For about a month people had been asking me about the health of Bob Glidden,73, a friend of mine since the mid 1960s and a drag racing legend. He won 85 pro stock events and 10 season championships en route to being named to the NHRA Hall of Fame in 2005.
Stuart, my therapy dog, and I had visited him a few months ago at his house in Whiteland, but I wasn’t aware of him having health problems.
Our initial connection was because of our interest in fast cars in the ’60s. Back in those days a lot of the guys who were interested in drag racings had a specialty that they shared with friends. Mine had to do with the electrical systems of engines. One of our buddies was a great welder and maintained the exhaust system. Bob Glidden was different as he had mastered several.
Sometimes I worked on an electrical engine part for him, and several times he provided assistance to me. Once he rebuilt an automatic transmission for a car I was building to race.
A few years later I had taken a job in Southern California. Bob and his wife, Etta, showed up for the NHRA Winter Nationals driving a semi with four race cars strapped down on the trailer. I spent a couple of days with them but I’m sure I was of no help.
Several years later we connected again. I had moved back to Indianapolis and was an outside sales person for a company that sold fleet and industrial maintenance supplies. Bob had a shop on Emerson Avenue in Beech Grove. He became a good customer as well as a great friend.
About eight years later I was promoted to district manager and sent to Michigan. There are a couple of NHRA drag strips in Western Michigan. I got to see the Gliddens several times when they traveled to Michigan for a race.
When I moved back to Indy we reconnected at his Whiteland facility.
Near the end of our visit two months ago, Bob noticed Stuart, my therapy dog, sitting in my car. I let Stuart out and Bob played with him.
A couple of weeks ago I found out that Bob was hospitalized with major heart problems. I didn’t know what hospital so I drove to his house to see if anyone was around to provide information. Bob’s wife answered the door and told me that he had just arrived home from the hospital and there were some hospice people with him.
She invited me in and said I could visit with Bob when hospice folks leave. When they left I talked to Bob, who seemed to be in good spirits while holding his great-grandchild on his lap. We had a couple of good laughs.
Near the end of our conversation, Bob asked me how Stuart was doing. I told him that Stuart was in the car and probably napping. “Bring him in here,” he said. They reconnected at once.
I am so happy that we got to have that last visit with Bob Glidden, who died Dec. 17.