Vanessa “Rockstar” Robinson to Tear Up Tracks in Western U.S. at NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

In 2019, NASCAR racing fans in the Western U.S. are set to discover what motorsports aficionados in West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona have known for years — Vanessa “Rockstar” Robinson is set to break big as part of the K&N Pro Series West. At the age of 28, Robinson has already achieved a distinguished track record of wins and achievements behind the wheel of her Super Late Model Ford Fusion. As a Latina, a woman and a person with Dyslexia, she is a role model known for breaking barriers and extending diversity in the racing community.

Robinson, in an interview with Tu Revista Latina Magazine, stated, “I was never brought up to think that I was a girl. I mean I knew I was a girl, but I didn’t feel like I had any limitations just because I was a girl. Behind the wheel of my car racing is where I belong. It’s just what I love to do.” The girl who would later be known by the nickname “Rockstar” comes by her racetrack bonafides by her machinist and race engine builder father Martin Robinson and her mother Luz Ibarra Robinson, the first female Street Stock champion at Southern New Mexico Speedway.

As a child, Vanessa was diagnosed with Dyslexia, “a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.” (MayoClinic.org) Although this condition caused challenges for Robinson, she doubled-down to work with her mother so that she could achieve in life both on and off the track. In turn, she has made Dyslexia awareness and support a way to give back and inspire other youth to follow her example that challenges need not be insurmountable obstacles.

In 2009, at the age of 18, Robinson started racking up wins scoring a championship title in Street Stock racing at Southern New Mexico Speedway close to her home in Lax Cruces, NM. In 2011, lightning struck twice when this rockstar one Rookie of the Year in the Dirt Limited Late Model Division at Southern NM Speedway, as well as Rookie of the Year and the first female to win in the Asphalt Modified at Sandia Speedway.

2015 was a huge year for Robinson with impressive wins and honors. She scored the most wins at Tucson Speedway, where she was also named Rookie of the Year in the Super Late Model category and was the first woman to win a major event. She also received Rookie of the Year designation at Arizona State and at NASCAR Whelen All American Series. She also tore up the speedway at the inaugural NASCAR Mexico North American Championship.

In 2016, Vanessa Robinson became the first Hispanic woman to join the NASCAR K&N Pro West circuit. She was voted Most Popular Driver for Racing 2 Cure, a non-profit dedicated to fighting cancer in conjunction with motorsports events. That year she was also honored as part of Hispanic Heritage Month by NM Congressman Steve Pearce. 2016 and 2017 found Robinson once again participating in the NASCAR North American Championship in the Super Late Model division.

The 66th season of the K&N Pro Series West kicks off on February 28th with an “old school feel: racing stock cars on dirt” with the Star Nursery 100 on Thursday, February 28th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. According to a recent NASCAR press release, “‘This is one of the most dynamic and diverse schedules we’ve had, and it’s going to be a lot of fun for fans of the series to watch their favorite drivers compete at a variety of venues,’ said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR managing director of regional racing. ‘You have a tremendous mix of a dirt track, road course, historic bullrings and speedways that is sure to produce an exciting season.”

Vanessa Robinson hopes to participate in as many of the thirteen K&N Pro Series West 2019 races as possible. Luz Robinson, Vanessa Robinson Racing Team Owner, states, “The expense of chasing my daughter’s dream to be a racing champion is enormous. We are hoping companies see the impact of sponsoring a driver that will resonate with women and Latinos. As with Vanessa’s Dyslexia, we don’t shy away from the challenge; we just aim for the finish line and step on the gas.” To that end, VRR has engaged Eric Moore of BuzzEngine to help deepen her sponsor portfolio. Corporations and businesses interested in underwriting Robinson’s 2019 races can contact Moore at emoore@buzz-engine.com.

