Ask any motorcycle history buff to name some of the most enthusiastic and active women of motorcycling in the last century. Chances are, the first person they will name will be Dorothy, known fondly as Dot Robinson Motor Maids founder.
Dot was born Dorothy Goulding, the daughter of sidecar manufacturer and Saginaw, Mich., Harley-Davidson dealer Jim Goulding, on April 22, 1912. Working in the dealership at age 16, she met her future husband (and future Harley-Davidson dealer) Earl Robinson. They married in 1931, bought the franchise from her father and moved it to Detroit.
Dot Robinson Motor Maids First Victory a 100 Mile Endurance Run
The five-foot-two-inch tall, Robinson spent many weekends through the 1930s competing in endurance runs in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. Her first victory was in a 100-mile endurance run with a perfect score. Even more impressive was her second place finish in the brutal two-day “Jack Pine” enduro in 1937. Less than half the entrants even finished the contest that year. Robinson went on to win the Jack Pine in 1940.
Dot Robinson also acted as co-owner of the Detroit dealership and managed its financial books. To add to those responsibilities, she worked as a motorcycle courier for a private defense contractor during World War II. In tandem with Motor Maids founder Linda Allen Dugeau, Robinson spearheaded the expansion of the membership growth of the club, and was elected its first president, a position she held for more than 25 years.
In her time with the Motor Maids, Dot Robinson logged up to 50,000 miles a year to help increase the visibility of the club and motorcycling in general. Near the end of her riding days, she estimated having logged more than 1.5 million total miles on motorcycles in her lifetime! It might be said that few women have done as much for motorcycling as Dot Robinson, but more accurately, it should be said that few people have done as much for motorcycling as she has. She was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame in 1998.
Dot Robinson passed away in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 8, 1999, at the age of 87, with the well-earned nickname of “The First Lady of Motorcycling.” More information can be found about her life on the Motor Maids Website.
*Source Harley-Davidson media; Written by Bill Jackson, Senior Archivist Harley-Davidson Archives Milwaukee