News & Multimedia

Brickyard Pioneers: Where are They Now? Shawna Robinson

Note: This is the seventh of a series about drivers who competed in the early years of the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard Powered by who no longer compete regularly in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Danica Patrick will likely make a routine return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to drive a stock car for the first time at the legendary Brickyard, and she could be joined by Johanna Long in the Indiana 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday, July 28.

But Patrick and Long won’t be the first for a woman driver.

That honor belongs to Shawna Robinson, a Daytona 500 veteran from Des Moines, Iowa, who qualified at 11:33 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2001 at 171.966 mph, becoming the first woman ever to qualify a stock car at the historic 2 ½-mile oval.

Unfortunately, it was not fast enough to make the field for the eighth annual Brickyard 400.

“Tropicana gave us this chance,” Robinson said at the time. “We’ll focus on a full season next year. To try and compete at this level, it’s hard when you’re not running in anything else. A rookie driver and a rookie car, we did our best to get it done.”

The next year, she made the field at Daytona and drove a limited schedule until taking time off to start a family. She got back in the mix after that, but again was on a limited basis until retiring.

The Brickyard “first” was one of an array of firsts in her career, from ARCA to the Goody’s Dash Series to Busch/Nationwide to Cup. Robinson, now 47, got her start at a young age in the truck racing series spawned by her father, “Lefty,” who was also part of the Iowa group of drivers that included Don White, former Daytona 500 polesitter Ramo Stott and Terry Ryan.

“My dad was my mentor,” Shawna said this week. “There wasn’t a weekend growing up that I wasn’t at a racetrack. I had a chance to drive a sprint car once, but my mom was absolutely against it. We couldn’t get that one past her.

“For me, Indianapolis was all about A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, but I was never big on open-wheel racing. I always had a dream to go to NASCAR, so the Brickyard was a huge thing for me. Any aspect of being at the Brickyard is a notch on my list. But when you go anywhere and don’t qualify, you beat yourself up for it.”

Today, Robinson is in a business she started while still driving and has a studio in Matthews, N.C. There is Shawna Robinson Designs, Shawna Robinson Happy Chair, Shawna Robinson Special Events and, essentially, a complete layout of interior-decorating services.

She has done special custom work for a number of well-known NASCAR people.

“I don’t regret walking away from my (last) team,” she said. “Of course, Danica coming in and so forth, I was a little ahead of my time. In 1999, I came back to racing. I knew I would come back to racing after I had kids, and I did what I wanted to do.

“I’ll go to the races every once in a while. I’d like to be a little more involved. I always thought I’d be involved in on-air broadcasting. It’s real funny. I’ve been on the other side of the camera as a driver. It’d be interesting to be on the opposite side.”

But with racing at the back door of her life, her first at the Brickyard is something that will stand forever.

Super Weekend tickets: Tickets are on sale now for the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard on July 26-29 at IMS.

All ticket orders can be made at and through the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday. For more information, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area.

Children 12 and under will receive free general admission when accompanied by an adult with a Kroger Super Weekend ticket or general admission ticket.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Brickyard Pioneers: Where are They Now? Shawna Robinson
Brickyard Pioneers: Where are They Now? Shawna Robinson
Shawna Robinson, a Daytona 500 veteran from Des Moines, Iowa, who qualified at 11:33 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2001 at 171.966 mph, becoming the first woman ever to qualify a stock car at the historic 2 ½-mile oval.
Read More
Related Media
Kyle Busch
Monday Racing Roundup: Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Sprint Cup Title at Homestead
Finishing off one of the most remarkable comebacks in NASCAR history—indeed, in the annals of sport—Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and, with it, his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Read More
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Monday Racing Roundup: Championship Foursome Set
A serendipitous sequence of pit stops and a drizzle that turned into a downpour made a winner of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday night’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the start of which was delayed from day to night by rain in the afternoon.
Read More
Hulman Terrace Club
New Hulman Terrace Club Offers Premium Seating for IMS Events
The Hulman Terrace Club, located on the outside of the front straightaway of the famed 2.5-mile oval past the exit of Turn 4, will feature more than 1,000 seats plus ADA-accessible seating for fans seeking a club option similar to what is offered at many other major U.S. stadiums. It’s the first new seating option at IMS in more than a decade and a key piece of the ongoing Project 100 initiative. Pre-sale registration is available here with tickets officially going on sale Dec. 1.
Read More
Jimmie Johnson
Monday Racing Roundup: Johnson Completes Texas Sweep
On Sunday, the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion completed a sweep of this year’s Texas Motor Speedway races, powering past hapless Brad Keselowski with three laps left to win the AAA Texas 500 for the fourth straight year.
Read More
Jeff Gordon
Monday Racing Roundup: Gordon Punches Ticket for Chase Finale
Long before Gordon held off Jamie McMurray in a two-lap run to the finish as darkness consumed the .526-mile short track, Kenseth ended polesitter Joey Logano’s remarkable run in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by pile-driving Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford, which was leading the race at the time, into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 454 of 500.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 664
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at
Latest Tweets
Need help Christmas shopping? Come to the IMS end of season sale on Dec. 5 from 9am-4pm in Pagoda Plaza for up to 80% off 2015 merchandise.
about 6 hours ago