The Continuing Saga of Bob Glidden
Hoosier Legend Preparing for Team Schumacherís Pro Stock Assault in 2005
By Susan Wade
Photos by Roger Richards
many NHRA drag-racing teams have settled into multimillion-dollar
facilities in Brownsburg, Ind., that the suburb on Indianapolis' west side
is referring to the area as "Nitro Alley." It is a complement to
open-wheel racing's "Gasoline Alley," an enclave of fabricators
and engine builders clustered just south of the nearby Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. Don Schumacher Racing is building a gargantuan facility across
the street from the Pedregons and down the block from the Vance &
Hines, Don Prudhomme, and John Force operations.
Bob Glidden, a Hoosier icon from Whiteland, Ind., has found his niche with
Schumacher Racing -- on the far eastside of the city, beyond what used to
be the U.S. Army's Fort Benjamin Harrison with its finance center, where
every Army employee's paycheck originated.
When it comes to Don Schumacher Racing's Pro Stock effort for 2005, the buck stops with Glidden. But find out why he prefers to be across town from the racing community -- and why he delivered an ultimatum. Read what he has to say about his two drivers for next season, how it's possible to construct an engine almost with nearly no tools, steak versus hot dogs, and his "crazy year."
are simple for Bob Glidden. Work hard. Do your best. Treat others fairly.
Speak directly. Honor your word.
in the daily jumble of NHRA drag racing, his principles have gotten a bit
bruised. That could be rough on a 60-year-old man, but Bob Glidden has
sloughed off worse. And that's why he has been able to lay the foundation
for Don Schumacher's 2005 two-car Pro Stock team, gathering the pieces and
keeping the peace.
had his nose to the grindstone as team manager this summer when his driver
and longtime friend Larry Morgan suddenly split with owner Don Schumacher
and turned Glidden's world upside down. Glidden had bought a home near
Morgan's in Newark, Ohio, leaving his Hoosier roots and the homestead from
which he had built 10 series titles and 85 event victories. Through all
the disappointment and ugly developments that he says "broke my
heart," Glidden is back under the Schumacher banner, working to bring
yet another championship to the NHRA's largest team.
time, though, it is on his terms.
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in his driving days, when wife Etta helped him tune the car and she wasn't
allowed inside the pit gates because of her gender, Glidden played by the
hardly-fair rules and prepared his car outside. Of course, he brought it
inside and blew everybody else away on the track. It made no difference
whether he had a choice spot in the pits or a patch of ground under a
tree. He made his operation work better than anyone else's.
it wasn't unusual for him to prefer working away from the bustle of Don
Schumacher Racing's facility on Indianapolis' west side. Thirty miles away
on the opposite side of town suits him just fine.
very good," he said of the arrangement whereby he works in Steve
Schmidt's engine shop. "I tried to explain to Don that the Pro Stock
shop doesn't need to be with the fuel teams. It would be such a
distraction to be over there. They have about 30 other people running
around. We donít need to be over there. Everyone here needs to keep his
mind on what we're trying to do."
will Schumacher expect him to move the Pro Stock operation into the
company's new Brownsburg facility once it's completed?
would say not," Glidden presumed. "It needs to be separate. Now,
he can take it there, but it would be without me."
line has been drawn in the oil. It is a clear line, but he didn't draw it
in defiance. He simply offered the terms of his employment.
said that before he joined forces with Morgan, "I had never met Don
Schumacher in my life. But he seemed like a man of his word. I got the
feeling he was sincere. He has gone out of his way to make it work like I
would like to see it work."
far so good, but he said he had to prod Schumacher and Schmidt to close
is purchasing a building and equipment from Steve Schmidt. We're going to
keep four of the people who worked in the engine shop with Steve -- and
Steve," Glidden said. He added that the fall Chicago race was
the last one at which Schmidt would campaign his 2002 Chevy Cavalier Pro
Stock car, a venture in which Glidden was not involved.
will not find a human being who will work harder than Steve Schmidt,"
Glidden said. "Not even me. That's a fact. He'll be a big asset to
us. Two guys in his shop have been working with me for the last month.
