LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — They have been dubbed “The Lucas Oil Ladies.”
Jessica Clark and Vanessa Robinson will be part of the field when the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series opens its season March 2 at Havasu 95 Speedway.
However, their respective presence in this series should not be viewed as a gender issue. The fact of the matter is: both of these drivers will be bringing a decade’s worth of experience, including driving modified race cars, to the race track. Each has already achieved an impressive measure of success in their careers.
From Westlake Village, Calif., 19-year-old Clark began racing go-karts at age 11 and graduated to junior midget cars. That launched what would become the family owned business now known as Jessica Clark Racing.
It was a move by her dad and crew chief, Rich Clark, that escalated his daughter’s career five years ago when he enrolled her for a tryout with Ron Sutton’s Winner Circle talent search, an organization well known for its outstanding driver development program. Clark excelled in and she wound up racing with the organization for the next four years.
The pinnacle of Clark’s tenure with RSWC came in the 2011 season. As a driver in the USAC Ford Focus Midget Series, she won the championship for both the Western Pavement Division and Southern California Pavement Division. That accomplishment made her the first female in USAC history to win two championships in one year. She also became only the third female driver ever to win a USAC title.
At the start of the 2012 season Clark, still with the RSWC, moved up to the more powerful Grand American Modifieds at the Stockton 99 Speedway. The season ended with her first series win last September. She also gained a wealth of experience that will be very useful while running the Lucas Oil Modified Series this year.
By the way, Clark will make her series’ debut in a very familiar car. The family race team purchased the STR built modified from Barnes Racing. That would be the former No. 51a driven by 2012 series champion Austin Barnes.
From Las Cruces, N.M., 22-year-old Vanessa “Rockstar” Robinson also has a decade’s worth of racing experience. She comes by that naturally. She grew up in a racing family that includes her dad-Martin Robinson, her mom-Luz Robinson and her uncle Manny Nunez.
Robinson made her debut in the family business over ten years ago at the Southern New Mexico Speedway, a dirt oval located in Las Cruces, where she competed in the street stock division. She spent the next seven years racing her street stock and eventually won the division’s track championship becoming the youngest female to win a title at that speedway.
By the way, Robinson received the nickname “Rockstar” from the announcer at the Southern New Mexico Speedway because she always finished her races with a great performance while always coming from the back to end the race with a spectacular finish.
The Racing Robinsons decided it was time to elevate their operation to asphalt ovals leading Vanessa to the open wheel modified division at the NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque, where she spent the 2011 season.
Last year the family made the giant leap of faith by deciding to enter the highly competitive world of the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series. Despite the expense of travelling, and the physically demanding long hauls from and to home, the Robinsons felt a regional touring series would be an extremely valuable learning tool for their racing daughter.
She finished her debut season in the series by finishing 19th in the standings, which is quite respectable considering the fact that a total of 59 teams participated in the series during the 2012 season.