Charlie Glotzbach Won August Michigan Race With Dodge BROOKLYN, Mich., August 15, 2001 - Thirty-one years ago this weekend, Charlie Glotzbach motored around Michigan International Speedway on a wing and a prayer. The prayer was on his lips, but...
Charlie Glotzbach Won August Michigan Race With Dodge
BROOKLYN, Mich., August 15, 2001 - Thirty-one years ago this weekend, Charlie Glotzbach motored around Michigan International Speedway on a wing and a prayer. The prayer was on his lips, but the wing was firmly attached to the back of his No. 99 Dodge Charger Daytona. In the end, Glotzbach led a Chrysler Corporation sweep of the first six positions. Dodge got the win and four of the top six. Plymouth SuperBirds finished third and fifth.
The victory was the second win of the season for the Indiana native and frequent Dodge test driver. Glotzbach was also the pole winner for the August Michigan race in 1970, which was then known as the "Yankee 400." He led the race seven times for a total of 116 laps, taking the lead for the final time with nine laps to go when the only caution flag of the race came out after front-runner Cale Yarborough's engine let go. Glotzbach stayed out while everyone else pitted for fresh tires, including Bobby Allison who was running second in a Mario Rossi Dodge Charger Daytona. Allison never got to use his fresh tires as the race ended under caution.
"I was gonna win it anyway, you know, whether we had a caution or not," said Glotzbach recently. He said the same thing in the Winner's Circle when he won. "I was running faster than Cale was most of the day," he said then. "I think I could have caught him if he hadn't blown. I would have rather won it under green, but it all pays the same."
Glotzbach wants to see Dodge win more NASCAR Winston Cup Series races but he was disappointed by one aspect of the brand's return. "Well, I was hoping they'd call me and let me drive one," said the 62-year-old veteran. "I haven't ever retired," he insisted. "I just haven't raced for a while."
Glotzbach was very familiar with the winged Dodge Charger Daytona he drove at Michigan because he did a lot of testing for factory engineers. "Anytime there was a winged Dodge test, I tested," said Glotzbach. "They always took Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, Bobby Isaac or one of the other guys with 'em, but I started out testing the winged Dodge with (retired Dodge engineer Larry) Rathgeb. He had me at every test. I was always pretty mechanical and he told me I could tell him what he wanted to know.
"I liked doing that (testing)," continued Glotzbach. "I ran a lot of tire tests and Chrysler tests. We tried to test at every race track where we were gonna run the car, especially the bigger superspeedways. (Rathgeb) made a book up to give all the Chrysler teams to tell 'em what suspension parts to run at that particular race track."
One of their favorites was Michigan International Speedway. "It's one of the nicest race tracks around," said Glotzbach. "It always has been. It's wide; you got plenty of room and you can run four or five wide. You can run two or three wide through the corners and it was always real smooth back then. The last time I ran it, it wasn't (as smooth). The winters had got to it a little bit, but it was still good."
Retired Dodge engineer George Wallace recalls the Michigan race in 1970 as one where windows may have been a factor. "At that time, running windows in the car was optional," said Wallace. "We always ran side windows at Daytona for aerodynamics and Charlie asked us if they would do any good at Michigan. After qualifying Charlie had his crew put in the windows. We used regular production windows with winders and all that, and it added about 70 or 80 pounds to the car, up high at that, but Charlie said let's try it. I think his was the only good car in the race running windows. That may have been the thing that put him over the top."
Glotzbach got his first NASCAR Grand National win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1968. He was driving a Cotton Owens-prepared Dodge. Glotzbach won the pole and the race, and probably set a record for the amount of time between the two - 11 days. "We got rained out at least two times," recalled Glotzbach." The Speedway had been the target of heavy rains as Hurricane Gladys swept up the East Coast.
Glotzbach also holds a record for the fastest race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Contests at the half-mile bull ring are usually sprinkled liberally with wrecks, blown motors and yellow flags, but Glotzbach won a rare caution-free race in 1971. Glotzbach took the lead from Richard Petty on lap 44 and led through lap 255 when he turned the car over to Friday Hassler. Relief drivers were common at Bristol in those days when the summer race was held during heat of the day.
Glotzbach got his first taste of racing in a soap box derby car in his hometown of Edwardsville, Ind. He moved up to cars with motors and earned his "Chargin' Charlie" nickname at the Jeffersonville Sportsdrome near Louisville, Ky. After years of scraping by on what he could beg and borrow, Glotzbach caught a break when he called the head of the Dodge racing program, Ronnie Householder, who had doubts about whether Glotzbach could beat the competition but was impressed by his confidence and sent him some gears he needed.
Glotzbach caught another break from Harry Hyde, a Louisville native and legendary crew chief for the K&K Insurance Dodge. Bobby Isaac was driving the primary car. "Harry said, 'I'll get you in the other car. You just go down and help us.'" Glotzbach did go to Daytona and ran several races with the team, finishing in the top-five three or four times. "I had never run Darlington and I finished 4th there," said Glotzbach. "I about wore the side out on it. That's when you rubbed it (the wall) all the way around."
Other teams noticed Glotzbach's performance, one thing led to another and soon he was driving and testing for Dodge. Glotzbach continued in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series through 1992. His Winston Cup career included 124 races, four wins and 12 poles. He had 38 top-fives and 50 top-10 finishes.
Although he still competes in an annual charity race in Nashville, Glotzbach now spends most of time at his business - Charlie's Truck Sales, in southern Indiana. "I got a little dealership," he said. "Just small time. I buy and sell trucks - pickups, big trucks, whatever. Right across (the river) from Louisville."
"He had the type of personality that everybody got along with," said former driver and TNN broadcaster Buddy Baker. "But if you were racing him, you had your hands full. He crashed the car at Darlington one time and I thought, 'Well, that's the end of him.' But that wreck fixed whatever was wrong with it because he wasn't a factor before and he came back and finished in the top-five. He was the kind of guy that if you gave him the equipment, he'd take it to the front. I watched him in a local race at his home track, I guess a year ago, and he was driving just like he used to."
This week in Dodge history:
* 8/21/64 - David Pearson won his first of three annual 200-lap races at Columbia Speedway, Columbia, S.C. Pearson and his Cotton Owens Dodge had to overcome a punctured tire to win but he was helped when most of the top threats suffered mechanical problems that were more serious.
* 8/19/65 - Pearson dropped back at the start but won again at Columbia Speedway after a wedge adjustment by his Cotton Owens crew fixed the car's handling.
* 8/18/66 - Pearson made it three years in a row by passing Bobby Allison during the 168th lap of the half-mile dirt track in Columbia.
* 8/21/69 - Bobby Isaac led all but four laps in winning a 100-mile race on the .375-mile paved track in South Boston, Va.
* 8/16/70 - Charlie Glotzbach and his Dodge Charger Daytona led a Chrysler Corporation sweep of the first six spots in the Yankee 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
-Dodge Motorsports/Bill Hamilton