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 BigMachineRecords.com 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 www.imstix.com 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
Starters Ring
 
101st Indianapolis 500 Field Starts Final Countdown to Race Day at Drivers' Meeting
Drivers participating in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil received final instructions and awards Saturday in the public drivers’ meeting, the final race activity at the track before “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Read More
Michael Andretti
 
Thirst for Victory Never Quenched for Owners Penske, Ganassi, Andretti at Indianapolis
Roger Penske sounds as intense as ever. Chip Ganassi welcomes every opportunity to defeat him. And Michael Andretti continues to triumph as an owner in the race that dogged him as a driver. The powerhouse trio of owners in the Verizon IndyCar Series have a combined 15 of the 33 cars entered in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday. Their cars have claimed 25 Indy 500 victories in their careers, including eight with drivers in this field.
Read More
A.J. Foyt
 
Invigorated Foyt Recalls Humble Indy Beginnings before Becoming Legend of Speedway
He arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as an unknown, a big, burly dude with a Texan accent, just looking to gain access to Gasoline Alley. Nobody knew Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. in 1958. So they didn’t let him in. That’s how the legend of A.J. Foyt began.
Read More
Lyn St. James
 
St. James' Incredible Racing Journey Reached Indy 25 Years Ago
Lyn St. James still senses the feel of a race car that responds like no other and the respect for everything it takes to make it go fast. Twenty-five years have passed since she raced an Indy car for the first time, but her memories of that experience have never faded, especially the 11th-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 that earned her the 1992 Rookie of the Year award.
Read More
Alexander Rossi
 
Rookie Winners To Be Saluted on Legends Day presented by Firestone
The Indianapolis 500 has been run 100 times, and no motor race in the world has required more daring, endurance and skill to win. Only 10 drivers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” have proven to be talented enough, fierce enough and lucky enough to win the race on their first attempt.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 2,625
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 IMS Sales Department at (317) 492-8739 or email at hospitalitysales@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day: https://t.co/yKQ6Db3YRK
May 21