Dyslexia is my Superpower was a powerful conference for parents and students

The Parent and Student Conference, hosted by The May Center for Learning and sponsored by SWIDA on October 6, was a success in so many ways:
  • Eight adult mentors with dyslexia spoke to an audience of over 100 (which met venue capacity at The Site in Santa Fe) about growing up dyslexic with all its challenges and gifts.   Then,  each mentor spent the afternoon with a groups of students on a variety of highly interactive projects.
  • The Dyslexia Justice League‘s 1st comic was launched and sold;
  • Parents experienced four dyslexia Simulation stations/situations that always proves to be valuable no matter how many times they’re experienced;
  • Erin Brown, SWIDA Board Member, presented Dyslexia 101, a powerpoint and talk on the basics of dyslexia;
  • This was followed by a highly informative panel of experts on dealing with schools in a positive and effective manner, chaired by SWIDA Board Member and May Center teacher, Amy Stanton.

BELOW ARE THE STORIES OF THE 8 MENTORS

Meet Mentor Rebecca Avitia who shared her story about being diagnosed in 3rd grade, and then “taking off” with reading in 8th grade.  She was always told by her mother, who also is dyslexic, that she was a “different kind of smart.”  Now Rebecca prefers “just smart.”

Rebecca L. Avitia is the Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and oversees the Center’s visual arts, performing arts, and history and literary arts programs. Before joining the NHCC, Rebecca was a Shareholder at the law firm Montgomery & Andrews, an Assistant District Attorney in Valencia County, and a Litigation Associate at the New York City office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld. Rebecca received her bachelors in Sociology from Trinity University in San Antonio and her law degree from Columbia Law School in New York City. During law school, Rebecca also externed with then-Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Since returning to New Mexico in 2008, Rebecca has served as President of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, been a member and leader in many professional and philanthropic associations, including serving as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the non-profit incubator and micro-lender WESST, and as a member of the leadership council for the Hispano Philanthropic Society within the United Way of Central New Mexico. She has been recognized with an AV® Preeminent Peer-Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, as well as a “Top CEO” and “40 Under Forty Honoree” by the Albuquerque Business First, a Southwest Rising Star in Business Litigation by Super Lawyers, and as the Outstanding Young Alumna by Trinity University. Rebecca is a native New Mexican of Puerto Rican descent, and the proud mother of three young children.

“I am here on this planet to create safe spaces for greater community creativity and healing.”

— Ross Chaney

Ross Chaney grew up on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma with his Cherokee Grandma. He eventually went to college to study political science and Japanese. At a very young age, he decided that his future would involve being a local leader that was trained internationally. He draws inspiration from the philosophical and aesthetic influence of his years, studying in Japan where he went to graduate school. He left Japan and went to work for Lucent Technologies – Bell Labs. From there he moved to Santa Fe, NM to pursue various leadership roles in Tribal governments, nonprofits, public policy, art organizations and local, state, and city government.

Ross credited his mother for all her support, especially in teaching him patience. 

James Dernocoeur is a Physician’s Assistant working in the Emergency Department at Presbyterian Health Care in Albuquerque.  He has served as Clinical Faculty at Grand Valley State University and he is Chairman of the Grand Valley University Physician Assistant Advisory Board.  He has served as a paramedic in various cities and he traveled to over 26 countries as an Emergency Medical Systems consultant.

 James told the student he’s grateful that he’s a “creative problem solver”, and while it took years to get help with his dyslexia, he finally got help from an “old biddy.”   [Which we assume means a teacher who knew how to teach the structure of the language.]

Daisy Guranichwas named New Mexico Montessori Teacher of the Year in 2017.  She was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico and she has two daughters.  She is a Montessori trainer with the Montessori Training Center in Albuquerque, and she is the Lead Early Childhood teacher at May Center for Learning, specializing in working with young children with developmental and speech delays. Daisy is passionate about following the individual child’s needs in her teaching.

Daisy told the students to be patient, and to hold themselves accountable for learning.  Her husband said he finally “got it” when he went through the Simulations on October 6.  

