July 1, 2004

If you've ever raced a Mustang at a big event, it's difficult not to imagine that your efforts would lead to bigger and better things. Dreaming of a national championship in one of the many heads-up classes is not uncommon amongst even the casual Mustang racer. A little less ambitious but just as inspiring are those racers who want to come out to one race, beat up on the top dogs, and then just slip back into anonymity.

With the rising talent level present at the all-Ford events these days, it's next to impossible for one of the unsponsored cars to step up to the challenges of the top cars, especially when talking about NMRA's Super Street Outlaw-arguably the most challenging heads-up class in all of street-car drag racing. But every once in a while, the stars align, things go a racer's way, and the years of hard work and perseverance pay off in a big way. Such is the story of Glen Rollinger, a Chicago-area hot shoe whose dedication to the Mustang hobby came full circle at the NMRA World Finals when he took down the fastest field of Outlaw Mustangs ever assembled.

There are hundreds of guys like Glen who canvas the roads and back alleys of America. They pour their lives into their cars, saving every extra nickel and trading mechanical skills for parts. They buy used parts, fix them up, and use them in competition against the most expensive race motors money can buy. All the while, they amass a wealth of knowledge about Mustangs and racing in general.

Glen has had a lot of Mustangs-he bought his first (a '69 Mach 1) when he was only 13 years old. By 1992, he was working at D.S.S., putting together small-block Fords for other speed freaks during the day, while assembling his own little creation at night. His '89 hatchback sported a Vortech A-Trim, and it ran in the 12s. By 1994, Glen upgraded his combination to a Vortech S-Trim, and the car was running 11.50s. He had also moved to ASSC Racing where his daily tutelage under the watchful eyes of Jim Summers and Larry Steiner certainly raised his skill level with all things fast and furious.

"Back then, on the streets of Chicago," Glen says, "you had to run nines to be anything. For me, I had to beat Jimmy Dahl [another Chicago-based SSO racer], and we'd do whatever it took to do that."

Along with Kenny Moss, Glen was one of the first people to install a J-Trim Vortech Mondo on a stock 5.0 engine. [Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a project car!] ASSC called these cars Project Stocker, and it had several that were cleaning the streets of Chicago. Glen ran 9.80s in this trim-he had to replace head gaskets every weekend, but the racing was wild. Winning a couple hundred bucks a night kept the car financed, while the labor to keep the thing together was just a good time for Glen. When he started bending stock connecting rods, he knew it was time to build a motor.

Built in late 1994, the Fast Times 342 under the hood of Glen's 5.0 Mustang has seen more laps than a dog dish, and it's still in the car to this day. With a stout bottom end in the car, he could now invest in a serious head/intake/cam package. He also moved up to a ProCharger D-2C, which allowed the '89 to run 8.70s without an intercooler. This went on for some time, until 2000 when Glen made his jump to a turbocharger. He coupled this to a Vortech Igloo and was immediately rewarded with a dependable and reliable combination that returned 8.50s without a belt. Glen continued to fine-tune his combination until he got a best e.t. of 8.30-still on the stock suspension.

Glen had always followed the sanctioning bodies. He crewed for ASSC with the Pro 5.0 and Outlaw cars, and by 2001 he was an up-and-coming star in NMRA SSO. Then, at the Columbus, Ohio, event, disaster struck. It was the first round of qualifying, and an out-of-control Sam Vincent T-boned Glen at mid-track. The wreck was bad, cracking several of Glen's ribs and totaling his trusty LX. He healed, but the time, money, and effort put into the Mustang were gone forever.