1980's-1990's Race Era Inductees

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Bob Glidden

Master of Speed and Precision in Drag Racing


In the world of drag racing, the name Bob Glidden stands as a legend, synonymous with precision, power, and an unparalleled mastery of engines. Born on August 18, 1944, in Whiteland, Indiana, Glidden's journey from a young enthusiast tinkering with engines to a dominant force in professional drag racing is a testament to his skill, determination, and relentless pursuit of speed. As an engine builder and drag racer, Glidden left an indelible mark on the sport, securing his place in the annals of motorsports history.

Early Years and the Racing Bug

Bob Glidden's love affair with racing began in the late 1950s when he was just a teenager. Growing up in Indiana, a state with a rich tradition in motorsports, Glidden was exposed to the thrill of racing at an early age. His fascination with speed and engines ignited a passion that would shape the course of his life.

In the early 1960s, Glidden began racing in local events, driving a 1957 Ford that he and his brother built. These grassroots experiences laid the foundation for Glidden's future success and provided him with invaluable insights into the intricacies of drag racing.

Rise to Prominence

Bob Glidden's first notable success came in the early 1970s when he campaigned a Ford Maverick in NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) competitions. His meticulous approach to engine building and tuning quickly set him apart, and Glidden's Maverick became a formidable contender in the Pro Stock class.

In 1974, Glidden secured his first NHRA Pro Stock championship, marking the beginning of a dominant era in the class. His partnership with Ford and the development of high-performance engines solidified Glidden's reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the drag racing community.

Ford Partnership and Pro Stock Dominance

Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Bob Glidden and Ford became synonymous with success in the Pro Stock category. His iconic Ford Fairmont and later the Thunderbird were powered by engines meticulously crafted by Glidden himself. The combination of Glidden's tuning expertise and Ford's commitment to performance created a winning formula.

From 1975 to 1986, Glidden secured ten NHRA Pro Stock championships, a remarkable feat that showcased his sustained excellence in the class. His methodical approach to engine building, chassis tuning, and race strategy made Glidden a formidable opponent on the quarter-mile tracks across the country.

Engine Building Expertise

At the heart of Glidden's success was his prowess as an engine builder. His understanding of the nuances of engine performance, from camshaft profiles to cylinder head design, allowed him to extract maximum power and reliability from his powerplants. The engines that bore the Glidden name became known for their consistency, a crucial factor in the highly competitive world of drag racing.

One of Glidden's notable contributions to engine building was his work on cylinder heads. He understood the significance of airflow in achieving optimal power, and his innovations in cylinder head design contributed to the performance gains of his engines. The attention to detail and precision in engine building became hallmarks of Glidden's approach.

Pro Stock Milestones

Bob Glidden's career is dotted with numerous milestones in Pro Stock racing. In 1975, he became the first Pro Stock driver to break the eight-second barrier, setting a new standard for the class. Glidden's Thunderbird, adorned with the iconic blue and white paint scheme, became a symbol of dominance on the drag strips.

In 1979, Glidden achieved a historic moment by winning the prestigious U.S. Nationals for the first time, a victory that added to his legacy as one of the all-time greats in drag racing. The U.S. Nationals win was followed by a remarkable streak of victories that solidified Glidden's reputation as the undisputed king of Pro Stock.

Family Team and Collaborations

Bob Glidden's success extended beyond the driver's seat; it was a family affair. His wife, Etta, played a crucial role in the operation of the team, handling administrative tasks and providing essential support. The Glidden Racing Team was a tight-knit unit, with each family member contributing to the overall success.

Collaborations with fellow racers and engine builders further enriched Glidden's career. His partnerships with individuals like Steve Schmidt, renowned for his engine-building expertise, demonstrated Glidden's willingness to collaborate with the best in the business to achieve success.

Challenges and Comebacks

The 1980s brought both triumphs and challenges for Bob Glidden. Despite his dominance in Pro Stock, rule changes and technical challenges presented hurdles for the team. The transition from carbureted engines to electronic fuel injection (EFI) in the mid-1980s required adaptation, and Glidden faced setbacks as the team worked to optimize the new technology.

However, Glidden's resilience and determination shone through. The transition to EFI marked a new era in Pro Stock, and Glidden continued to evolve, contributing to the ongoing development of the class. His ability to adapt to changing circumstances and remain competitive demonstrated the depth of his racing acumen.

Legacy and Impact

Bob Glidden's impact on Pro Stock and drag racing as a whole is immeasurable. His meticulous approach to engine building, innovative strategies, and relentless pursuit of perfection set a standard that inspired generations of drag racers. Glidden's legacy lives on not only in the trophies and championships but also in the technical knowledge and expertise he imparted to the racing community.

The Glidden name became synonymous with excellence in Pro Stock racing, and his contributions to the sport were officially recognized when he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994. The honor acknowledged not only his achievements on the track but also his role in shaping the landscape of drag racing.

Later Years and Continued Influence

While Bob Glidden officially retired from driving in the early 1990s, his influence continued to reverberate in the drag racing community. The knowledge he amassed over decades of racing was shared with the next generation of racers, as Glidden remained involved in the technical aspects of the sport.

In the years following his retirement, Glidden's impact was evident as racers continued to reference his setups, tuning strategies, and engine-building techniques. His legacy extended beyond the track, influencing the very fabric of Pro Stock racing and serving as a benchmark for excellence.


Bob Glidden's career as an engine builder and drag racer represents a pinnacle of success in the world of drag racing. His meticulous approach to engine building, unmatched precision in tuning, and unwavering dedication to performance created a legacy that continues to shape the landscape of the sport.

From the grassroots of local racing to the pinnacle of NHRA Pro Stock, Glidden's journey is a story of passion, perseverance, and an unrelenting pursuit of speed. His impact on engine building and drag racing is immortalized in the annals of motorsports, and the Glidden name remains a symbol of excellence on the quarter-mile tracks where precision and power converge.