On just its own merit, Billy Glidden's 2013 season is already off to a fine start.
But when you add in all he's already had to go through, it simply gets that much more special and further indicates the type of rare talent Glidden continues to be.
Through four races, Glidden has won one NMCA is currently in the semifinal of another that is scheduled to be completed in July, and has also advanced to semifinals in each of the first two X-DRL events.
That's a start that would have Glidden excited no matter the circumstances, but add in those trying times - breaking one engine and practically rebuilding his car to run an engine he had never previously used - and Glidden is about as excited as he possibly could be.
"We would like to win everything we go to, but being a realist we probably have exceeded what we may have expected to do to this point," Glidden said. "It's been a difficult deal and we're still working very hard at it.
"The goal was to come out and compete and we're meeting that objective probably better than any of us initially considered. We're very happy to have had the success we have so far and, really, we're tickled with how we've been able to perform."
Glidden's year started in Bradenton at the NMCA's first event, where he advanced to the finals. Rain postponed the completion of that race to April in Atlanta, where Glidden ended up beating Dave Hance in the finals, but adversity earlier in Bradenton.
Before the finals, his 708 cubic-inch engine broke, a tough turn of events considering the engine had performed nearly flawlessly for the previous 18 months in the ADRL's now-defunct Extreme 10.5 class.
He had only his 500-inch Hemi engine as a back-up, but rain postponed the finals in Bradenton.
Still, Glidden was without an engine that could perform at a high level in the X-DRL's Pro Nitrous class, which was Glidden's next scheduled race (April 6-7). That was the X-DRL debut in Tulsa, and through a series of events, Glidden ended up with a massive 840 cubic-inch engine from Pro Nitrous driver and close friend Jeff Naiser.
The only problem was putting that engine in Glidden's Mustang was akin to placing a square in a round hole.
"This car started out as an NHRA Pro Stock car, and that (engine) surely didn't go in easily. We worked 43 hours straight at Tulsa to make it go in the car," Glidden said. "We did all sorts of things just so the engine would physically fit in the car.
"We didn't have a clutch, so we were basically band-aiding the clutch-type stuff we had. We just had to make the best we could with just ingenuity."
That's not a problem for Glidden, who can make just about anything work, but it did produce some trials.
The time factor in putting it all together was significant and the engine plowed right through the makeshift clutch set-up, yet Glidden still found a way to win a round in Tulsa and advance to the semifinals.
Satisfied with that performance, Glidden borrowed a clutch from Naiser and won the NMCA final from Bradenton in Atlanta, advancing to the semifinal of the Atlanta race before rain interrupted that finish.
"We were just being very gun shy of hurting this big engine, but we ran good enough in the 1/8-mile to go in the bottom 6.00s and win the race," Glidden said. "We certainly haven't gotten real aggressive with the nitrous tune-up on this big engine, but we were really fortunate (in Atlanta)."
But there was more work to do following that race, as Naiser needed his clutch back and certain parts on the 840 cubic-inch engine needed repaired. Naiser did that while Glidden redesigned his makeshift clutch design, meeting up in Bristol for the second X-DRL event in late April.
There, Glidden impressed with a 3.92 in qualifying and even knocked off Naiser, who won the first X-DRL event, in the first round to advance to the semifinals before rain - seemingly the one constant in Glidden's 2013 season - ended that race. Still, Glidden was pleased considering how far he had come in a short time with a brand new set-up.
"We definitely got a lot closer to where we want to be in Bristol and we're very pleased with the amount of success we've had," Glidden said "It really killed me mentally to hurt that engine at the beginning of the year, but things happen.
"We're running less nitrous on the 840 (engine) than the 708, but we're running nearly as quick so that's a pretty good sign."
As far as what the rest of the 2013 season will entail, Glidden isn't quite sure beyond the NMCA/NMRA schedule, though he hopes to finish putting the 708 cubic-inch engine back together soon. He's booked to do a match race (opponent to be determined) with the NMCA on June 14-16 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, as well as the NMCA's Super Bowl race at Joliet in July, which will also feature the completion of the Atlanta event.
From there, Glidden may continue to hit X-DRL and ADRL events close to home, and fans may even see him racing at his local Ohio Valley Raceway track.
But no matter where he pops up throughout the year, odds are that Glidden and his wife, Shannon, will be doing everything possible to produce a winner.
"We're just learning this (nitrous and big-engine) deal and I don't believe it's run as well as it's capable of running. But we're just going to get better, that's for sure," Glidden said.
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