To all NC Region members and friends:
We lost a true Racer and friend on Saturday morning April 2nd. Dan Robson, aka “Mad Man Dan” and “Dan the Man” passed away peacefully at the Hospice section of the Durham VA Hospital. Although he lived alone for most of his life, he did not die alone, as his sister and several of us were present. Dan had just turned 71 on March 7th. Parkinson’s couldn’t take him, but cancer did. And that was a diagnosis he didn’t know until a week prior. Unfortunately the cancer was already advanced and un-treatable. He is survived by his mother, step-father, and a large family of brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, out west primarily in Arizona and New Mexico where he grew up.
I first met Dan as an Autocrosser in 1976 at an event, maybe at the Fairgrounds or on the NC State campus, when we were both 20-somethings, he in a Mini and I in a Civic. He had just gotten out of the Air Force a year or two before and was working for Raleigh Durham Aviation in electronics. We hit it off and became lifelong friends. We both joined NC Region that same year and neither of us was ever a member of any other region. I went on from there to become the Region’s Autocross Chair for four years while he went on to Racing, but we stayed in touch, and I crewed for him at SCCA races for several years before going to drivers school myself in 1983 at Rockingham. We were competitors and friends, always in some GT class. For me it was a hobby, always second to family and career, but to Dan, it was everything. He sacrificed a lot of creature comforts during his life to pursue his passion, but he truly lived his life his own way.
He competed 28 times at the Runoffs, finishing 10 times in the top 5, including 2 second place podium finishes. Along the way, he also won 7 SCCA Divisional Championships in SEDIV. I crewed for him at most of his races, when I wasn’t competing with him, and we had a lot of laughs and adventures along the way. He never quite had the $ resources to have the best equipment, but whatever he raced, it was always 100% Dan. Fabricator, mechanic, and driver. He was the ultimate definition of ‘Club Racer’.
Outside of SCCA Club Racing, Dan left a promising career in aviation to join Team Highball fairly early on in their history. He was an integral part of the team and was there during at least four straight Daytona 24 Hour wins with the RX-7 of members Amos Johnson and Dennis Shaw. When Mazda money starting going into prototype racing, Highball and several other Mazda teams had to switch programs and scale back. Dan then went to work for Roger Mandeville in Spartanburg for many years, before moving on to Bob Leitzinger (Nissan), Tommy Riggins (Trans Am), and then back to Spartanburg to lead the Support Net team in international Prototype racing. He eventually found his way back to Raleigh with Long Road Racing almost 15 years ago. Along the way, whenever he could, he continued to race in SCCA with his own cars.
He was my ‘brother from another mother’, but I realize he was that to a lot of us. He will be missed, but not forgotten. RIP 42.
In 2014, the North Carolina Region honored Dan with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
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