An Interview With Carol Glenn – The First Woman of Colour to Obtain A Motor Sport Race and Speed Licence In The United Kingdom

As most of you were aware, I attended Women On The Crossroads Awesome You Motivational Dinner organised by Inspirational Keynote speaker and journalist Sherry Ann Dixon few weeks back, and whilst giving my first ever public speaking presentation (more about that evening in a separate article), I also had the pleasure of meeting and listening to 13 other awesome inspirers stories. I have made it my duty to interview all of the women who spoke that night and would like to introduce you to a remarkable women by the name of Carol Glenn, who has been active within the Motor Sport Industry for over 20 years and is the First Women Of Colour to Have Obtained A Race And Speed Licence In The United Kingdom.

It is not often one comes across women excelling in a heavily male dominated industry whilst adding diversity to Motor Sport  and was immediately intrigued to find out more, including how she first got involved within Motor Sport, what drives her to keep on striving and aiming higher within her career and to hear, first hand in greater detail the logistics surrounding the many roles and responsibilites she has had working as an Official, Clerk of the Course and an Assistant Secretary of Meetings whilst touching on the subject of CV Team Motor Sport, a racing team Carol founded earlier this year and now manages.


I caught up with Carol last week via a recorded conference call and after briefly catching up following WoTC Awesome and the glorious weather the UK has been getting as of late, I began the interview with the most obvious question…

Youve been involved in the Motor Sport Industry since the late 80s… what inspired you to pursue a career within this sport?

Image sourced from Brand Hatch website

Well it didn’t start off as a career. I became a volunteer and that is how I got into involved with Motor Sport. I started off as a marshal in 1988. My partner I was living with at the time always used to disappear on a Saturday and Sunday so asked him one day where he was going to which he replied Brand Hatch.

I went down with him as a spectator and within two or three months I was hooked!

What was your first memory of Motor Sport Racing?

My first memory was going back to early childhood. I come from a family of four girls and we had no history of Motor Sport within my family but I do remember watching on the Television the early Grand Prix’s that used to be held at Brands Hatch when James Hunt was racing. I remember listening to the commentary and the excitement. I also used to watch the RAC Rally that used to be on at the time. My favorite car was a white Audi quarto and said to myself “When I get older I am going to own an Audi Quarto”. I loved seeing them literally fly through the air.

 Who is your favourite Driver of all time?

Of all time??? Woooow! Ooooo, now that is a very good question! *Dani chuckles* I have so many *ponders*

Image sourced from Derek Bell MBE website

I think my greatest driver of all time has got to be Derek Bell, who has raced in F1 and Sportscar racing, which has included being five times winner at Le Man. My favorite race of all time is the Le Man 24 hour race, which I have also had the privilege to marshal at.

Derek is still racing today, mainly at events such as Goodwood, he is such a wonderful driver and I have had the privilege of meeting him in person a few times as well.

You started out as a Volunteer Licenced MSA Official, for those not already familiar; can you describe what this role entailed?

As a stated earlier I started off as a course marshal. For those of you have ever watched F1 Grand Prix and you’ve seen the men and ladies in orange overalls, that is what I did. So wearing my orange overalls, I would have to stand close to the track and anytime a car came off the track, it was our job to run to the car, get the driver out safely and if needs be, push the car to a safe place. If there was gravel on the track I would have to sweep the track.

I then progressed to a flag marshal where I had learnt how to do the flags. There are usually three flag marshals with each of them holding either a yellow, blue or white flag (the white flag means there is a slow car on the track).

After learning how to do the flags I became an Assistant Secretary of The Meetings which then progressed to a Competitions Secretary which meant I was responsible for taking the race entries before race meetings. I had to book things like the doctors and made sure we had enough marshals, recovery, rescue units, all those sort of logistics.

You have been a Probationary Clerk of the Course since 2012 what are the roles and responsibilities of a Clerk of the Course?


Well the Clerk of a Course, which is the license I am currently going for now (assessment on the 9th May 15) and once I’ve passed that I will have my full licence.

A Clerk of the Course is actually the main person in charge of the race meetings. Whether its club racing or international racing, you would have clerk of the courses working in race control. There can be up to three of them but there will be one that is overall in charge of the circuit which could be me as operations clerk.

