Everything slows down for Vaughn Glace when he’s going faster than anyone. All he hears is the engine. He tunes out the rest of the world as he prepares to navigate turns.
“You don’t even think when you’re in the car,” Glace said. “It’s all feel because when you start thinking, it’s too slow.”
Glace, a 19-year-old who lives on Marlin Drive, has established himself as one of the most accomplished young racers in the sport. He started go-kart racing when he was 6 years old. He did it off and on until he was 14. That’s when he went full throttle. Glace made the shift to cars from karts, which are the training ground for the type of racing he ultimately wants to do.
Five years later, Glace is the winner of the Formula X race that was part of the 2021 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship Runoffs, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. He also won the SCCA National Championship, which includes other luminaries like Carroll Shelby as past winners.
Vaughn’s dad, Scott Glace, is a car collector, which rubbed off on Vaughn.
“Our family is way into car culture,” said Scott. “We have way too many cars.”
Scott volunteered for many years with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, a street race through Schenley Park, which raises money for autism charities. When Vaughn was 11, Scott brought him along. The Autism Society’s Dan Torisky, who chaired the event, took a liking to Vaughn and put him to work managing the golf carts that transport VIPs around the course.
The Grand Prix is affiliated with PittRace, a racing complex in Beaver County, which has a go-kart track.
“Vaughn got into a go-kart and we couldn’t get him out of it,” Scott said. The Glaces went from renting a kart to buying one and then the race was on. Vaughn graduated from go-karts to cars and, as it turns out, raced in last year’s Vintage Grand Prix, with a pretty good outcome: He set the course record.
Scott said that his son has an intuition of how to drive as a result of being immersed in physics when he was in school. He described the experience of watching his son race.
“The weekend in Indianapolis, when you’re in the stands at one of the greatest and fastest racetracks in the country and your son is out there … it was frightening,” Scott said. “And it was a rollercoaster of emotion. It was exciting that he was winning and scary that he was winning.”
Watching Vaughn set the Grand Prix record was equal parts pride and fear for Scott.
“He’s a 19 year old who is extremely confident in his abilities,” Scott said. “That was the most anxiety I felt during his racing career.”
Vaughn has taken all the lessons he’s had at the wheel and used them to instruct children at the Three Rivers Karting Kids Camp, which is based at the venue where he developed his skills. Daryl Charlier, who owns the business, said Glace explains techniques well and inspires the children through his enthusiasm.
“He is easy to get along with and easy to approach,” Charlier said. “Most kids his age aren’t that way nowadays. That’s what stands out about him.”
Glace’s pre-race routine includes clearing his head with music. His ultimate racing goal is to get to Le Mans, the famous race depicted in 2019’s Ford v. Ferrari.
“It would just make me want to push further and continue working and trying,” Glace said. “For me, it’s my ultimate singular goal. But I think if I get there I’d want to do more.”