|Glendine (Glen) Porter|
|Walnut Creek, CA|
- Advertisement -
|Art of RoadRacing|
|Executive Assistant to the President of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency|
|Rack of lamb|
Favorite TV show:
|I can’t choose. I love too many of them!|
|Some type of Porsche|
When Glendine “Glen” Porter decided to attend her first NASA HPDE, she didn’t quite know what to expect. Well, she had some preconceived notions, but to her relief, they were all unfounded.
“I think one of my biggest misconceptions, the thing that worried me the most when I first came out to the track, being a woman, I thought the guys wouldn’t want me out there,” she said. “I thought I was going to get this attitude like ‘What’s a chick doing at the track?’”
Anyone who has attended a NASA event knows the welcome mat is out for everyone, and that obviously includes women, and it turns out Scott Neville, an old friend of hers, was involved with NASA and talked her into giving it a try.
“I knew Scott from college, and he was telling me about NASA and that he had gotten into racing and he was building his first Spec E30 at that time,” she said. “He encouraged me to come out to the track and try HPDE. And, not to put too fine a point on it, when he told me, he said ‘When we were in college, your driving used to scare the s–t out of me. Maybe you should come out to the track.’ So, I came out and I did it, and I was totally hooked.”
Her path into racing seems somewhat unlikely, however. She admits she’s always enjoyed cars, and that she would get up early as a little girl to watch live Formula 1 broadcasts from Europe. But no one in her family was into cars, and none of her friends was, either, so cars were a dormant interest for most of her life.
Porter has spent much of her adult life in academia. She earned a a BA in art history, an MBA, and an MA in world and European history. Porter also has completed her course work for a Ph.D. except for writing her dissertation, but she has since made a career change from the University of California system. She is now the executive assistant to the president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, a 106-year-old nonprofit that advocates for social justice and juvenile, and child welfare systems.
Not long after her first HPDE in her Audi A4, she bought a dedicated track-day car from Walter Ford at Valley Motorwerks, a BMW E30 she kept in Northern California. Before she moved back to the Bay Area, where she grew up, she would drive up from Southern California, park her Audi, and take the BMW to the track.
“All the Spec E30 guys were always helping me with my car, showing me how to work on it, because I was up there by myself, and they would give me driving tips,” she said. “They were so nice.”
As Porter climbed the HPDE ladder, she also got involved as a crew member for three teams at three different 25 Hours of Thunderhill events. She also has helped with some of the administrative duties for The Art of Roadracing, a race craft clinic put on by Juan Pineda and Dean Thomas at Thunderhill Raceway.
“It was really successful. People loved it, and (NASA Executive Director) Jerry Kunzman was very much behind it because he also felt very strongly that it contributed to track safety,” she said. “It’s not for people in HPDE. It’s for people who already have their racing licenses, who want to get faster and who want to become better racers.”
Porter has taken the course to improve her skills. Another one of the early notions she had was that racing was easy, but it wasn’t long before she learned otherwise.
“You know, I thought, ‘Racing can’t be that hard. I’m a good driver. I can get out there and do that,’” she said. “But until you get out there and do it, you don’t realize how much skill it takes. It’s not that simple, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.”
Porter has since sold her E30 and has been sharing a Spec Miata with Pineda, who is building a new Miata — a ’99, of course. Looking forward, her goals are to spend more time at the track. She’s also focused on bringing down her lap times.
“I’ve raced infrequently and done some track days on and off for the last couple of years, and I’m looking forward to doing it on a more regular basis,” Porter said. “The whole NASA experience was just great. They made me feel so welcome. That’s one of the reasons I stayed on. It was a completely different experience than I expected, because I expected to feel shut out, and instead I felt totally welcomed.
“I’m glad to see more women coming out,” she added. “Slowly but surely we are seeing more women. I think something that maybe keeps women away, that, you know, they’re going to be rejected or the guys aren’t going to want them out there. I found exactly the opposite to be true.”