Jason Harvey was born in Colorado, the oldest of 3 boys. His family moved to New Mexico when he was a baby. Jason served a two-year mission for his church, worked two seasons as a whitewater river guide, was an auto parts manager, and an armored car vault manager. Jason started his career as an Albuquerque police officer in July 2000. He was an open space search and rescue officer with APD for 12 of his 19 years on the force. During this time, he was on the APD dive team and did many body recoveries.  He also volunteered with NM Task Force One K-9 FEMA unit as a boat team manager, search team manager, and K-9 handler.  He enjoyed that time of helping others and saving peoples’ lives with his dog Jessie P, a third-generation search and rescue K-9.  Jason recently retired from APD. He now owns a business that sells off-road gear like shovels, rescue ropes, and mounting systems for jeeps. He started his business out of the garage and now sells through Instagram and his website all over the world.  Jason was married in 2002, and he has three children He loves driving his tricked-out jeep, hiking, and being in the outdoors.

Jason said “everything was hard in school.”  He realized why as he watched his daughter struggle as he had.  His advice to students is to “find your strengths.”

Born and raised in New Jersey, Marjorie Hanus earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts and Masters in Teaching from William Paterson University. Soon after she finished her Masters Degree, Marjorie was drawn to teaching at a school specializing in autism and learning differences because of her own struggle with dyslexia. She moved to Santa Fe in 2007 and taught at a private school for several years before taking some time off to stay home with her children. Marjorie is excited to have the opportunity to work at May Center where she can help children reach their full potential. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and learning about natural health and remedies.

Art allowed Marjorie to express herself; suddenly there were no barriers. 

Vanessa “Rockstar” Robinsonis a Rookie NASCAR Driver participating for the 3rd year in the NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES.  At the age of thirteen, Vanessa made her racing debut at the Southern New Mexico Speedway in her hometown Las Cruces, New Mexico.  In 2009, Vanessa won the Championship Dirt Street Stock Race as the Youngest Female Driver in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  In 2012, She was the First Female to join the Lucas Oil Modified Series.

2015 was one of Vanessa’s most successful years. Not only was she named Rookie of the Year in Super Late Model at the Tucson Speedway, but also for the entire state of Arizona as well as in NASCAR Whelen All American Series. She was also the first female driver to win a major event at the Tucson Speedway and was that year’s driver with the most wins. Vanessa was also invited to participate in NASCAR ‘Drive for Diversity’ Combine where she and her team finished 2nd in the Super Late Model Category.  One of Vanessa’s most notable events of the year, however, was winning the Championship at NASCAR’s Inaugural North American and being named the First Female Hispanic NASCAR Driver in the K&N Pro Series.  In 2016, Vanessa “Rockstar” Robinson was honored by Congressman Pearce at the New Mexico Hispanic Heritage Month Conference.  Vanessa’s dream is to move on to the National Cup Series.

Her notable recognitions in a male-dominated sport are not the only thing that make Vanessa stand out.  She also has dyslexia.  Vanessa’s ‘Determined Will’ has enabled her to rise above the challenges she has faced.  Not only is Vanessa “Rockstar” Robinson breaking barriers at the track but she’s also doing it in life.

Vanessa talked about being bullied, her talent in working with numbers, and in problem solving.  

Neal Piltch is the Head of School at Albuquerque’s Manzano Day School, and has spent 41 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Mr. Piltch was educated at Hobart College and Oxford University. He is the fifth of nine children, and is also one of four family members who have served as Heads of Schools throughout the U.S. His tenure at Manzano Day School began in 2001, and during that time the school has undertaken multiple Capital Campaigns which have provided, and continues to provide, new facilities and an enhanced endowment. As a true sports enthusiast, Mr. Piltch was an inaugural member of the South Florida Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and is an avid golfer. He has been married to Rhonda Loos for 29 years, and feels that the most rewarding part of his job as Head of School is, “making a difference in children’s lives.”

Neal stressed the importance of parents being advocates for their children.  He suffered in school because of dysgraphia, and was relieved when finally diagnosed because then he knew he wasn’t “stupid.”  