That person will be the responsible for when the cars make their way to the grid, starting the race from the starting gantry. If there is an incident on track they will have seconds after looking on the CCTV screens to decide as to whether to call for a red flag or safety car or if major scramble rescue and medical teams are needed.

It is almost like being in a control tower of an airport, where you have to be calm in the event of any crisis or situation. 

You have also been a member of the Women in Motorsport Panel at the MSA for 3 years now In your professional opinion, what needs to be done in order for more women to take up the sport?

Wow, that’s a big question! Errrm…. in terms of encouraging more women to get involved there are a lot of women in motorsport, but maybe not on an international level. There things such as Hill Climbs, Sprinting, Rallying, Rally Cross and obviously Karting and there are a lot of women that do that at moment and compete at club level but getting into the international level for example F1 is very difficult.

I think its a case of raising awareness and to be taken seriously as well.

You are the first Woman of Colour to obtain both a Race and Speed Licence. Can you summarise what getting these licences entailed?

It means breaking the glass ceiling even further so when I first started within Motor Sport in 1988, I think I was the first Black Female Official and there has been a couple of others that have come along since but again, there are not that many of us out there.

The scene within Motorsport is slowly changing and with the success that Lewis Hamilton has had so far, the Lewis Hamilton effect is coming through so you’ll now see more black people sat in the crowd as spectators and you will now see a few more people of colour that are actual mechanics behind the scenes.

So having a Race and Speed Licence means that I’ll be changing the face of Race Control, and there will be more people in charge of those roles.

For me, it means I can then climb up the ladder of a Clerk of the course which hopefully, if I can, obtain my international licence which will lead onto doing things like the Grand Prix with the ultimate goal being an FIA Steward.

Have you ever experienced any form of racism or sexism during your career?

 Within Motorsport, yes. Erm, I think sometimes mutters are going on behind my back and I have noticed that people sometimes tend to give me strange looks. Sometimes I would have to go to places where the environment in heavily male dominated or I could be the only female present.

I also remember one year, quite a few years ago now I used to help out a at Brighton Vintage Car Rally and I had the amazing opportunity to help give out the awards so there I was at the end of the marina on the finish line and as it was cold I had on a fur coat and was all wrapped up warmly whilst handing out the awards.

This lady came up to my partner at the time and said *Carol impersonates a lady speaking the Queen’s English* “What is that person there doing?!?” in a rather sceptical voice and my partner at the time told her I was the Lady Mayoress to keep her quiet and she eventually stomped off but over the years I have gained the respect for what I do.

What advice would you give women who are considering entering a male dominated industry?

Carol Glenn with David Brabham, Son of the Late Sir Jack Brabham and his racing Son Sam Brabham at Brands Hatch

Never to be put off, and to try and have broad shoulders because Men happen to think that we are weaker sex and that we will cave in at any time so its just a matter of showing Men that you can achieve, that you do have the confidence and the ability to do the job just as well if not better than they can do, because sometimes us women we can approach a situation or task in a different manner, and our softer edge can work to our advantage as opposed to being a bull in a china shop for example.

One of the things with Motor Sport is that you have to be calm, and confident and to be able to always rethink things because if there has been an incident and you have to redo a timetable for example you have to make sure you have that structure in your mind to think on your feet and never be complacent and keep on striving for better things as there is really no limits to what we can achieve if we put our minds to it!

Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career so far?

My biggest inspiration? Erm… within Motor Sport or just generally *I confirm Motor Sport*

One of the things I did get to do a long time ago, probably about 15 – 16 years ago now, I was being a Secretary of the Meeting at a particular meeting that happens every October at Brands Hatch called Formula Ford Festival and I remember presenting this award to a very young British Driver whose name was Jenson Button.

I have followed his career throughout his life and its absolutely lovely to see what he has gone through in order to get to the pinnacle where he is now.

The year that Jenson Button won the F1 championship, I was extremely pleased and smile when I think back to know that I played a very small part in his career.

Breaking another barrier within the Motor Sporting World, you are also the first Woman of Colour to own and manage a race team. What are your aspirations for CV Team Motorsport?

Well, my aspirations for CV Team Motor Sport is to try and bring more people of colour into the world of Motor Sport and in fact, I have my first client already.

