Many racers and fans around the country recognize Harold Glissen. His outgoing personality and friendly nature make him a great person to talk to. He has overcome adversity and rose to the ranks of an expert racer and now in his 40’s he is continuing to do what he loves. Race motocross. Oh, by the way, Harold does it all with just one arm. Here is the story of Harold Glissen.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…… I was born without a left forearm and hand. I’ve been riding since I was 10 years old and racing motocross since 1979. I own and operate a full landscaping company, Glissen Landscaping LLC since 1986. We install and design landscaping, interlocking paver patios, driveways, walkways and retaining walls. We’re currently running two divisions, landscaping and lawn maintenance.
In the beginning, you had a tough time getting to race in New Jersey. The tracks didn’t want to let you race due to your “disability” Tell us a little about your tryout with Raceway Park. Yes, it was tough in the beginning. Race promoters-Ken Landerman and Jay Irwin at Raceway Park thought it might be dangerous for a one-armed kid to race motocross due to insurance reasons. My friend, Ray Cross, pleaded with them to allow me to ride at a practice session to asses my abilities. They liked how I rode and allowed me to race that day in the 125 Amateur Class. It was a little different back then because you would have 4-6 125cc qualifiers and they only took the top 20 riders from each moto to make the finals. It was very difficult and I didn’t qualify until 1980.
You had a successful amateur career and moved up to the expert class. As an expert level racer for many years, you even raced some nationals back in the day. Tell us a little about that. I had several 125 and 250 Amateur wins and turned Expert in 1990. I received my pro license in 1998 and raced the 125 Nationals fulfilling a childhood dream of mine. I had some good rides and found my ability. I rode to the limit of that ability. I was featured in a few magazines and several newspaper publications. Today I compete in the 25+, 30+, and 40+ Expert classes.
Last fall you went down to Travis Pastrana’s house to try and backflip. How did that go? John Sigismondi got me invited to Travis Pastrana’s house. I went down and met with Travis’ dad Robert, what a character, he went through and gave me some pointers as to what to do and assured me that I would not miss the foam pit. I was a little nervous at first, which I’m sure you can understand, but once I had my helmet and goggles on I went for it. My first attempt seemed like an inverted Barrel Roll and I landed completely upside down on my head. It felt a little weird being inside the foam pit with minimal lighting and air. It only took them a few minutes to dig me out but it felt like forever. The next few attempts got better rotations and the tires went into the foam first. I can’t wait to go back and try again and eventually do a backflip onto the dirt.
You have been using Bel-Ray lubricants for many years, tell us how your relationship with them got started. As with many young racers, you want to use the best products you can find and Bel-Ray was that product for me. 29 years later, I’m still using Bel-Ray. I have Bel-Ray sponsored since 1998 when I was racing the Nationals. I have a great rapport with the people at Bel-Ray. I’m mainly promoting their products on the local level through my travels by giving out products such as hats, t-shirts, and oil to the kids and their families. More than likely if you give a kid Bel-Ray products you can be sure he will be using them for his entire riding career.
Who would you like to thank for helping out with your racing? Oh boy!! I have a long list of people I’d like to thank over the years. Starting with Ray Cross, a family friend who first took me to a race in 1979. I would also like to thank Bob Sorenson, Malcolm Forbes, Uncle Carmen, Scott Lukaitis, KPS, RRP, Bel-Ray, Action Motor Sports, Stumpy’s Yamaha, Rekluse, Scott Goggles, Dragon, Twin Air, Boyesen, Ed Brazina, Glissen Landscaping and all my friends, fans and people who have inspired me over the years.
Outside of racing you own and operate a hugely successful landscaping business. Tell us about that side of your life. In 1986, I wanted to be self-employed so I could have the freedom to ride more often. So I quit my job at Mobile Research Laboratory, bought a 21” Snapper Lawn Mower and launched my landscaping business. 22 years later, I have designed and installed landscaping, interlocking paver walkways, driveways and patios and retaining walls in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Some of our projects are featured in Cambridge Clayton Block Company brochures and catalogs. We have participated in numerous trade shows and exhibitions such as The Flower and Garden Show at the NJ Convention & Expo Center, The Home Show at Brookdale Community College and The Home Improvement exhibit at The Freehold Raceway Mall. We also have a newly designed website at www.glissenlandscaping.com For more information about our business check out our website. It lists our company philosophy, our services, a photo gallery, and testimonials.
In conclusion, as a long time friend, I have admired Harold’s success as a person in all that he does all the while not realizing the obstacles that he has overcome in everyday life. If you don’t know Harold you should. Stop by and say hi at the track next time you see him.