Three cheers for Chargin' Charlie Glotzbach
Three cheers for Chargin' Charlie Glotzbach
(TOLEDO, Ohio – January 15, 2015) – He was pals with Dale Earnhardt, Sr., drove for industry icons Cotton Owens, Junior Johnson and Richard Childress, twice finished second in the Daytona 500, won NASCAR Sprint Cup and ARCA races, and when they introduce the “old-timers” at Salem Speedway, he still gets the loudest cheers.
“Chargin’” Charlie Glotzbach was born during America’s Great Depression and raced in six different decades over a long and storied career before he finally hung up his helmet for good in 2010.
Today, the 76-year-old Edwardsville, Indiana native dabbles in the used car business, hangs out with Kimmel Racing and still goes to the track to keep up with the latest.
“I buy and sell vehicles. I’ve got a dealers license but it’s a one-man operation. I go to auctions when I need to…I don’t sell a lot, but I get by,” said Glotzbach from the Kimmel Racing shop in Clarksville, Indiana where he hangs out regularly. “I go to the races with the Kimmels once in a while.
“I drove one of Bill Kimmel, Sr.'s cars early on. He still eats breakfast with us at Steak and Shake. He had a restaurant in New Albany (Ind.)…I knew Frank and Bill since they were in diapers.”
Born on June 19, 1938, before World War II, his racing career reaches back to the mid-1950s when he began racing at the Sportsdrome in Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was there that Glotzbach got labeled with a nick-name that stuck for good.
“The announcer, Charlie Ryle, started calling me ‘Chargin’ Charlie, the Edwardsville Express’. He gave everyone nick-names. Mine stuck.
“I started racing at the Sportsdrome in 1956. By ’57, I was racing every week. Raced against Bill Kimmel, Sr. in the early years. When I first started driving ARCA cars, I drove mine at first...drove Bill Clemons’s car some too.
“I remember I went out to Texas a couple times in ’65 and ’66…went out with my own car, a ’65 Plymouth…I was always partial to Chrysler products. I called Ronnie Householder…the head of Chrysler…and said I was going to Texas to run three ARCA races. He told me there was, ‘no use going out there…Ramo’s (Stott) gunna be there.’ I said, ‘well I can beat them.’ He said, ‘If you feel that way, I’m gunna send you some gears.’ Harry Hyde gave me some used tires. I remember the left sides were Daytona tires. Ernie Derr was there too…he was a big deal. I won two out of three races. I didn’t have no money…had a little garage in Edwardsville. Had a couple dump trucks, but I had no money. Struggled to race, like everyone does now.
“Anyway, that got the attention of some guys. Then I won at Lawrenceburg in Bill Clemons’s ’64 Ford. Then Harry Hyde called me and told me, ‘if you go to Daytona with us, I’ll see if I can get you in our other car. Bobby Isaac drove the other car…K&K Insurance sponsored him. He let me run a few races…ran well at Darlington…ran fourth at Charlotte.
“Then Cotton Owens asked me if I’d like to drive one of his cars. Him and David (Pearson) got into it…David went to Ford…Cotton ran Dodges…so I went to driving for him. We won the Charlotte Cup race. I drove for a lot of different folks back then. Won with Junior Johnson at Bristol in a Chevy.”
Glotzbach also nearly won the Daytona 500 twice.
“Ran second twice at Daytona in Cotton’s car. First one LeeRoy Yarbrough won it…got beat on the last lap. The second one AJ (Foyt) won in a Ford.
“One year at Talladega in the ARCA race we turned a lap of 201 (mph) with a restrictor plate…sat on the pole. They changed everyone’s plate after that…on the Cup side too. We were three-to-four mile an hour faster, and they didn’t want us running faster than Cup.”
Glotzbach also had a unique association with Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
“Had a lot of success driving Floyd Garrett’s car…he got it from Richard Childress. It was one of Earnhardt’s old cars. I won three (ARCA races) in a row at Talladega and so did Earnhardt on the Cup side. I won on Saturday and he (Earnhardt) won on Sunday.
“The first time it happened…Competition Cams made a promotional poster with me and Earnhardt pictured together. It said, ‘Men in Black Steal Purse at Talladega’. The next time it read, ‘Men in Black Steal Purse Again’. The next time, they didn’t make one.
“I knew his dad Ralph before I knew Dale. Raced with Ralph at Charlotte. You know there was a lot about Dale that a lot of people didn’t know about. There was a lot more to him than the 'Intimidator' thing. He had a soft spot in him. He helped so many people that no one ever knew about, and it wasn't just racers he helped. He just couldn’t ever say anything about it because the whole world would have come begging. When NASCAR lost him, they lost everything as far as I’m concerned. NASCAR would be a lot different today if he had lived. He was always real nice to me; I really liked him. He was bigger than life but he never acted like it.”
Glotzbach also drove for Junior Johnson.
“I was really fortunate. Once I had some success, I started getting some help. One year, Junior offered me a car. He said, just take it and bring back what’s left. That’s the way people made deals in those days…no contracts…just a handshake deal. We ran the car at Pocono and Talladega.
“I really enjoyed running those ARCA races in the later years…even got to do some testing for Richard Childress. Tested at Daytona in ’92 and ’93. Tested Mike Skinner’s car. He came back for the race and sat on the pole with it.”
These days, Glotzbach gets around in his Chrysler 300 making the local rounds and chatting it up with his good friends at Kimmel Racing.
“It’s neat to see all the new changes coming. I wonder if they’re not making more rules than they can police. Some of the changes take the ingenuity out of the crew chiefs and mechanics by controlling the shocks, springs and motors but that’s the direction they’re all heading.
“I understand the safety stuff…I agree with all that. That new body on the new cars is great...the styrofoam in the doors and all the safety features that come with the new car is really nice. The cars look great…it looks like a car again.”