MotorCities National Heritage Area logo
grandfather_grandson_car-cropped.jpg

By Robert Tate, Award-Winning Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Ebony Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed
Published 6.19.2024

Cheryl Linn Glass Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed 1Cheryl Linn Glass (Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed)

Cheryl Linn Glass (1961-1997) was one of the first African American female professional race car drivers in the United States. She was born on December 24, 1961 in Mountain View California. Her auto racing career began when she started her own business at nine years old, driving sprint cars in Washington state.

Cheryl Linn Glass with sprint car 1980 Ebony Magazine RESIZED 2Cheryl Linn Glass with sprint car, 1980 (Ebony Magazine)

Glass excelled as a young short track driver, earning “Rookie of the Year” honors and enjoying the spirit of competition. She would later become a state and regional champion, which would drive her into the racing history books. Competing in the Washington Quarter Midget Association, she won several races and became one of the circuits top 10 drivers. Glass then turned professional, racing at Skagit County Speedway.

Cheryl Linn Glass National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum 3Cheryl Linn Glass (National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum)

In 1979, Glass started appearing on television, speaking about her racing experiences and the skills she needed to learn to improve as a professional driver. In October 1980, she was seriously injured in a racing accident that involved a non-winged sprint car during the main event of the Western World Championships at the Manzanita Speedway near Phoenix, Arizona. After that, she became more cautious about her racing career.  

Cheryl Linn Glass sitting on sprint car 1982 Road and Track RESIZED 4Cheryl Linn Glass sitting on sprint car, 1982 (Road and Track)

Glass became a crowd favorite and received a lot of media attention for being a trailblazing driver in a difficult male-dominated field. She also worked hard to acquire sponsorships for her racing teams. One of her major sponsors was the Seattle Eyeglass Company, which was owned and operated by Sally Kaye.

Cheryl Linn Glass at Eastbay Raceway 1981 Spring Car Hall of Fame Museum RESIZED 5Cheryl Linn Glass at Eastbay Raceway, 1981 (Sprint Car Hall of Fame Museum)

Later, Glass moved to Florida and competed in the World of Outlaws Circuit. She would also travel to various automotive events while continuing to concentrate on her racing career. In 1981, she won an award from the Northeast Sprint Car Association, a great honor.  

Cheryl Linn Glass Spring Car Hall of Fame Museum 6Cheryl Linn Glass (Sprint Car Hall of Fame Museum)

Unfortunately, Glass never achieved her goal of racing in the Indianapolis 500, but she did compete in the CART Indy Lights racing series in 1990 and 1991. On June 17, 1987, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, she was honored alongside the late Coretta Scout King at their annual award presentation. Glass died on July 15, 1997 at the age of 35.

Cheryl Linn Glass RESIZED 7Cheryl Linn Glass racing in the CART Indy Lights circuit

In conclusion, Cheryl Linn Glass, along with other talented female race car drivers, will be honored at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn during the “She Drives Road Tour” exhibit celebrating women in motorsports on July 11, 2024. For more information, contact the Automotive Hall of Fame at 313.240.4000.

Cheryl Linn Glass trophy collection 1980 Ebony Magazine RESIZED 8Cheryl Linn Glass' trophy collection, 1980 (Ebony Magazine)

Bibliography

Givens, Linda Holder. “Cheryl Linn Glass (1961-1997).” Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, King County. HistoryLink.org.

Steele, Francesca. “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Fast: Remembering Cheryl Linn ‘The Lady’ Glass, 1961-1997.” Hemmings.  

Mondi, Agnes A. “Cheryl Linn Glass: The First Black Female Professional Race Car Driver in the United States.” Spot Covery/Sports & Recreation, January 29, 2024.