meet along the way: Carol and Tony Glueck

This story was first published in the September 2023 issue of The Best Years as “Racing Moto-Trials: Couple passes love for sport to son, grandchildren.”

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

When Tony Glueck started riding moto-trials bikes in the late 1970s, he didn’t know he would pass on his interest in the sport not only to his son Joshua Glueck, but also to his three grandchildren, Hailey, Maximus and Kylie Glueck.

His grandchildren, now all teenagers, began riding trials bikes and competing in competitions approximately 10 to 12 years ago. Last year, Hailey, now 18 years old, was the alternate for the USA Trial Des Nations Team and traveled to Italy for the competition; this year, she won the Youth Nationals and was on the USA Trial Des Nations Team that competed in France.

Tony and his wife, Carol Glueck, go with their son, his wife Alicia Glueck and their grandchildren to races across the country. Tony is a checker who “grades” each rider penalizing them with a point if they do something they shouldn’t such as put their foot down; Carol tabulates scores and walks along the course supporting her grandchildren, taking photos and videos of them. This year, they traveled in their RV to Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Tennessee and Rhode Island for their grandchildren’s races, and through the sport, they have made friends who live all throughout the U.S. 

“There’s three generations of us at the race, so that’s kind of neat,” Tony says. “Everybody knows everybody, and it’s a family thing. A family sport.”

Motorcycle trials, often referred to simply as “trials,” consist of riding a moto-trials bike through an obstacle course — over and around objects found naturally in the terrain such as rocks and logs — without touching feet to the ground. If a rider lets their foot touch the ground, takes longer than 90 seconds to complete the course, drives out of bounds, lets the engine stall or backs up, they are penalized with a point, with a maximum of five points; the lower the score, the better. 

The bikes for this sport are lightweight — modern bikes weigh approximately 140 pounds, and vintage bikes weigh approximately 185 to 200 pounds, according to Tony — and are designed for the rider to stand up while riding.

“It’s just an old sport, and it’s living yet, and it’s very popular,” Tony says.

Tony initially got into the sport in the 1970s, doing trials with a group of 10 other men who had trial bikes in the Cape Girardeau area. They went to vintage races through the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association together, competing throughout the Midwest. His son Joshua was born and began racing cross country in the early 1980s. As Joshua got older, he moved into racing motocross. The problem with cross country racing, Tony says, is that Joshua “broke every part of that motorcycle you could break;” the problem with motocross was that “he broke about every bone he could.” 

Once his own children were born, Joshua began participating in trials, too, because it was safer; he got his kids involved in the sport, as well. They have their sights set on riding at the pro level.

Tony served as the president of the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, Midwest Vintage Trials and International Twin Shock Association (ITSA) for a combined total of approximately 20 years, where he performed tasks such as finding places to ride, setting up races and organizing insurance. He retired from being the president of ITSA in 2017. Now, their son is the president of Missouri Illinois Trials Association, and Tony and Carol help him with that.

Tony still competes in regional vintage trials throughout the Central United States; “vintage” bikes are ones with twin shocks. In addition to riding, he also works on and builds bikes, fabricating the parts he can no longer buy for the vintage bikes. At the trials he competes in, he races with Montesa and Fantic trials bikes and has several other vintage bikes, as well, including a ‘75 Kawasaki 250 trial bike and a ‘99 Bultaco trial bike; he says he enjoys racing the vintage bikes because they are slow like he is.

Throughout the years, Tony has won championships and first place in seasons; the past two years, he has taken overall in vintage bikes in Kansas City. Carol says they have a trophy room in their home filled with trophies and plaques, as well as boxes of others that don’t fit in the room. 

“As we can keep doing [the races] and traveling, we want to do it,” Carol says. “‘Cause once you just sit, you just kind of don’t want to do anything anymore.”

Carol says she enjoys seeing the opportunities moto-trials give to her grandchildren.

“It’s great satisfaction in knowing that they’re doing what they like, and I’m able to participate in that and getting to travel with them and seeing all the sights, too,” Carol says. “They’re doing something that they enjoy, that we enjoy, and that he started.” 

Tony agrees.

“It’s been a fun ride, and it’s not over with yet, so we’re going to keep going,” Tony says. “It’s fun.”