Vehicle Aerodynamics Consulting and Seminars


"I wished I had Paul as a teacher when I attended Art Center."
- Ken Okuyama, designer of the Ferarri Enzo and past Transportation Chair of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Thanks and Credits

Long Beach, CA..................................................................................... December 8, 2005

Aerospace Engineer Has Life - Long Need For Speed
- Sandy Robins

As a year ends and a new one approaches, it's time to start thinking about personal goals and realistic resolutions. For aerodynamicist Paul Glessner, every year brings him closer to a goal he's had since childhood, namely setting a world land speed record of 800 mph. This kind of speed is difficult for the average motorist to comprehend. In layman's terms, it's probably best described by saying if you blink, you'll miss it.

Glessner, in a deep, rather sexy voice that would be perfect for a Hollywood voiceover man, describes himself as tenacious and gregarious - two perfect adjectives for getting the word out and this job done. Although a Long Beach native, he is currently the chief aerodynamicist at XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, and mobility is his total mania. If it has wheels or wings that interact with airflow, he has all the answers ensuring that both cars and flying machines go faster and better. In layman's terms again, he's a speed freak.

On the subject of his magnificent obsession, he has pretty much done it all. With a pilot's license at the age of 16, he's flown the Goodyear Blimp, been in the jump seat on the now demised Concord and stalled a Boeing 717 mid-air during a test flight - something most pilots only ever get to do in a flight simulator. He even has tickets to ride into sub-orbital space. In an era where space tourism is about to become a reality and a ground speed of 800 mph is around the next bend in the road of world records, it's hard to believe that little more than a hundred years
ago, car enthusiasts were raving about the amazing feat of Frenchman Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubert, who set the first land speed record by driving at 39.24 mph.

Glessner knew he had his career mapped out when at the age of 6; he met his racing car hero Mark Donohue. Donohue became his mentor and his friend until his untimely death during a practice run at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix. Glessner went on to study aerodynamics and later teamed up with Donohue's racing associate, Roger Penske, who subsequently raced cars in the 1983 Indy 500 with a wing design initiated by Glessner.

At this point in time, Glessner admits that there is no vehicle being prepared to take on the land speed record at famous Black Rock in Nevada, the site of previous attempts to date. "I'm busy designing components for the rocket engine design," he says. However, he does confess that in his field of expertise, computers are his best friends, as they understand all about computational fluidal dynamics, continuity equations, pitching moments, side winds,
sideslips and flow entrainments.

Fortunately for car enthusiasts or anyone interested in vehicle aerodynamics, Glessner spells it all out in very comprehensive seminars. At the end of the day, everything you ever wanted to know about wind tunnel testing all blows into place. Glessner says he plans his seminars according to his audiences, which range from high school students to members of the esteemed Society of Automotive Engineers. Even TV talk show host and car enthusiastic Jay Leno has sent his mechanic along to learn from the master about how to make cars go faster and keep them safer.

When he's not at work or working on his land speed super car, Glessner likes movies. Action adventure stuff of course and he has even helped out in Hollywood with special affects. "Kids today don't realize how lucky they are with all the wonderful video games at their fingertips," Glessner says. "Growing up, I considered myself lucky if I got to see a car race on TV as many as five times in a year." Does he enjoy these games with their wonderful computer graphics? In a word, "No," says Glessner. But then, he gets to play with the real thing. To find out more, visit

August 20, 2009

All contents on this site are Copyright © 2009 Vehicle Aerodynamics Consultants, Inc.