STORY LINK: https://sw.dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-is-my-superpower-was-a-powerful-conference-for-parents-and-students/

Conference to focus on strengths of those with dyslexia

When he was 3, Jack Dunn asked his mother to write a script for him and his family to perform.

Now 10, the young actor is performing in Pandemonium Productions’ staging of Newsies: The Musical. He’s also active with the Society of Explorers at his private school in Santa Fe, the May Center for Learning. The small group studies 18th-century British explorer James Cook.

Dunn enjoys learning about history. He also likes to draw. Maybe he’ll grow up to be a Lego engineer, said Dunn, who is among an estimated 15 percent to 20 percent of the population that struggles with some symptoms of dyslexia: slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling and writing skills, and a tendency to mix up similar words.

His school, which serves students diagnosed with the learning disorder, is joining the Southwest branch of the International Dyslexia Association in presenting a weekend conference for parents and students on the sometimes hidden strengths of those who grapple with dyslexia. The conference, Dyslexia is My Superpower, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at SITE Santa Fe.

The event will include talks on how parents can advocate for dyslexic children and how dyslexia plays out in the classroom, and it will include interviews between students and adults who deal with dyslexia.

Among those speaking at the event will be Vanessa Robinson of Las Cruces, a NASCAR driver.

“I was driving before I had a license,” Robinson, 28, said in an interview.

She sees dyslexia as a gift: “You have issues with reading and spelling, but you also have this ability to achieve in other areas. … I believe it gave me the strength to concentrate on racing and achieve the goals I am achieving now.”

Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that affects parts of the brain that process language. Experts say people with dyslexia often perceive the world in sharper visual focus, display more curiosity and have higher IQs than those without the condition.

“The dyslexic brain pattern often comes with real strength,” said Amy Miller, founder and director of the May Center. Saturday’s conference, she said, “will focus on everything that is right with dyslexia and not on the things that are not working, which is what they often focus on in school. Oftentimes, having dyslexia contributes to people finding out what they are good at.”

Students from the May Center will unveil a comic book they made called Dyslexia is My Super Power.

People with dyslexia might misread the word “soccer” as “scocer” and rely on a computer program to read a news story aloud to them. But they might also posses a talent for making 3D movies, building a house or driving a car at 200 mph around a NASCAR racetrack, like Robinson.

Robinson said her father, Martin Robinson, also is dyslexic. Research has found the disorder is linked to several genes and that the tendency to develop the disorder can be passed from parent to child.

Educators in Robinson’s public prekindergarten classroom diagnosed her with dyslexia at an early age, she said. Often, the disorder isn’t detected until children are much older and struggling to develop reading skills.

Still, Robinson said, the condition posed challenges for her in school.

“There were extra teachers who gave me extra notes to help me,” she said, “but I got bullied because — how do I say this — I was never asked to read out loud or go to the front of the class to read to everyone else.”

She didn’t speak publicly about what she was going through, but she also did not feel ashamed, Robinson said. She knew she had to find a channel for her talent, which seemed to be driving.

When she was 13, her father, who built race car engines, and her mother, Luz, who also raced, put her behind the wheel of a stock car and set her loose on a dirt track. According to her website, www.vanessarobinsonracing.com, she pulled out a win at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces against veteran drivers.

“Her competitive nature, unwavering determination and absolute belief in her own talent is making a name for Robinson (and women) in NASCAR’s racing world,” her profile says.

Robinson visited the May Center for Learning last month, when a student interviewed her about her experiences with dyslexia as part of the upcoming conference.

“He asked me about racing and told me he was good at comics and he is great at art,” she said. “That’s where his talent or focus is. He asked me how it was growing up in schools with dyslexia, and I told him about being bullied.”

While she wants to help others with dyslexia, Robinson said she doesn’t see herself as a role model for children struggling with the learning disorder.

“If me talking about my own experiences to students or kids helps them out, I’m happy,” she said.

