A major ‘dent’ turned this mild-mannered Pro Mod into a striking super villain
Written By Steve Baur
Photography By Kevin DiOssi
Race cars have a way of making an impression on those that watch them run. Sometimes it’s the vehicle’s on-track performance. Sometimes it’s the way it sounds. Sometimes, it’s the way it looks, and quite often it is a combination of those facets.
For Louisville, Kentucky’s Aaron Glaser, his father who introduced him to drag racing, and it was the wild Pro Mod machines of the ’80s that he dreamed of when he wasn’t at the track. Unbeknownst to the talented automotive collision specialist that Glaser has become, his own car would make its own impression on fans after an on-track incident lead to a not-so-conventional change in his car’s appearance.
Glaser’s father was a gearhead from early on, too, and did a bit of street racing and track competition. His vehicle of choice was a 1967 Camaro with a small-block Chevy engine and a Doug Nash stick shift.
“Dad bought it when he was 17 and it evolved into the Super Gas car. He bought a Chris Alston chassis kit, cut the frame out of the car and built the new one — it’s a home-built chassis car,” Glaser explained.”
It wasn’t long before the younger Glaser was behind the wheel of his own race car, as he got started in the Junior Dragster category.
“I raced Junior dragsters when I was a kid,” Glaser recalled. “Everyone wanted to run Top Fuel, but at the end of the day, that stuff did nothing for me even from a young age. I always loved door cars and had a passion for them.”
As Glaser told us, he was about 14 and entered in a Junior Dragster race at a track that had two Pro Mods show up for a match race. It was Pro Mod standout Scotty Cannon against the wild TostiAsti Lamborghini Countach Pro Mod.
“Those are what really got me into it,” he told us. “We used to run a lot of IHRA races and I would eat, drink, and relax during the Fuel cars and then go watch the Pro Mods run. It’s an attainable class for an average guy. It’s not inexpensive or easy, but more accessible than Top Fuel.”
When it came to drag racing, Glaser not only followed in his father’s footsteps, but also his older sister, Amy, who drove a Super Comp dragster.
“I was lucky and got to drive both cars,” Glaser said. “The dragster was way too boring and didn’t interest me. I drove the Camaro for a year and then bought a Tim McAmis-built ‘63 Corvette in 2000 and drove that until 2008. We also had Garrett Race Cars build us a ‘68 Camaro that we raced for several years and sold it to buy the car we have now.
While the cars Glaser found himself piloting were tube-chassis machines, he hadn’t jumped into the Pro Modified ranks just yet, but rather competed in Top Sportsman.
“The people in that class are phenomenal,” Glaser expressed. “I ran it from 2000 until today and still dabble in it. That’s how we cut our teeth and learned how to go fast. We started with a basic big-block and a single-nitrous system and it evolved like everything else. We had a 5-inch-bore-space 762 and ran it for a couple of years, then stepped up to an 864.”
Glaser raced Top Sportsman for 13 years and won two IHRA championships and an ADRL championship during that time. In 2013, he sold his previous ’68 Camaro and picked up his current 1969 Camaro-bodied, Jerry Bickel Race Cars-built Camaro pictured here. It was at this time that the car received its first Glaser Collision Center custom paint job.
“I’m a paint and body guy and used to paint a lot of race cars. I take pride in what I do and the guy who got my dad into racing had a ‘69 Camaro that was Frost Green and dad always thought it was cool. I pulled the card for that color and did a spray out and ended up painting it that color and made it look factory. It was a hit, especially with the older guys,” Glaser recalled, who raced the car in Top Sportsman for a few years before he started looking at running Pro Modified.
Built as a Pro Mod from the start, Glaser’s new Camaro needed more power than its Top Sportsman combination had to offer. That’s when the Camaro came apart and Glaser set about making the necessary upgrades, including dropping in a much larger, 903-cube Billy Albert Racing Engines powerplant and adding electronic fuel injection, and much more.
While working on the Camaro, he also purchased a ’68 Firebird Top Sportsman roller in 2016 and dropped in the 864 combination from the Camaro. Having two purpose-built cars would mean he wouldn’t have to change the chassis and tuning setups to run each class. And with both cars being built at JBRC within six months of each other, it would be relatively easy to swap parts between the cars if needed, and both were similar to Glaser when he was behind the wheel.
