Feature Story

Robbie Takes The Next Step

Robbie Loomis takes over as crew chief on Jeff Gordon's DuPont Chevrolet for the 2000 season. Brian Whitesell, who had taken over the position after Ray Evernham left the organization, has been promoted to team manager. For Loomis, the new position brings with it increased pressure. However, dealing with pressure and a demanding car owner are nothing new for the 35-year-old. After all, he spent a decade working as the head wrench for Petty Enterprises, the most successful organization in the history of NASCAR.

His interest in racing began at the age of three when his father, Don, brought him to local racetracks near his hometown of Forest City, Florida. By the time he turned 12, Robbie began working after school with his uncle who raced. He eventually tried his hand at driving and toured local racetracks during his teenage years. "I drove in the thundercar division at New Smyrna Speedway for two years until I decided I couldn't afford it anymore," Robbie said. "Then I started getting into working on cars."

While still in high school, Loomis worked part time for well-known Orlando engine-builder Bo Laws, as well as driver Rick Wilson, who was driving on the all-pro circuit at the time. Once he graduated from Lake Brantley High School, he moved to Gadsden, Alabama to work for Mickey Gibbs. He eventually made his way back to Florida to work for Wilson again, and later for Gary Ballough. His big break came in 1988 when he was hired as a general mechanic for Richard Petty.

Robbie was named crew chief for Petty in 1991 and served in that position until "The King" retired following the 1992 season. He remained as crew chief for Petty Enterprises working with Rick Wilson and Wally Dallenbach over the next two seasons. With driver Bobby Hamilton in 1996, the STP team posted a victory at Phoenix and finished ninth in the points standings. Hamilton won the following year at Rockingham before departing the organization. John Andretti stepped in to the #43 car in 1998 to work with Loomis. The team finished 11th in points that season; Andretti's career high in the standings. In 1999, Loomis became team manager for both Andretti and Kyle Petty's #44 Hot Wheels Pontiac at Petty Enterprises. The season saw Andretti posted a victory at Martinsville and Petty had a resurgence after struggling in 1998. Following the 1999 season, Loomis was offered the job of a lifetime to work with three-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports. He jumped at the chance. Welcome aboard Robbie.

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