My first young driver whose name is Miles Nathaniel James and we will be doing some club races this year in Formula 1600 as that is a good level of Motor Sport to get involved in as his ultimate goal is to become the next Lewis Hamilton so I will be trying to get him as high up the ladder as I can.

I will have to try and raise a vast amount of sponsorship as it is very expensive at the top end so that’s what I will be working on but I also want to try and find other young Miles’ and Lewis Hamilton’s and know there must be some out there that are currently doing karting or even those that have never ever tried the sport due to not knowing how to get started.

With my knowledge and expertise I will be able to show them how. You can do Motorsport as hobby not too expensively or make it a career.

You currently look after motor racing driver Miles Nathaniel James, what is it about him that makes you think he is special and has what it takes to succeed within Motor Sport?

I met Miles over a year ago through a mutual friend as he previously was doing karting and genuinely wanted to take it to the next level but didn’t know the steps to take in order to get there so a friend put me in touch with his family so I arranged to get Miles and his Mother down to Silverstone Race Circuit and spent a lot of time talking to drivers and other people that I knew. They were both quite shocked that I knew so much and that I was also well connected within the Motor Sport Industry.

By the end of September 2013, I managed to get him a test drive in Alfa Romeo and he showed potential. This year he went to Buntingthorpe Testing Ground and completed a test in a Formula V car which is like a Formula Ford. He adapted to that car very well and most recently we have done some testing in a Formula Ford 1600 and within three days he was doing some fast lap times to which comments were made that he has got natural ability.

It is very exciting times ahead for CV Team Motor Sport.

Out of all the circuits you have work at, what is your favourite race track and why?

Oh, this is easy, absolutely easy *Dani laughing* there is only one and that is Brand Hatch

*Dani composes herself before asking why*

Image sourced from Brand Hatch website

Brand Hatch is the BEST circuit in the world! Where ever you go, you have a good view of the circuit. It has tight corner, lovely run from start straight down into a dip. But most importantly, although I haven’t actually raced at racing speed I have had the chance to drive around the track many times and its just awesome!

When you come out of the pit lanes, you go straight into Paddock hill bend and then its a deep dip coming out of a very tight bend and then back down.

It is a very fast, very nice circuit and most drivers in the world absolutely love it and I love it as well.

One of my other adventures I would like to do within Motor Sport is to organise more track days, to get people down and have some driving tuition to drive around the track.

Excuse the plug but I am also looking out for a lady driver *dani laughs and confirms she might know a few ladies that will be keen to try out the sport*

Lastly, and to conclude the interview, in your career so far, what has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think it has to be last December. I have most recently got more and more involved with real grass roots level of Motor Racing, one of them being sprinting and joined a small club called Borough 19 and have been doing sprints which are held in North Weald air field and Hethel, the lotus test centre.

Like I said I have been with them a year and they had their awards ceremony in December. So anyway I was invited to the event and sat down at the table looking through the brochure and suddenly saw my name in this brochure awarding me Official Of The Year for 2014.

Nobody told me beforehand, so it caught me completely off guard and I was honestly gob smacked by this decision. To be given a trophy which has names dating back to 1975 and have my name engraved on it as the official of the year for 2014 was just amazing.

Carol Glenn with Martin Donnelly at Borough 19 Awards Ceremony. December 2014

Although I have been active in Motor Sport for over 20 years and have had Thank You’s in the past where I were given flowers and chocolates etc, to actually be awarded with a trophy with your name on it is really special to me.

The icing on the cake though was to have been presented with it by Martin Donnelly who is an ex Formula 1 Driver.

*interview concludes*

On behalf of my readers, I would like to wish you all the best with your future endevours with CV Motor Sport and hopefully by reading this interview, it would encourage more people, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds and indeed women to get involved within the Motor Sporting Industry.

Through Carol’s own career, she is one step at a time changing the face and diversity of the Motor Sport Industry and I would like to personally thank Carol for taking the time out to share her story for This Woman’s Word and my readership.

This interview will also be avaible in audio format via This Woman’s Word Youtube channel over the next coming weeks please god.

If you have been inspired by my interview with Carol and wish to connect, Carol can be found on Linked In and occassionally found tweeting on Twitter.