With that Firebird, he made his VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod debut at the 2017 NMCA Bluegrass Nationals in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
“It was close to home and I decided to see what we could do.” His 864ci-powered Pontiac qualified fifth in the 13-car field with a stout 3.92 performance. Eliminations didn’t go so well, as he went out in the first round, but Glaser was suitably impressed with his performance and the organization.
“I thought we did good for it being our first race and figured if we can do that well with a Top Sportsman car, then we should do really well with a Pro Mod,” Glaser told us.
Quite a bit of work went into the Camaro for it’s new life as a Pro Mod.
“We had raced it for years, so I stripped the car and repainted it because of nicks and scratches,” Glaser said. “We also put the 903 in it and the EFI, put all new glass in it, new Weld Delta wheels, new heim ends, new wiring— we rebuilt the car top to bottom and repainted the chassis, too. When I rolled it out, it was mint.”
Three races after his NMCA debut, Glaser’s Camaro was finally ready for the 2017 NMCA World Street Finals at Indy. There, he qualified second of 19 cars with a 3.87 at 188.78 mph. Glaser took out Billy Glidden in the first round of eliminations, but slowing 4.14 run in the second round prevented him from advancing.
The following year would be both difficult and eye-opening for Glaser. He made his 2018 season debut at the second race of the season in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Talk about taking the wind out of your sails! On the last qualifying run, I spun around and smacked the wall. I was pretty defeated at that point,” Glaser explained. “I spent all winter, hundreds of man hours on it, and went out and tore my junk up. We came home and tore it all apart. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought once we looked at it at home. Nothing on the chassis was hurt at all.”
Not having to put the chassis on a jig and have bars straightened or replaced was great, but badass paint job number two didn’t fare as well, nor did much of the car’s carbon fiber body, which proved to be the most difficult part of the repair.
“I couldn’t get the quarter panel to fix it — everyone was weeks out,” Glaser told us. “I called David Monday and he had a customer who had wrecked a car, but on the opposite side. He had the quarter panel, wing, and deck lid! The goal was to make Bowling Green, which was in five weeks — it was a hustle for us.”
With a relatively short time to make the necessary repairs, concessions would have to be made and certain things prioritized over others. Needless to say, there just wasn’t time for one of Glaser’s custom paint jobs.
“I’m so hard headed and needed to prove to myself that it wasn’t going to stop me. That’s how Two Face came about. It was Monday of the race week and we got the car together and scaled it out. I had time to fix it, but not paint it and just sprayed it in black primer. Mike [Rice] knew something was wrong; I’m a paint and body guy going to a race with a primer car. I’ve never raced a car in primer in my life. I was whining about it and him being a smart ass, he said, ‘Just rattle can it,’ and the light went off.”
The graffiti went on first and then Rice suggested the Two Face theme.
“It was a joke at first, but it came out pretty cool. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it. Everything I usually do is airbrush and fine detail and this is a 180 from what I’m used to. It blew up like wildfire and I decided to keep it for a while.”
Though he didn’t make it into the show that weekend, Two Face made it into the hearts and minds of fans who were checking it out all weekend long.
At the following race in Joliet, Illinois, the Camaro was running quick and fast once again and Glaser qualified in the eighth spot of a 29-car group all vying for the 16 spots, but the rest of the season only got tougher from there on out.
Despite the way the 2018 season went, Glaser was enjoying the warm reception that Two Face’s fan base provided and when the season concluded, he decided to keep the Two Face theme for 2019 even though it was going to get more paint and bodywork.
“It still needed a new front end from the accident in Atlanta. I had fixed it, but I wasn’t happy with the panel gaps. I hung the new front end and repainted it again over last winter. It’s an insane amount of hours.”
As you can see from the photos, Two Face still has the same look, but comparing the previous artwork to the current artwork, keen eyes will notice that the graffiti is now on the opposite side, and the black primer is brightened up with a contemporary shiny gray primer look. He reapplied the Harvey Dent graphic and clear-coated the entire car. Fully embracing the theme, the team even has team apparel with the Two Face concept!
