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
Scott Dixon
 
Pruett's Preview: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
With two rounds complete and 14 left to run, drawing any significant conclusions on how certain drivers will fare in their quest for the Astor Cup would be premature, but it's hard to ignore some of the notable trends leading into this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach.
Read More
Pippa Mann
 
Mann Teams Up With Susan G. Komen for Indy 500
Veteran Verizon IndyCar Series Driver Pippa Mann will again race in the Indianapolis 500 with Dale Coyne Racing. For the second consecutive year, she will be driving in her familiar pink gear as she races in support of Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, and its mission to end breast cancer forever.
Read More
James Hinchcliffe and Vic Vegas
 
INDYCAR Drivers and Indy's Top Chefs Unite For Charity
Representatives from Rev, a Methodist Health Foundation charity event presented by Fifth Third Bank, have released the complete list of chef and Verizon IndyCar driver pairings for the May 2 food event, which will be hosted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Oriol Servia
 
Servia Joins RLL Racing for Indianapolis 500
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Oriol Servia will return to the team for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.
Read More
Darren Manning
 
'Rookie' Veterans Join Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) announced four first-time entries in its second annual “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am race, the feature event of its June 11-14 Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Familiar to Indianapolis 500 fans but new to the SVRA’s Pro-Am are Richie Hearn, Stephan Gregoire, Davy Jones and Darren Manning. All have filed entries to a field that has grown to sixteen. The SVRA expects 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans to start.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,851
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 lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
Who is going to be at @Blu_Indy tonight from 10-12 for the #Indy500SnakePit by @MillerLite tour??
about 14 hours ago