They all started yesterday."
that sounds like progress, it came with a few kinks. Schmidt and
Schumacher were dragging their feet about finishing the financial
transaction. So has Schumacher officially purchased Schmidt's facility and
gave him enough money last week to pretty much say it is," Glidden
said. "I gave him an ultimatum. I said by the end of the week it was
going to be done or I was finished. If you don't get this stuff done, time
just slips by. And I told him I need the people."
said this task for Schumacher has been the most difficult challenge he has
is a tough deal," he said. "I've never taken on a mountain this
high. My goodness. It's a pretty big mountain to climb. . . when you have
nothing and you need it all at once.
didn't even have a bolt. It has taken me six or seven weeks, and today,
just as we speak, the first engine is going onto the dyno. That's only one
engine," he said. "It isn't much, compared to what we have to do
in such a short time. We want to be able to test two cars by the first of
said the team plans to test at Bradenton, Fla., but he said Pontiac's
annual Pro Stock Super Bowl in Houston seems a lifetime away.
for whom is all this midnight oil burning? Jeg Coughlin, perhaps?
to say," Glidden offered.
said by next month Schumacher should have announced his drivers for the
twin Mopar-sponsored Dodge Stratus cars. He indicated that although
"we want one specific driver," neither that ace nor his future
teammate have been selected.
part of it is his problem," Glidden said of Schumacher. "I've
got a lot to accomplish at the shop."
been the janitor. I've been the secretary. I've been the parts person. I
have been the busiest of busy. Just trying to get parts in here has been
tough. It's so difficult, right down to getting the smallest bolt. I
told Don I need some damn tools. We turned in a Matco Tools order, but it
hasn't come in yet. All I have is a pair of Channellocks."
he has had more than just a pair of pliers as he has built this first
engine from scratch. "Not very much," said the man of few words
and many achievements.
come in early to miss the traffic, and when I go home it's not too bad. I
eat, take a shower and go to bed -- then get in the morning and do it all
over again. I am worn out. With the financial end of this mess between Don
and Steve and trying to get parts and pieces, this is a tough deal."
has kept him in shape. "I walk probably 15 miles a day," he
said. The shop has 20,000 square feet on the ground level and another
6,000-7,000 square feet above that.
have not taken a day off," he said, by way of conversation. He had no
aggravation in his voice, for he wasn't complaining. "I'm the person
who's making me do this."
recognized that even with all the resources Schumacher Racing has been
willing to provide in pursuit of a Pro Stock championship, his own
reputation will not be enough to knock off the incredibly strong
competition. He pointed to Greg Anderson, who Sept. 26 at Dallas clinched
his second consecutive series championship.
of his cars are going to be hard to beat," Glidden said. "There
are eight or 10 incredible teams." He complimented Anderson's
commitment to a seven-days-a-week schedule. "You can see by the
outcome that Greg and his team are working hard. That'll be a tough thing
to beat him."
earned five championships in a row from 1985 through 1989 and only since
his retirement has he slipped to third on NHRA's all-time victory list
behind Funny Car's John Force and Pro Stock's Warren Johnson. And he said
he feels up to the task. He said he's ready to match Anderson.
think I am," he said, "but it is going to be tough."
for the disintegration of Morgan's association with Schumacher,
Glidden suggested, "That would be a good subject to stay away
from." However, he did shed a little light on the situation, from his
left Larry Morgan the Saturday night of the Columbus race," he said.
"The following week, Larry Morgan sold his equipment. Dodge/Mopar
called me Monday, pleading their case. I had heard Larry say he was 'going
to sell his f-ing stuff to Don Schumacher,' so I assumed he had. I went
back to work. Then Larry said he didn't want to sell."
declined to go into more detail but likened the situation to "a man
who ordered a steak, then said he wanted a hot dog."
Glidden will not insult Morgan. "I think the world of Larry
Morgan. I really do," he said. "He was the first person I saw
when I woke up from heart surgery." But privately he expressed
sadness about the way the situation unfolded this summer.
bottom line, Glidden said, was this: "I was not employed by Larry
Morgan. I was employed by Don Schumacher, and so was everybody else in the
shop." And that's the situation now at Schmidt's shop.
has been a crazy year," Glidden said.
anybody point out on a calendar to Glidden that he still has November and
December to go.
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