in 1987, was one of many cars that kept LaHaie’s name perennially in the NHRA Top 10 throughout the 1980s in cars that were wrenched his son, Jeff, and daughter, Kim.
  • “Jungle Jim” '72 Camaro Funny Car: This ’72 Camaro from the legendary “Jungle Jim” was only driven a handful of times before Liberman sold it, but it was one in a long line of Chevrolet Funny Cars driven by one of the most popular competitors in NHRA history.

The Swamp Rat Alley section is a thrilling way to help kick off the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season, and before the weekend starts, Garlits and the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame will induct its 2024 class on Thursday, March 7.

The 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals promises to be one of the biggest races in the event’s incredible history. This year’s version promises 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph racing action, new faces in the Pro ranks – like legendary racer and now Top Fuel rookie Tony Stewart – the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, pre-race festivities, and a host of events and action off the track. 

Last year, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won in Gainesville, and this year’s race will air on FS1, including the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, live coverage on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and continuing finals coverage at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Reigning Top Fuel world champ Doug Kalitta looks to keep rolling after winning his first world title to close out 2023, taking on Brittany Force, Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, Justin Ashley, Tony Schumacher, and class newcomer Stewart. In Funny Car, Hagan is after his third straight Gators win against a star-studded field of Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III, J.R. Todd, John Force, Daniel Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon, and Austin Prock.

Six-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders will try to win in Gainesville for the first time, facing off against Greg Anderson, Aaron Stanfield, Matt Hartford, and Dallas Glenn. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Herrera is after a repeat win by knocking off the likes of Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, Hector Arana Jr., and Angie Smith.

The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout is back to open 2024 as well, pitting eight standouts against each other in a unique, big-money specialty race on Saturday, March 9. Local standout Josh Hart won the Callout last year. Action will also take place in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, and Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown to open 2024.

Race fans at Gainesville Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremony for drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and the fan-favorite SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville, as well as a ring ceremony for the 2023 world champs (Kalitta, Hagan, Enders, and Herrera) and a flyover from the U.S. Air Force. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.
The Nitro Alley Stage is a huge attraction and the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, the NHRA Insider Podcast, Shirley Muldowney Q&A, meet and greets, and more. Marching bands will also entertain the crowd each day, including the University of Florida on Sunday. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their cars, get autographs from their favorite drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and vendors create an exciting atmosphere of interactive displays, merchandise, food, and more. 

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying features two rounds at 2 and 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 8, and the final two qualifying rounds on Saturday, March 9 at noon and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 10.

The first round of the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and the semifinals at 2:45 p.m. The finals are slated for 4:25 p.m.

To purchase tickets to the 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general-admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. Get your tickets now for the Top Eliminator Club because these will sell out.