Bill Poehler Author Talk

Join us for a presentation from longtime Statesman Journal reporter Bill Poehler on his new book, The First Lady of Dirt, about auto racing pioneer Cheryl Glass. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. This is a free event with seating available on a first-come, first-seated basis. This event is supported by the Salem Public Library Foundation.

Early in her career, Cheryl Glass looked like a lock to become the first Black woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. From racing quarter midget cars at ten years old to Indy Lights in her twenties, Cheryl was on her way towards a winning career in auto racing.

In The First Lady of Dirt: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Racing Pioneer Cheryl Glass, Bill Poehler tells Cheryl’s full story for the first time. He recounts how Cheryl rapidly became the first successful Black woman in the sport, yet frequently encountered racist and sexist taunts from other drivers and fans throughout her career. While appearing to have it all—talent, ambition, looks—she faced many challenges on and off the track and her life soon spun out of control.

Featuring exclusive interviews with Cheryl’s mother, friends, and competitors, The First Lady of Dirt takes you behind the scenes and in the driver’s seat of Cheryl’s life. Poehler, an amateur racer himself, places the reader at the track, smelling the dirt and fumes, hearing the roaring engines and crashing metal, and feeling Cheryl’s joy and pain. It’s the inspiring story of a racing pioneer and a tragic tale of the pressures that are often hidden from public view until it’s too late.

For more information, contact Salem Public Library at or 503-588-6315.