Journalism professor Dan Birman and USC Annenberg alumna Megan Chao (M.A. Broadcast Journalism, '08) have completed Chasing Speed: Leslie Porterfield for Discovery’s newest network, Velocity.
Birman produced, directed, and wrote the one-hour special, and Chao produced and edited the program. The special follows a woman who has broken many barriers – as a woman and as someone who races motorcycles.
In 2011, Leslie Porterfield headed to the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to challenge her own standing record as the fastest woman in the world on a motorcycle. This annual trek involves an intense process that takes months of design, testing, and training to accomplish.
Chasing Speed premieres on Velocity on Sunday April 1 at 10 p.m. (check local listings.) The show begins at Bonneville and follows Porterfield to her home base in Dallas, Texas, where she owns High Five Cycles, the largest used motorcycle dealership in town.There, the viewers meet some of her shop crew who support her habit for chasing speed.
The show then heads to Wichita State University, where Porterfield and her race partner, Al Lamb, take her bikes for testing. They use an aviation wind tunnel to evaluate aerodynamics at wind speeds in excess of 300 mph. Later, Porterfield takes her bikes to a municipal airport in Athens, Texas, where she opens up the throttles on a runway and tests for actual speed.
Porterfield’s bid to set a new land speed record on a motorcycle fills the second half of the show as viewers watch her go through the race process at Bonneville. The record she’s focused on setting is 200 mph on a 1,000 cc production motorcycle.