This week, we came across this t-shirt featuring Shawna Robinson, a retired professional stock car driver. Don't let the pink truck fool you; Robinson was a fierce competitor throughout her racing career, behind the wheel and beyond.
In the world of NASCAR, masculinity is at the pinnacle. However, Shawna Robinson has achieved more success in NASCAR racing than the majority of her male competitors.
Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, she was raised in a racing family. By the age of 4, while most kids were learning how to ride a bicycle, Robinson could ride a motorcycle. She idolized Janet Guthrie. Both of her parents were heavily involved in Midwestern racetracks and auto shows. Her father, Richard Robinson, was a former amateur diesel truck racer. Shawna's mother, Lois, raced cars as well.
After graduating high school, Robinson envisioned her racing future and actualized it. She began racing in semi-tractors before moving to the Great American Truck Racing Series (GATR). In 1984, just a year out of high school, Robinson was named the GATR Rookie of the Year.
In the above clip, Robinson's daring charisma and passion for racing is evident, as she drives a pink big rig truck that reads, "Bye Bye Boys," on the back.
The first time Robinson raced at Daytona International Speedway, she finished in third place. In her sixth race, the AC Delco 100 in Asheville, she became the first woman ever to win a stock car race at age 23.
While being a woman in NASCAR garnered valuable media attention, Robinson was met with relentless sexism among competitors, crew chiefs, and team owners, labeled emotionally unstable after the birth of her children.
Despite the odds, Robinson returned to racing in 1999, driving the No. 8 Kmart Ford Taurus. She is one of only three women to ever compete in the Daytona 500, the premiere event in the racing world.
These days, Danica Patrick has become a pop culture icon as a female NASCAR driver. However, as many women in sports experience, the media frenzy behind Patrick was primarily focused on her appearance. On the other hand, many credit Patrick for inspiring young girls to participate in the sport, as well as increasing attendance and ratings of racing events.
For Robinson, her successes did not correlate to increased popularity. Still, she has cultivated a legacy as one of NASCAR's greatest adversaries. In 2003, she enlisted the first ever all-women pit crew, known as the Aaron's Dream Team.