Bob Glidden, drag racing legend and 10-time NHRA Pro Stock champion, died Dec. 17. He was 73 years old, and passed away after a brief bout of illness.
Glidden earned the nickname ‘Mad Dog’ due to his intense work ethic. He began driving in Stock and Super Stock races during the late 60s, and went professional in 1972, just a year before his first NHRA national event victory at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. In ’74 – Glidden’s very first full season in Pro Stock – he won three major events and the Winston championship.
Later in the ’70s and during the latter half of the ’80s he was dominant in the class, claiming five titles straight in the ’80s and three additional titles in the ’70s. He boasted eight wins between 1990 and 1993, and despite having a heart attack in late 1994, he took an 85th and final NHRA Pro Stock victory at Englishtown in 1995.
He retired from driving in 1997, going to work on Ford’s NASCAR engine development program, but was back behind the wheel by ’98, driving a Pontiac in the U.S. Nationals. He took some time off from racing after that, save for a few appearances in his son Billy’s small-tire Mustangs, but returned yet again in 2010.
In ’94, Glidden was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and he took his place in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2001, the NHRA honored him with the No. 4 ranking on its Top 50 drivers of the sanctioning body’s first 50 years.
Throughout his career, Glidden almost single-handedly carried the banner for Ford. His wife Etta and sons Billy and Rusty provided invaluable support in his driving efforts, and his will to win and tireless commitment carried him across the finish line in first countless times. His legacy will continue to inspire racers of all stripes for years to come.
“Everyone in the NHRA community is saddened to learn the news of Bob’s passing,” said Peter Clifford, NHRA President. “He was a true competitor who left a lasting legacy of excellence both on and off the track. Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences are with the Glidden family at this difficult time.”