Glaser returned to NMCA competition at the mid-point of the season and though he qualified relatively well at most of the last three races and took a couple of first-round wins, he hasn’t quite been able to get past that point in the ultra-competitive class. Time is running out for him to improve as he told us he has a few more years before he turns his attention toward his children and their racing adventures.
“I’ll have three kids driving in about three years,” Glaser told us. “I’ll hit it for the next three years and then step out and let the kids drive. For Glaser, racing has always been a strong thread sewn into the fabric of the Glaser family.
“It’s my family with me every time I roll out of the shop and the kids are with as long as they don’t have school.” Glaser’s father, Gene, and mother, Susan, play pivotal roles in the crew, too.
“Mom is a huge part of the race team. I’ve been racing since I was 12 and I can count the number of races mom has missed on one hand. She runs the weather station, downloads the Race Pak, and does a ton of other essential things every weekend. At the NMCA Finals in 2018, Dad couldn’t make it and Mom was my only crew. We ran Pro Mod, she backed me up, set me wheelie bars and did all the normal crew chief business — Mom is a bad ass!”
Glaser’s wife, Heather, and kids, Connor, Brady, and Emma, are all part of the team as well, and it’s the children that Glaser is gearing up for next.
“Connor is almost 15 and we’re going to start him out in the Nostalgia Super Stock class. We just bought a ’68 Camaro and are going to try and get it done this winter. I’ll break it in for him and then he’ll take over. He’s been driving a Junior Dragster since he was eight. He’s been at the track ever since he was a baby and has been around it his whole life.” As you can imagine, Connor’s Camaro is going to have a unique paint job, and the plan is to create a tribute to Glaser’s father’s old Camaro.
The NMCA, and likely a pair of Jerry Bickel-built racer cars, will be ready and waiting for the younger Glasers to make their debuts. As they get started in drag racing, their father will have plenty of lessons to hand down, not the least of which include how to overcome adversity and how to step outside of your comfort zone. After all, who would have thought having a “Dent’d” car would be such a positive thing for a collision specialist and custom painter.
Owner: Aaron Glaser and Family
Driver: Aaron Glaser
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Occupation: Owner, Glaser’s Collision Center, four body shops in Louisville
Class: VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod
Crew: Family, Mike Rice
Engine: 5.3-inch bore space Big-Block Chevy
Engine builder: Billy Albert
Displacement: 903 ci
Block: Chuck Newton CN Billet block
Crankshaft: Sonny Bryant
Rods: GRP forged aluminum rods
Pistons: JE Pistons forged aluminum
Cylinder heads: Sonny’s Wedge Head
Valvetrain: Jesel rocker arms, PSI Springs
Camshaft—Brand: LSM custom grind Type: Solid roller
Carburetor or EFI system: EFI Technologies fuel injection
Power-adder: Switzer Nitrous Oxide, five systems
Fuel brand and type: VP C25
Spark plug brand: E3 Spark Plugs
Headers and exhaust:Custom stainless fabricated in house
Transmission: Lenco with Ty-Drive by Todd Tutterow
Torque Converter: Neal Chance lockup unit
Rearend: Jerry Bickel 9.5-inch full floater
Body and/or chassis builder: Jerry Bickel Race Cars (JBRC)
Suspension (Front): JBRC with Lamb struts
Suspension (Rear): JBRC four-link, PRS Penske shocks
Brakes (Front) Brand: Lamb carbon fiber Disc/Drum: Disc
Brakes (Rear) Brand: Lamb carbon Disc/Drum: Disc
Wheels (front) Brand: Weld Size: 15×3.5
Wheels (Rear) Brand: Weld double-beadlock Size: 16×16
Tires (Front) Brand: Hoosier
Tires (Rear) Brand: Hoosier Size: 34.5×16
Fiberglass/Carbon body components: Cynergy Composites all-carbon 1969 Camaro body
Safety equipment: Stroud Safety, Simpson
Vehicle weight: 2,375 pounds
Quickest ET: 3.81-second eighth-mile
Best 60-foot: .952 seconds
Fastest mph: 200.18
Sponsors: Glaser’s Collision Centers, Rice Lawn Care