Lake Norman & Mooresville

18-year-old aims to make it big in a fast way

Not many high school kids can say they've driven laps in a stock car at 182 mph at the famed Daytona International Speedway or have notched 196 career racing wins and 20 national and state championships.

But Ryan Glenski, a senior at Lake Norman High who lives on Kemp Road in Mooresville, is not your typical high school student.

Glenski hits the books by day like any other student, but after class, his focus is purely racing.

Glenski has spent the last 14 years competing in a number of racing series and divisions in hopes of landing a shot at the big time. That shot seems to have possibly arrived on the 18-year-old's doorstep, as Glenski will be competing in his first season in the Automobile Racing Club Association (ARCA) series.

Glenski will be driving for former driver Andy Hillenburg.

Hillenburg, a 20-year veteran who has raced everything with four tires and recently purchased Rockingham Speedway, has been following Glenski's progress since he was 14. Hillenburg, who also owns and operates Fast Track Driving School in Harrisburg, liked what he saw in the young Glenski after having him test one of his ARCA cars at Daytona Jan. 11-13.

"I'm very fortunate to see a lot of young talent at my driving school," said Hillenburg. "When I saw Ryan, I saw a lot of raw talent. He doesn't drive like an 18-year-old. When I took him to Daytona to test a couple of weeks ago, that was his first time on a big track like that, and he passed with flying colors. He has what it takes to make it to the top. Right now, we're looking to secure a sponsor so we can hopefully race at Daytona. Either way, you will see Ryan in an ARCA car at some point this season."

Glenski hopes to compete in the season-opening Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Feb. 12 in Daytona, where the 80-lap shootout is one of the most exciting events that kicks off speedweeks each year.

"I'm real excited," said Glenski. "Andy has great equipment and he is a great mentor to have. Going to Daytona and testing was a ton of fun. I can't wait to get back there."

Glenski moved to Mooresville when he was 4 years old from Syracuse, N.Y. His father, Randy Glenski, raced dirt modifieds in upstate New York for 20 years, but wanted the family to be in the center of the stock car world, where Ryan would have more of an opportunity to get into the sport.

That move to Mooresville led to young Glenski racing go-karts at the age of 5. Five years later, Glenski made the jump to the Bandolero Series. At age 14 he got a great opportunity driving in the Allison Legacy Series, owned by former NASCAR driver Donnie Allison, brother of hall of fame driver Bobby Allison. After a two-year stint competing and gaining valuable knowledge from the Allisons, Glenski made the move to the Late Model Series at age 16.

"I gained a lot of knowledge along the way in all those series," said Glenski. "Now I feel I'm ready to make the move to ARCA."

Ryan's mother, Karin Glenski, says she is extremely proud of what Ryan has accomplished and confident about his future.

"He really does possess the talent to become a major factor in any race series," she said. "Ryan has a gift of talent to win in anything he sits in; it's the lack of money that keeps Ryan from entering the major leagues. We would love to find the sponsorship to run in the ARCA Series full time if we had the money."

Glenski says his primary goal this season is to get as much seat time as possible in the ARCA series.

"If we can race in five or six races this year in the ARCA series that would be great," he said. "I just need to get as much seat time as possible and that's the goal right now. Of course that also depends on sponsorship money."

Like many young drivers, Glenski's goal is to make it to the NASCAR Sprint Cup one day, and he seems to be on the right path.

"That's the goal," said Glenski. "I just want to keep climbing the ladder."