Jimmy Dean Crew Chief Comes Home

JIMMY DEAN RACING CREW CHIEF COMES HOME (June 8, 1999) -- Although he's a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief for the first time at the age of 39, Dan Glauz still finds his life consumed with the same passion -- the need for speed. Glauz is the...

JIMMY DEAN RACING CREW CHIEF COMES HOME

(June 8, 1999) -- Although he's a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief for the first time at the age of 39, Dan Glauz still finds his life consumed with the same passion -- the need for speed.

Glauz is the lead wrench man on Chuck Rider's Bahari' Racing team. He's obsessed to make the Jimmy Dean Pontiac go faster, maybe more so this week. That's because the circuit hits Michigan Speedway for Sunday's Kmart 400 and Glauz is a native of Grand Rapids.

"I would like a good showing because my daughter, Robin, and my son, Ryan, will be at the race," Glauz said. "I will see a lot of friends and family this week, but unfortunately, there really won't be any time for a reunion. I've got a job to do."

Not that Glauz needs family pressures to motivate him. He's a rookie crew chief, hired by Rider during the offseason to replace the departed Doug Hewitt. Rider hired Glauz to put Derrike Cope back in the Winner's Circle. Rider was impressed with the fact Glauz was the shock specialist for Mike Skinner when he won both Daytona poles as a rookie.

"This is something I've been dreaming about all my life, being able to have the chance to compete against the top crew chiefs in the sport of NASCAR," Glauz said. "Every weekend is a challenge and the level of competition is fierce. In Winston Cup racing it seems there is more work and less time to do it, consequently, I spend all my time thinking about how I can make the car go faster. It takes up my entire week, but it is what I want to do with my life."

It's been so since his early adolescence. Glauz grew up racing sportsman, late model and even Outlaw cars at such Michigan tracks as Berlin and Kalamazoo. Later, he even raced in the ASA, All-Pro and ARCA divisions. But Glauz eventually found he could extend his racing career if he spent more time under the hood instead of behind the wheel.

"One of the main reasons I began to work on cars is because there were much more job opportunities as a mechanic than as a driver," Glauz said. "I found out that I enjoyed working on the cars and car setups, more so than driving. Besides, I couldn't afford to keep driving because I didn't have the sponsors that other guys did. I just got on the mechanical side of racing, paid attention, and learned a lot over the years."

Unfortunately, Michigan offered only three months of racing a year in the summer. That wasn't enough to satisfy Glauz's racing appetite. There were more opportunities for aspiring mechanics where the weather was warmer and the racing could be found nearly year-round. So Glauz left Michigan in the late 1980s to further his career down south in the hotbed of stock car country.

Glauz led Tim Steele to an ARCA championship as crew chief in 1993. He then worked as a mechanic for Ward Burton's team during the driver's rookie season in the Winston Cup ranks. After stints as a crewman with Rick Mast and Skinner, Glauz spent a year jumping between teams as a crew chief in the Busch Series before Rider plucked him. Rider saw a hunger in Glauz's eyes, a determination that he could prove he could beat the best on any given Sunday.

There's one constant in all the jobs Glauz has had in racing. It takes unwavering dedication to compete with the best in the sport.

"If I could tell young mechanics how to become a crew chief, I would tell them to work hard, pay attention to what they are working on, and to be loyal to their crew chiefs without complaints or protest," Glauz said. "You've got to work hard for your crew chief because they have the knowledge and connections that you need. They don't have to give it to you. You need to earn it."

With more than two decades of racing experience under his tool belt, Glauz says that he still has a lot to learn to become a successful crew chief. Keeping up with a demanding schedule and the pressure to win are nerve-wracking. And if that weren't enough, Glauz has family and friends' eyes upon him at Michigan.

Glauz is returning to his home state this week, but there's not much time for a family reunion. There's a job to do. Nonetheless, welcome home rookie.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Derrike Cope , Rick Mast , Tim Steele