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.”