35 year-old small business owner Leslie Porterfield of Dallas works at her retail store selling merchandise, checking prices, stocking shelves and helping customers. Normalcy with a hint of mundane however is not part of this female business owner’s life. Her retail business is High Five Cycles of Dallas where she sells used motorcycle. Her other business is breaking speed records while in the seat of these two-wheeled machines.
When I was younger, “I wasn’t pushed to do girly things I was more of a tomboy,” Porterfield said. “My mother is a very independent hard working woman so I didn’t come from a background where women couldn’t do certain things – I was treated equally to my brother.” Later when she was 16 years-old, “I decided to buy a motorcycle for transportation purposes and paid $200 dollars. My parents thought I was crazy but were very supportive.”
At 19 a friend of Leslie’s suggested she get a racing license. “He said that he thought I would enjoy the track – he was right.” Since then, Porterfield has not only pushed herself on the track and past her limits, she has broken world records while doing it. Although it took a few years of heartache and literal pain for her to achieve those goals, she never gave up or lost sight of them. Porterfield’s first trial happened in 2007 when she ended up with broken ribs and a punctured lung, (this was her first attempt towards achieving her dream).
“After my wreck in 2007 I was afraid that people would not welcome me (into racing or Bonneville) anymore,” she said. “But as soon as I got home from the hospital there were tons of cards waiting for me from my ‘salts’ and racing community family. Being injured was a set-back but I learned from it, healed, and kept moving on to achieve my ultimate goals of going fast and setting records.”
Then in 2008, Porterfield broke the Production (stock bike with limited modifications) record and achieved 232mph. “I have set records ever since,” she beamed. In 2010 the rider faced another tribulation, “I broke the class record which was later disqualified because I had taken off a license plate bracket from the bike,” Porterfield said. The rules are steep when it comes to the Bonneville Salt Flats and at times daunting, but this competitive lady takes it all in stride. “Every now and then I screw up, but I always learn something new,” she said. Although, “Disqualifications happen all the time, everybody sure heard about mine. But now that there are more women out there getting records I am hoping that will take the limelight off me,” she laughed.
In 2011 there were officially over a dozen females registered at Bonneville for the BUB speed trials which is a (cycle only) land speed event. Porterfield took part in the Production 1000cc class which allows limited modifications causing it to be extremely hard to achieve high velocity. Modifications such as turbo chargers are not allowed so she had to ensure her bike was fit for peak performance. For 2011, “I had been working on the bike and myself to aim for the goal of achieving 200 mph on my Honda CBR 1000 which is a production show room bike,” Porterfield said. Last year at Bonneville she achieved that goal by reaching 200.137 mph and gaining another world record.
This Sunday on Discovery’s Velocity Channel Porterfield will be featured in a new program aptly named Chasing Speed. The show follows the competitor as she, “Prepared for the 2011 speed record testing at Bonneville and they also chronicle my attempts at getting the record. My crazy pit crew is on the show and together we all find out how much goes into getting a world record. It’s amazing and quite a steep learning curve that takes a lot of effort and work. I am very fortunate to have a great crew and the camaraderie of my Bonneville family.”
Chasing Speed airs on Sunday, April 1 @ 10:00 pm (ET) / 9:00 pm (CT)
Set your DVR and support Dallas’ own Leslie Porterfield
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