Written by Ian Tocher.

Probably for the longest time since becoming a professional racer, ADRL Extreme 10.5 star Billy Glidden has stayed away from working on his car.
His last race outing was the ADRL season finale at the Texas Motorplex, near Dallas, a couple of weeks before his legendary drag racing father, 10-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden, suffered a serious fall Nov. 11, requiring hospitalization immediately after making a qualifying pass at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, California.

The fall and subsequent seizures may be traceable to complications from racing injuries suffered nearly 40 years ago, but the 66-year old also has been treated recently at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, for heart problems suspected as remnants of a 1994 six-way bypass operation. Glidden entered Johns Hopkins Jan. 5, where two days later he underwent a unique stem-cell insertion procedure to his heart before being released Jan. 13, to return home to Indiana.        

“For Shannon and I, actually since the day after Thanksgiving, all of our time has been spent with Mom and Dad; all of our time,” Glidden said while driving westward with his father watching basketball games on TV in the lounge area of his race-going rig. “For the first three weeks after that deal (in Pomona) they wanted him to have 24-hour visual contact, so Mom, Shannon and I have been trading off on that. And they have all those birds and cats, so Mom had to stay home while Shannon and I, we unhooked our coach from the trailer and we drove Dad on over to Baltimore and we’ve been over there for just over a week.”

Glidden explained it took nearly two years for his father even to be approved as a patient for the heart procedure, one that the world-renowned hospital has performed only once before for a 69-year-old man who reportedly felt significant improvements after only four months.

“So far he’s done real well,” the 2008 ADRL world champ said of his dad’s recovery. “He’s got to go back in a few weeks, basically just to check in and make sure his heart hasn’t changed for the worse or weakened. And then he’ll have to go back every month for six months and they pretty well expect by six months to see the changes that are supposed to be happening.”

After a three-day battery of tests and evaluations by both cardiac and neurological specialists, the senior Glidden also was cleared to resume air travel on his own, which will make those trips more manageable for everyone involved.

“With all the things that have gone on, he’s just really skinny right now,” the son said. “But he’s very self-sufficient, doesn’t want anybody telling him what to do or how to do it or whatever, which is good because Shannon and I have to get back to work. And Mom or him, one or the other has to stay home and tend to ‘the farm.’ We’re still worried about him, but that’s just the way it’ll have to be.

“When we get home we’ve actually got to get to work,” he continued. “Tentatively we’ve got a (Mickey Thompson) tire test to do in a couple of weeks. I don’t know where yet; we’ll just head south until we get to somewhere warm.”

Considering all the emotional and day-to-day practical demands placed on him and wife, Shannon, by his father’s medical emergency, Glidden said he’s looking forward to getting back on track—and back on the track—in preparation for the 2011 racing season.

“It has been a tough deal, I’ll tell you. Makes you think.”


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