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.

"I whacked every corner on that car," Glen says. "I couldn't even look at it for two months-it was that bad for me. But something just clicked one day, and I had to have another Outlaw Mustang."

Somehow, Glen located a Chicago Mustang that didn't have a speck of rust on it. Fittingly, the notchback was an '89 model. He salvaged the drivetrain from the wrecked car, had Tommy Z of TRZ work his magic on the chassis, and the new car was good for 8.10s on the stock suspension at the '02 NMRA Bradenton event. Before the '03 season, TRZ again updated the car with a ladder-bar suspension. Glen added new FAST electronics, and he was ready for another season. This time the car was going 7.90s, and it was competitive at Bradenton and Columbus. But, again, bad luck came Glen's way with a wreck at the World Ford Challenge. He hustled to get the car ready for Bowling Green-the World Finals for NMRA and one of the biggest Outlaw Mustang races of the year.

"I didn't think I was an underdog," Glen says of his thoughts before the big race. "I had old-school technology. I just wanted to go rounds. It was the only race I went past the third round. I'd never won a race in my life!"

And, as the event went down, Glen suddenly surfaced as a force in SSO. Qualified in the number 29 position of 32 cars, Glen did the impossible-he won one of the biggest Outlaw Mustang drag races the world had ever seen with a car that cost a fraction of some of the top qualifiers! Whether by mechanical breakage (Dwayne James), crashes (Gary Rohe) by his competitors, or through shear determination, he wore down the competition with consistent 7.90s that just couldn't be beat. Glen was still getting contingency checks when we last talked to him, but that one race netted him more than $6,000.

Surprisingly, before the Bowling Green race, Glen sold the car. He plans on someday building a 25.2-certified chassis car and returning to SSO. For now, he's content to build up a '67 Mustang fastback in the popular Eleanor theme that everyone is going for these days.

As far as the next car goes, Glen says, "It's got to be another old notchback. The new cars are nice, but I want a true 5.0 Mustang. I'm just comfortable in it."

Was it a one-race wonder, a flash in the pan, or 15 minutes of fame? Or could it be that Glen's victory at Bowling Green was the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication to the sport he so treasures?

Block FRPP {{{A4}}}
Displacement 342 ci
Cylinder Heads Trick Flow Street
Heats ported by {{{Fox}}} Lake Power Products
Camshaft Cam Motion
Intake Manifold {{{Ford}}} truck lower
ported by Fox Lake; Vortech Igloo upper
Throttle Body Accufab 90mm
Power Adder Precision 91mm
turbocharger (32-psi boost)
Exhaust Custom built by Glen Rollinger
Fuel System MagnaFlow pump,
Vortech rails, Paxton regulator,
Precision 160-lb/hr injectors
Transmission JW Turbo 400
w/4,800-rpm Neal Chance converter
Rearend TRZ Fab-9 w/Strange
Engineering internals, 3.50 gears
Engine Management FAST, tuned by Glen
Ignition MSD
Gauges Auto Meter
K-Member D&D
A-Arms D&D
Springs Maximum Motorsports
coilover conversion
Struts Lakewood {{{90}}}/10
Wheels Centerline Warrior
Tires Skinnies
Brakes Lamb disks
Springs Penske coilover
Shocks TRZ
Traction Devices TRZ ladder bar, TRZ
antiroll bar
Wheels Centerline Warrior
Tires Mickey Thompson
28x10.5 slicks
Brakes Lamb disks
Chassis Stiffening Custom 12-point
chrome-moly cage w/Funny Car driver’s
cage by TRZ and SSO-legal mini-tub