STORY LINK: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/content/tncms/live/

Vanessa Robinson: Breaking Down Barriers on Her Race to the Top

By Gloria Vaquera

When Vanessa Robinson started down a career path in a male-dominated sport, being a female didn’t seem to be an issue—at least not to her. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for her to demonstrate her potential and has proven that she is worthy of respect not based on her gender, but rather on her talent and ability to outmaneuver even her male counterparts on the track.

“I was never brought up to think that I was a girl. I mean I knew I was a girl, but I didn’t feel like I had any limitations just because I was a girl. Behind the wheel of my car racing is where I belong. It’s just what I love to do,” explained Vanessa.

Vanessa isn’t the only one in her family that’s into racing. When Vanessa’s parents, Luz Ibarra and Martin Robinson, married in 1988, Martin was already in the business of racing. In fact, he’s been a driver, a machinist and race engine builder for the past 35 years. In 1993 Luz raced for the first time in an all-lady’s race in a car rigged with 2x4s on the gas peddles, and pillows on the seats so that she could reach. The following year, Martin built Luz her very own custom-fitted car and she went on to become the first woman to win the Street Stock Championship, at SNM Speedway.

Sisters, Valerie and Vanessa, were essentially born into a life at the track, but it was Vanessa who channeled her inner race car driver early on following in her father’s footsteps. “My dad deserves all the credit for everything I know about racing, for building my cars and for keeping me honest. He is the only one in our family who has not won a championship and it’s not because he isn’t capable. He is a very talented driver, but helping others has always been more important,” praises Vanessa. She tells me that on one occasion Martin was running against a friend that needed a car part and Martin willingly gave it to him. It ultimately cost him the race and his friend went on to win the championship.

Martin built Vanessa’s first full-size racing car when she was only 9 years old. However, Luz didn’t allow her to actually drive it because she was too small to reach the gas pedals and see over the dash. Her concern was that she could hurt herself or other drivers because of her lack of experience. Vanessa eventually grew into her car and has now been racing for fourteen years, making her only 13 years old when she started on a dirt track at the Southern New Mexico Speedway.

Once she made her way around the track comfortably at the SNM Speedway, which didn’t take very long, they took her out to a bigger track in El Paso. By year two, her talent was becoming more apparent and she was running both tracks on a regular basis to get familiar with the car and the tracks. In 2009, she was ready and her team set a goal to win the championship. Training to win consisted of racing at the Speedway in Las Cruces on Friday nights, working all night on the car if she wrecked it, and racing on Saturday in El Paso. The work paid off; that year she won her first Street Stock Championship.

After winning numerous races against both men and women, Vanessa transitioned to running modifieds on asphalt at the Sandia Speedway in Albuquerque in 2011. She admits that although this was not a NASCAR sanctioned class she needed it for the experience. After racing this class for a year, she and her team finished 2nd in points and received the title of Rookie of the Year. More significantly, Vanessa was the first female driver to win a main event in Asphalt Modified at the Sandia Speedway. That same year, she was also named Rookie of the Year in the Dirt Limited Late Model class at SNM Speedway.

With her eyes set on bigger tracks, Vanessa was quickly outgrowing what Las Cruces and El Paso had to offer. In 2012, she became the first woman to join Lucas Oil Modified Series, a touring series, and the following year she became the first female driver to start pole at the Blythe Speedway in California in that same class. This was a big deal because pole is the most favorable position at the start of a motor race because it means the qualified driver will start from the first position in that race.

Hardships, however, are an unavoidable fact of life and this was no exception for team Robinson. After suffering a back injury from a serious crash on the track, Vanessa underwent surgery. Although her surgery was successful, she was unfortunately out for an entire season. As luck would have it, after the rehabilitation treatments were over and she was cleared to get back into her car, all their vehicles were stolen from the parking lot of the hotel in California. “They took everything except our luggage which was with us in the room,” remembers Luz. “They took the truck and the trailer with Vanessa’s car inside and spare motors. But I really think that God had a different plan for us because we were on a path and all of the things that happened in 2014 redirected our plans,” said Luz.

