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NEW YORK — NASCAR, the top spectator sport in the U.S. with a fan base of more than 75 million, may seem unlikely to be paired with Vassarette lingerie. But they have a common denominator in Shawna Robinson.
Robinson, 40, the race car driver, mother and interior decorator, has become the spokeswomen for Vassarette, a role she plans to embrace with the same intensity she shows while circling a track at high speed.
Her deal with Vassarette is through a partnership with her team, Keith Coleman Racing, to sponsor Robinson on the NASCAR Busch Series in 2005. Vassarette, a brand of VF Intimates Inc., is the primary sponsor of Robinson’s number 23 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the current season.
She will serve as product spokeswoman for the brand, making in-store, media and promotional event appearances and will appear on promotional materials during the year.
“Shawna is a perfect fit for our product image,” said Art DeCesaro, vice president and general merchandise manager of the Vassarette brand. “She is a sexy, fun and fashionable woman of great determination who has already accomplished a great deal in the world of motor sports. We will unveil an aggressive nationwide promotional campaign for Vassarette Racing and Shawna Robinson that will begin in Daytona and continue through the entire 2005 season.”
Robinson said, “It’s important to fit the sponsor with the driver and Vassarette fits very well with me. They have cool marketing, which I like, and they want to relate to all ages, which is important to me. I’m not shy about promoting bras and panties. We all wear them and they’re part of every women’s life. It’s a classy brand and they make a top-of-the-line product.”
As one of the few women on the NASCAR and Busch series tours, “You learn to put blinders on and not worry what people say or think, although for the most part the guys judge you by your performance, not whether you’re a woman.”
Robinson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, where her father, “Lefty” Robinson, was a motocross race promoter. She began by helping him and started racing trucks at the age of 18. Then she moved on to car racing and joined the NASCAR circuit in 1988. She took two years off about eight years ago to have two children, who are now seven and eight years old.
“Not only did having children change my life, but I had to change my lifestyle centered around my career,” Robinson said. “I travel a lot, so I had to arrange coverage for my children and deal with being away from them for days at a time. That’s the hardest part. I give credit to every working mother out there ”
Robinson feels she’s followed in the footsteps of racer Janet Guthrie in “opening doors for a lot of women” in car racing and other traditional men’s sports and activities.
She has competed on all three of the NASCAR’s major series. Robinson was the first woman to start a NASCAR Winston Cup race since 1989 when she began the race at Brooklyn, Mich., on June 10, 2001. When she finished it, she was the first woman to do so since Guthrie in 1980.
Her goal is to have a top-10 finish this year or next. Robinson said her weakness is that she tends to lose confidence if she doesn’t finish well for a period of time, while her strength is that she’s a good come-from-behind driver, “always have been.”
Robinson lives in Charlotte, N.C., where she operates her own interior design business, specializing in painting murals for children’s rooms.
“A lot of the work has been for drivers on the tour,” she said. “It started when I was pregnant and had time on my hands.”
Miles Bohannan, director of marketing for the Vassarette brand, said, “There is a strong compatibility between motor sport racing fans and Vassarette consumers…more than 40 percent of NASCAR’s audience is comprised of women. We consider them to be excellent potential customers for the Vassarette brand.”