After spending the last 20 years sitting on the sidelines, the right opportunity has presented itself for Leroy Robinson to come out and compete with the Knightworks Design OSCAAR Hot Rods this season.
“My thoughts going into this season is I’m bringing a 40-year-old racecar out of retirement, out of the wrecking yard basically, and I’m going to give it all I got and give it one more kick at the can,” he said. “I’m 52-years-old and I really want to give her a whirl.”
Robinson’s interest in racing was re-sparked through his friendship with Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Series competitor Bob Merrifield.
“My cousin was getting married and we were all going down to Mexico for his wedding, and we were sitting in my barn in the garage,” Robinson recalled. “I told him that I had to get him drunk in Mexico as he was the only person that I knew that had a car, and I wanted to drive one more time. So that was the big joke, and we all started laughing and joking about it.
“A couple weeks later, my cousin and I were sitting at the barn and he says, ‘Why don’t we go watch Bob race?’ I told him ‘naw,’ and he said that we should go as they’re just at Sauble Beach. So we ended up going to – and that’s how it all started. I got hooked right in it again. I jumped in both feet, and two weeks later, I started building this car.”
The Camaro that Robinson will be driving this season has a lot of family history, as his dad and uncle built the car back in 1976. Robinson was able to get the car in possession after coming across it in a wrecking yard 23 years ago.
“I sat on the car, didn’t know what I was going to do with it,” he explained. “I was going to put it on the street at one time, and then I had a fan send me a link to the OSCAAR Hot Rods. I looked at the rules package and the blood started boiling all over again.”
The car represents a piece of racing history, as it was done based on the first chassis design by Howe Racing Enterprises. Considered a super late at that time, the first cars by Ed Howe and Tom Mater were built in 1973, named ‘Going’ and ‘Gone,’ going on to win 77 races between them during the season.
Now bringing the car back, Robinson’s goal is to run as many races as he can financially, right now setting his budget at five races for the 2019 campaign.
“I would like to hit all the races if I could get some sponsorship money,” he commented. “I’m trying. It’s tough. I’m coming back after 30 years of retirement, so it’s a big step for me to come back and I’m ready to come back full bore.”
Looking at the wide variety of speedways on this year’s calendar, Robinson admits that he is most excited to get to Jukasa Motor Speedway.
The excitement is high across the board, with the constant growth of the series only adding to the hype.
“There are some guys building some really nice cars out there, from what I can see,” he commented. “I spoke with some of them over the computer and they’ve been very helpful, like Tyler Hawn. I never met him, but I commend that man with everything I’ve got as he’s been a really nice guy. I think this series is a great series, and it’s up-and-coming, and there’s nothing but growth that come out of the series.”
Robinson went on to say that he’s been watching every single video posted of the races thus far on YouTube.
“The drivers are fabulous,” he continued. “They look like they’re out there for a good time and not to wreck each other. They’re out there to be competitive, but they’re out there to save their cars.
“I really like how you’ve taken the time to reach out and speak to the drivers. Any information that I needed from (series president) Dave (Gainforth), he has either forwarded me a link or hooked me up with someone directly to speak with. So it’s been a very pleasureful experience joining the series.”
Based on what he has watched thus far, he says the guys to watch entering the 2019 campaign would be Tyler Hawn, Jeremy McLean, and Brad Martin.
As noted, racing has always been part of the Robinson family, as his grandfather was head of the Western Ontario Stock Car Association. That was then followed by a pair of his sons competing, leading to Robinson getting behind the wheel himself.
It’s fitting in seeing Robinson bring this particular car out, as he hasn’t ever forgotten where things began in the sport. He paid homage to the veterans by putting on an old timer’s racer in 1989 at Checkered Flag Motor Speedway, something that he calls his most memorable moment in racing to date.
“I brought all the old drivers back from the 50’s and 60’s to drive a modern racecar,” he recalled. “I had 30-something drivers all race. Some of these hadn’t sat in these cars for over 25 years. They came out, and they put on a helluva show. It was really, really cool.
“That was when I quit racing because my dream was to have my uncle drive my racecar. In 1989, he came out of retirement and drove my racecar. The following week, I came home and sold everything – and never went back to the race track until two years ago.”
By: Ashley McCubbin