2015 was the first full season back and it turned out to be one of Vanessa’s most successful. Not only was she named Rookie of the Year in Super Late Model at the Tucson Speedway but also for the entire state of Arizona as well as in NASCAR Whelen All American Series. She was also the first female driver to win a major event at the Tucson Speedway and was that year’s driver with the most wins. One of Vanessa’s most notable events of the year, however, was winning the Championship at NASCAR’s Inaugural North American where she proudly represented Mexico and being named the First Female Hispanic NASCAR Driver in the K&N Pro Series.

She placed 6th in points in the NASCAR Pro Truck and 5th in points in Super Late Model at the Tucson Speedway in 2016. Then, this year, Vanessa once again won the Championship in the NASCAR North American in Super Late Model. She was also selected as a driver for Jefferson Pitt’s Racing in NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

Even while competing against men, sometimes twice her age that believe “she’s just a girl,” Vanessa has an impressive resume. And as her rank in NASCAR has improved, so have her talents. Although she has to be approved by NASCAR to move up, the plan next is to break into the Camping World Truck Series in 2018, one more step on her race to the top.

Ask Vanessa Robinson what sets her apart and she’ll say, “I’m not like most girls and I definitely don’t spinout like a girl. I’m just another driver.”

Summer 2017

http://turevistalatina.com/lifestyle-articles/43-sports/482-vanessa-robinson-breaking-down-barriers-on-her-race-to-the-top

Robinson named Speedway’s top rookie

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) – Tucson Speedway is buzzing with energy and excitement in the midst of their racing season.

After winning the Desert Thunder race at Tucson Speedway on August 1st and another main event race, Vanessa Robinson, 25, and race car #14, has been chosen as the 2015 Tucson Speedway Rookie of the Year.

Vanessa has applied to NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. The main purpose of the diversity program is to attract minorities, females and a more diverse audience to the sport of car racing. She also earned the opportunity to participate in the first-ever NAPA Filters Drivers Expo Powered by Toyota that will be conducted by Bill McAnally Racing in Northern California on August 27th and 28th.

Vanessa comes from a racing family! Her mother, Luz Robinson, was the first woman to win a championship at Southern New Mexico Speedway. Her father, Martin Robinson, was also one of the best racers in the southwest and best race car and engine builder. Her uncle, Manny Nunez, was also one the best drivers at SNMSpeedway.

No wonder Vanessa was born with the need for speed! She made her dirt racing debut at the age of 13. She started in the Street Stock Class and won numerous races and then, the championship.

It did not stop there. She moved to the Dirt Late Model class and won a Rookie of the Year title.

Vanessa also competes with the Dirt Modifieds in special races. Vanessa moved to Asphalt racing, competing in the Modified class and earned another Rookie of the Year.

She has traveled with the Lucas Oil Modified series and became the first woman to compete in the very tough class…the Lucas Oil Modifieds!

Last year, she was invited to participate in the Late Model class in California, running four races with car owner, Junior Roddy. She had a great race. That’s when Vanessa and her family decided to make Tucson Speedway their track for the 2015 season in the Super Late Model Class.

She learned what she knows about racing from her father…watching him and her uncle race and studying every lap they took. The advice she received from her father has been extremely valuable and has made her a great driver!

Copyright 2015 Dark Horse Media. All rights reserved.

Robinson is rolling

VAIL, AZ (Tucson News Now) – Vanessa Robinson may be on her way to more than Tucson Speedway’s Rookie of the Year in the Super Late Model division.

She might just find herself the points champ.

The New Mexico-native won for the second time this season Saturday night when she took the 50-lap Desert Thunder event.

Robinson is in her first-year driving in Tucson not to mention in a Super Late Model stock car.

She entered the weekend in fourth place in the points standings and is the first two-time winner this season.

