Where Are They Now? Catching Up With Shawna

Where Are They Now? Catching Up With Shawna
(3-25-10) - Shawna Robinson, the daughter of a race promoter, got her start racing mini-bikes, snowmobiles and motorcycles before she was of legal age to drive a car.

At age 18, Robinson's father taught her to drive 14,000 lb. diesel truck cabs. From that experience Robinson went on to compete in the GATR Truck Series from 1984-1987, winning Rookie-of-the-Year.

Continuing to gain experience, Robinson entered NASCAR in 1988 and earned Rookie-of-the-Year honors in the now-defunct Dash Series. With three wins and 21 top-10s, Robinson took the Most Popular Driver award in 1988 and 1989.

The female driver entered the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) at Orange County Speedway in 1991, driving in the No. 77 Sparky's Famous Hot Dogs Buick. She finished 15th in her first NNS race and ran three more races that year. Robinson also ran a limited schedule in 1992, posting two 11th-place finishes and finishing runner-up to Ricky Craven for the Rookie-of-the-Year award.

In 1993, Robinson teamed up with Mike Laughlin to race 24 races in the No. 35 car. Her best finish was 12th at Indianapolis Raceway Park, and she finished 23rd in points-the highest point-standing finish of her NASCAR career.

Robinson took her first pole position at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1994, becoming the first female driver to qualify for the pole in NNS competition. She continued her year of firsts by posting her first career top-10 at the Fay's 150 at Watkins Glen International. After two top-20 finishes in 1995, Robinson retired to start a family.


robinsondaytona.jpgRobinson couldn't stay away from racing long as she returned to the sport in the ARCA Racing Series in 1999. After the birth of her son and daughter, Robinson was ready to race.

She completed three ARCA races during the 1999 season where success came quickly to the new mother, finishing a career-best second at Daytona. The mark ties her with Erin Crocker as having the highest finishing position for a female driver in ARCA.

In 2000, she set a track record and won the pole at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). She also finished sixth in points in 2000 and became the first female to finish in the top-10 in the points standings in the ARCA series.

Robinson continued to set records, becoming the first woman in ARCA Racing Series history to lead a race when she led several laps at Toledo Speedway.

In 27 career ARCA Racing Series starts, Robinson has five top-5 finishes, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 86 laps.

"There is just a certain level of excitement in the ARCA Racing Series," said Robinson. "I have so many good memories from that period of my racing career. I miss it. I miss driving. My favorite tracks have to be Atlanta or Michigan."

After her experience in ARCA, Robinson ran three races with Michael Waltrip Racing in the NNS in 2001, with her best finish of 18th at Talladega Superspeedway. She also finished 36th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at one of her favorite tracks, MIS.

In 2005, Robinson competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series after a two-year hiatus. robinsonvassarette.jpgShe drove the No. 23 Vassarette Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Keith Coleman Racing.

"If there was any advice I would give drivers today, it would be patience, patience, patience," Robinson said. "Young drivers place so much pressure on a single event, which quadruples the chance that something will happen."

Life After Racing

Even though she is retired from racing, Robinson can't seem to get away from the sport. She has found a new career as an interior designer, redecorating drivers' homes, race shops and motor homes. She continues to travel to events and speaking engagements. 

Robinson also owns Happy Chair, an organization that takes worn and weathered furniture and gives it new life. She creates one-of-a-kind chairs that mix and match fabric to create a unique, funky style. Chairs range from $150 for a simple chair to $2,500 for a sofa.

"All ARCA drivers need to know is this: Do what you love and get in a rhythm," said Robinson. "Driving in the ARCA Racing Series will definitely help you learn."

For more information on Robinson and Happy Chair, visit www.ShawnaRobinson.com.