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NHRA legend Bob Glidden dies at 73

by Patrick Rall on

NHRA legend and ten-time Pro Stock champion Bob “Mad Dog” Glidden passed away yesterday (December 17, 2017) at the age of 73. Glidden spent much of his racing career in Ford cars, but he spent some time in a Plymouth Arrow and after retiring as a driver, he served as the crew chief for a few different teams, including the Mopar Pro Stock camp in the mid-2000s. He is survived by his wife Etta and his sons, Rusty and Billy.

“Everyone in the NHRA community is saddened to learn the news of Bob’s passing,” said NHRA President Peter Clifford. “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.”

An Incredible Career

Bob Glidden’s time in the NHRA began at the Stock and Super Stock ranks, running various Fairlanes and Mustangs before moving up to the Pro Stock class in 1972. After selling his two Super Stock Mustangs that year to purchase a Ford Pinto Pro Stock car from Jack Roush, Glidden quit his job as a mechanic for Ed Martin Ford to pursue his pro racing career – and that turned out to be a smart move.

Bob Glidden made his Pro Stock debut at the 1972 Summernationals, finishing second to Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins in his first ever event at that level. He would get his first professional win the following year when he took home the Pro Stock trophy at the US Nationals, running a 9.03 at 152.54 miles per hour to set the national record for that class.

In 1974, Glidden won three major NHRA events, including the Springnationals and the US Nationals, while also resetting the national record for Pro Stock ET and MPH en route to claiming his first championship. Back then, those national records were 8.81 and 154.9 miles per hour. Things got even better in 1975, with Mad Dog driving his Ford to seven major event wins, five #1 qualifier spots and his second Pro Stock championship title.

Glidden struggled in 1976, finishing sixth in points, but he bounced back to the second in 1977 and in 1978, he reclaimed the Pro Stock title while also setting the national record once again – this time running an 8.59. During that 1978 season, Glidden qualified in the top spot in the class in all 14 events, winning nine in a row during that run. Overall, that 14-event span where he was the top qualifier was part of a 23-event run where he was the fastest Pro Stock competitor in the field.

Bob Glidden retired his undefeated Ford Fairmont during the 1979 season, shifting over to a Plymouth Arrow, but his success didn’t stop. He won seven national events and he didn’t lose a single round in divisional events, winning the Pro Stock championship once again in ’79 followed by another title in 1980.

From 1981 through 1984, Glidden failed to win any Pro Stock titles, but after a jump back to Ford, he reclaimed his title once again in 1985. He also won the Pro Stock championship in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989, leading to a total of 10 championships in 18 seasons. Throughout those 18 seasons, Glidden won 85 events and in 2000, he was voted #4 on the list of the NHRA’s Top 50 drivers from the first 50 years of the sport.

He would continue racing through the 90s, winning several events along the way, but he never got back to the championship spot before retiring from driving in 1997. After that, he spent some time building NASCAR engines for Ford before serving as a crew chief for a variety of teams – including some of the Hemi-powered Mopar teams in the mid-2000s. In 2010, at the age of 66 years old, Glidden came out of retirement to run a few events during that season, but he didn’t win any of those races. He did, however, secure his legacy as one of the greatest professional drag racers of all time.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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