Date published: May 21, 2010
Some may call it the golden age of Pro Stock racing, but to anyone not named Glidden, Shepherd, Iaconio, or Johnson, it was nothing short of a nightmare. From July 1979 through April 1985, Pro Stock's "Big Four" achieved total domination of the factory hot rod class, combining to win 63 consecutive events. The story of the "Big Four" begins at the 1979 Mile-High Nationals in Denver, where Randy Humphrey ended Bob Glidden's historic 50-round winning streak and went on to win the final against Sonny Bryant. At the next event in Englishtown, Frank Iaconio defeated Glidden in the final, and for the next five and a half years, no other driver besides Iaconio, Glidden, and Lee Shepherd, and Warren Johnson claimed a Pro Stock win. Early on, Glidden, Iaconio, and Shepherd did most of the winning, and Johnson joined the rout in 1982, collecting his first NHRA victory at the Summernationals in Englishtown.
Not surprisingly, Shepherd had the most success during this span, appearing in 44 of 63 finals and collecting 26 victories. He failed to advance past the opening round just once during the streak. Glidden was also a powerhouse, collecting 18 wins in 34 finals while posting just six first-round losses.
The streak finally came to an end at the 1985 Southern Nationals in Atlanta, where Butch Leal, "the California Flash," drove Gil Kirk's Rod Shop Pontiac to a final-round win over Glidden. The streak might well have continued even longer had Shepherd not been killed in a testing accident on March 11, 1985, just weeks before Leal's victory. While Glidden, Iaconio, and Johnson continued to enjoy success, they were soon joined by Bruce Allen, who replaced Shepherd in the Reher- Morrison Camaro, as well as Leal, Joe LePone, and Tony Christian, each of whom scored multiple victories in the following seasons.
Following is a list of the Pro Stock finalists from the 63-race period between the1979 Summernationals in Englishtown through the 1985 Gatornationals in Gainesville.