Etta Glidden was introduced to the sport of drag racing by her husband Bob at a time in the sport when most women involved in it were seen more than heard. True to the times, Etta stood by Bob as a significant member of the team while he was making a name for himself as one of the true leaders in whatever class he was competing in.
While they competed in several classes at the beginning of their involvement in the sport, their most significant impact on the sport was in Pro Stock. Throughout the team’s years of involvement in the sport, Etta was always beside her legendary husband, Pro Stock superstar, and Hall of Fame driver Bob Glidden. By the time the team retired from racing, it had collected 85 NHRA class wins, and 10 NHRA Winston World Championships. Etta was always a fixture at the starting line and in the pits as the Glidden family raced their Ford Pintos, Fairlanes, Mustangs, and Thunderbirds (as well as one year with a Plymouth Arrow) against some of the very toughest competitors in the Pro Stock class history. As the Glidden Family’s race program developed, Etta served as Crew Chief, keeping the team organized and was there to assist in any way possible, working on the car with her sons-Billy and Rusty-, with Bob’s direction, yet being a mother at the track and at home. There were many of those iconic, leaping celebratory starting line moments with Billy and Rusty as Bob recorded another victory, but those were made possible with Etta’s total dedication to the hard work she did behind the scenes in the pits and at the shop in Whiteland, Ind.
There was also the humanitarian side of Etta that few have known about. She is one of the three ‘Founding Mothers’ of the Drag Racing Association of Women (DRAW) that brought together several of the wives of the leading drivers and personalities of the sport in 1984 following Shirley Muldowney’s life-threatening crash that pointed to the need for both financial and moral support of drag racing families following accidents. Her tenacity and ability to handle the business and family needs made Etta Glidden one of the sport’s most respected personalities. The Patricia Garlits Memorial Award is given out annually to a woman who has “contributed to the sport of drag racing through their professional activities- at the track-and/or their personal activities-off the track-which promotes the sport in a positive manner or to the success of the sport.”