He’s a man of many talents, and whether he’s driving a race car at 200 miles an hour, flying high over St. Louis in his two-pilot turbojet, or dealing with a $10 million insurance claim, Robby McGehee is doing it with zest.
As a young boy growing up in Ladue, he says he was already a daredevil at heart.
“We used to watch the Indy 500 on the Sunday before Memorial Day every single year like it was a holiday. We’d wake up early to listen to the races,” he says, “So when I was eight years old I wrote that when I grew up, I wanted to be an Indianapolis racer, I wanted to be AJ Foyt.”
He never made it to the actual races but got to see the qualifications. At 13, he was driving his mom’s Porsche back and forth in the driveway, and by age 16, he was driving his own 300 ZX and attending Skip Barber Racing School.
The young daredevil also had aspirations for another daring career. He grew up in the Top Gun era and visited Annapolis Air Force Academy hoping to become a fighter pilot.
Robby explains, “My eyes weren't good enough, so I raced cars on the ground going faster. And then when I retired from racing, I started flying.”
In 1999, Robby took fifth place at the Indy 500 and was named Rookie of the Year. But his racing career wasn’t without sorrow. He saw a good friend severely injured and lost close friends in racing accidents. He, himself was seriously injured.
“I broke my leg twice in one year, and right when it was healed is when I hit a SAFER barrier and re-broke it at the exact same place,” Robby says.
He met his wife, Norma, on a blind date. They married in 2005 and welcomed three beautiful triplets in 2009.
“Parenthood definitely changes your perspective on life,” he says beaming, “I mean, everything's about them as it should be, and I love it.”
Robby hung up his racing helmet in 2004.
“Part of the reason I retired was that it wasn’t worth dying for anymore, as it had been at one point in my life,” he reflects.
After retirement, he began working for his dad’s insurance brokerage company in risk management.
“Everyone jokes…Robby likes to go fast. He's used to racing cars and flying jets. The difference is when you're racing a car, you push it beyond the limit to be the fastest,” he explains, “When you're flying an airplane, you're just going on checklists, you're operating a piece of machinery, and then the far end of that is when you're in risk management, you avoid risk.”
These days, life is very different for the one-time Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. The McGehees are the homeowners of a gorgeous 106-year-old historic home on the National Historic Registry in Clayton.
“It's just a great estate lot right in the middle of some real estate,” he says with excitement, “We've got a pond, a pool, a basketball court, we’ve got everything, it's awesome.”
Robby trains every day, works with his Ten8Project, takes care of prized pets Winnie and Chunk, and spends the rest of his days at baseball and hockey games for his 14-year-triplets, Robby Jr., Harry and Cammie.
“I am truly blessed for many reasons. I've made great friends, got to live out my dream,” he says smiling,” And I’ve got an awesome career, an amazing family and I wouldn't have done it any other way.”