LEMASTERS: Remembering Becky Robbins
CONCORD, N.C. — Becky Robbins passed away earlier this week.
Those who knew her realize why that’s important. Those who didn’t missed the opportunity to know a lady who built the American Speed Ass’n from its infancy to one of the best training grounds for top-level stock car races in the world.
Oh, sure, she had help. Her husband, Rex, was the mover and the shaker and the face of the company, but I’m here to tell you that nothing moved without Becky’s sign-off, whether it was back in the day or right at the very end.
In my youth, I lived at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway when I could get away with it. Watching the USAC sprint cars and midgets was my main vocation in those days. Every year, though, we went to the Dri-Powr 400, and it was a blast.
Now known as the Winchester 400, it was the biggest short-track race in the Midwest and it ranked right up there with the World Cup 300, the All-American 400 and the Snowball Derby as the monsters of late-model stock car events.
While still in college, I got the opportunity to go on the road with ASA. It was Kenny Wallace’s rookie year, Mark Martin was to earn his fourth and final ASA crown and there was a new guy named Gary St. Amant in the field too.
Becky Robbins was in charge of the road crew, per se, and she ran it with an iron fist. You did what you were told and right now, or you risked getting on her bad side. That was no place to be. Of course, if you screwed up and felt bad about it — there was some of that on my part — she would often be your best friend, too.
When I worked for Chris and Corinne (Economaki) at NSSN (I’ve never really stopped, but then, you know that!), Chris was always fascinated with the Robbins’ and the organization they built. It was unlike anything else at the time, when NASCAR was on its way up, and there are hundreds of former ASA drivers and crew members in the pits on any given weekend to this day.
Rex is a man who will never get the credit he deserves for starting ASA and chivvying it to where it ended up before he and Becky sold out in 2002. It was a brilliant concept, executed well, and it was mom-and-pop from the beginning. That isn’t to say it was cheap and not well-run, because it wasn’t and it was, if you get my drift.
Rex is still around, though he’s feeling poorly nowadays, and I hope he knows that I really loved working for ASA with him and Becky and their son Brian at the helm.
Rest in peace, Becky, and I’ll try to stay on your good side from here.