Other winners on the evening included points leader Kalvin Catlin in the Pro Stock division. Brandon Schilling ran away from the field in the Late Model race. Phil Lopez took the checkers in the Hornets and Las Vegas’ Aaron McMorran was first place in the Bombers division.

The Super Late Models are back on the course on August 15 for The Hot Shot 125.

Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

STORY LINK: http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/29689224/robinson-is-rolling/?clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass&utm_content=buffer0c627&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Robinson Among Entries For Next Era 100 at Blythe

Photo Credit: Lucas Oil Modifieds.
 

CORONA, California (September 24, 2014) – Five weeks ago, when Vanessa Robinson and her family left Southern California for their home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, they were hurt and angry and ready to say to heck with racing.

They had made the trip to Irwindale, California, for another race in the Lucas Oil Modified Series and were excited about racing on the fast half-mile oval for the first time. But two nights before the race thieves drove into the parking lot of their motel and drove out with the Robinson’s truck and trailer, a brand-new race car, a spare motor, all of Vanessa’s driving gear and all of their tools and equipment.

When the other drivers in the series took the track for a race won by 18-year-old rookie Dylan Cappello the Robinsons were on their way home in a rental car and Luz Robinson said she, husband Martin and Vanessa were “mad. We were resentful of everything that had happened to us and we had the attitude that ‘we don’t want to this anymore.’”

Saturday night (September 27), when the Modifieds assemble at Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California, for the Next Era Energy 100 presented by Sunoco Fuel, Vanessa Robinson will be there to try to earn a spot in the 24-car field.

Nothing that was stolen has been recovered, Robinson said. But when the racing community heard about the theft her telephone started ringing with people offering cars and motors and tools and anything else that was needed, and when they got home they had a family discussion.

“We said we’re not the only ones this has happened to and we won’t be the last,” Robinson said. “We started with nothing when we started her racing so we can start all over again. We’ll just be more cautious now, for sure.”

The Robinsons didn’t have to start completely from scratch. The stolen car was a new one that never had been raced, but the old car was home in Martin Robinson’s garage, along with an older motor and a 48-foot trailer that needed some repairs. They have had to buy a new carburetor, some tires and wheels, tools and other items.

“We weren’t going to give up,” Luz said. “We’ll make do with what we have and we feel good about it. We’ve been able to find enough stuff to put the car together and we’ll just keep racing.

“Things happen for a reason. I don’t know what the reason for this was yet, but I see good things coming out of it.”

The Next Era Energy 100 is the eighth of 10 races on this year’s schedule and Cappello will go into it as the championship points leader thanks to his first career win at Irwindale while former leader Austin Barnes was sitting out a one-race suspension.

Cappello, who had been second three times in a row before getting into victory lane, has a 28-point lead over Barnes, the 2012 champion, and is 40 points ahead of Larry Gerchman. Tripp Gaylord, Cappello’s teammate, and Chase Catania trail by 42 and 46 points, respectively.

Barnes won the season’s first race at Blythe, April 19, with Jairo Avila Jr., Jason Patison, Gerchman and Cappello rounding out the top five. Last season two-time champion Jim Mardis and reigning champion Chris Gerchman were the winners of the tight quarter-mile oval.

The speedway gates open at 5 p.m. and racing begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (55 and over), military personnel and handicapped, $5 for teenagers 13 to 17 and $3 for children 6 through 12. Children 5 and under are free. There also is a Family Pack available (2 adults and 2 teens or children) for $20.

The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as “Team Lucas” whose members include General Tire, GEICO, E3 Spark Plugs, Optima Batteries, Ole Smoky Moonshine, iON Cameras, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, BILSTEIN Shocks, LoanMart and SuperClean.

Additional sponsorship is provided by Lucas Oil Products, Protect the Harvest, MAVTV American Real, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, K&N Filters, Aero Racing Wheels, ASI Racewear, Bosch, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Frank’s Radios, Racing Plus and DJ Safety.

Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.

-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release.  Photo Credit: Lucas Oil Modifieds.