A Ford Lover’s Dream Team

Drag Racer - - Contents - Text and Pho­tos by Pete Ward

IF YOU’RE A FORD GUY AND PLAN ON AT­TEND­ING A WEST COAST RACE, GET THEE TO PAUL GLADDEN’S PIT AREA. What awaits will have you lick­ing your chops. His Top Sports­man Mus­tang and Top Drag­ster en­tries fea­ture mega-horse­power Ford Hemi en­gines.

Gladden is a dyed-in-the-wool FoMoCo stal­wart. The two classes in which he com­petes are awash in big­block Chevy vari­ants whose high level of per­for­mance is widely ac­knowl­edged. It would have been so much eas­ier (and cheaper!) to join the herd, but Paul would have none of that. No ex­pense has been spared in the con­struc­tion of these unique power plants, right down to the drag­ster’s jewel-like bil­let, en­graved and pol­ished valve cov­ers (see ac­com­pa­ny­ing tech info, pgs. 30-31).

To a ca­sual ob­server, the most no­table fea­ture of Gladden’s pit area is the Mus­tang’s paint/ graph­ics. His rea­son for the mil­i­tary-themed de­sign isn’t to grab at­ten­tion, but to honor fam­ily mem­bers who have hon­or­ably served our na­tion. His son, Tech. Sgt. Jaime Medina, is a highly dec­o­rated mem­ber of the USAF’s Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Force. Jaime’s grand­fa­ther, Army Sgt. Al­bert L. Wal­ter, took part in World War II’s D-Day in­va­sion and Gladden’s fa­ther, Army Sgt. Irvin F. Gladden, fought in the Korean Con­flict.

Gladden, who counts F/C shoe “Fast Jack” Beck­man as a friend fol­low­ing his tute­lage at Frank Haw­ley’s Drag Rac­ing School, hints that a faster ride may be in his fu­ture. We won­der how a Ford Hemi would per­form on nitro.

One fi­nal note (and per­haps the most im­por­tant) Paul would like to thank his wife, Martha, for her en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port of his rac­ing en­deav­ors.


 The Mus­tang’s pas­sen­ger side, fea­tur­ing mod­ern air­craft, pays trib­ute to Paul’s son, Tech. Sgt. Jaime Me­d­ina. P-51 Mus­tangs, which flew in World War II and Korea when fam­ily mem­bers Al­bert Wal­ter and Irvin Glad­den served, adorn the driver’s side....

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