The secret to success in racing begins with horsepower and nobody
knows that better than Robert Yates Racing founder and owner Robert
Yates. Considered a premier engine builder and one of the most brilliant
minds in horsepower, Robert Yates now boasts one of the most high
profile and successful teams in NASCAR.
Growing up as one of nine children in a well-respected Charlotte
family, Yates enjoyed a childhood full digging tunnels, building
fortresses and riding bicycles. As a youth, he found himself drawn
to a local Gulf service station where he watched the mechanics service
cars. Fascinated by what he saw, he and his twin brother, Richard,
began tinkering with lawn mower engines, converting them into go-cart
engines. To support the expense of go-cart parts and fuel, the boys
began delivering newspapers to earn money.
In his teenage years, Yates focused his interests on cars - fast
cars. Working day and night to save money, Robert and Richard dreamed
of owning a car. Their father, Rev. John Clyde Yates, respected
how hard they worked and rewarded them with their first car: a 1947
Pontiac. Little did his father know that this car would build the
foundation for Robert's reputation as one of the premier engine
builders in stock car racing.
Throughout high school, Robert worked tirelessly to support his
passion for working on cars. After school he worked at Babe Malloy's
drive-in restaurants in Charlotte and Asheville, often going to
bed at midnight, only to rise at 3:30am to deliver newspapers. The
hard work didn't bother Yates, as long as he was able to build and
modify his cars.
Drag racing on the side streets of Charlotte, Yates' heavy foot
caused him a fair amount of trouble with the Charlotte police -
and his parents. More interested in working on his car than doing
his homework, Yates was floundering in school. With a father that
believed in education above all else, there was no choice but to
take Robert's driver's license away. Fortunately, this caused young
Robert to realize he needed to find direction in his life.
Robert's sister and her husband invited him to live with them in
Wake Forest, North Carolina. Leaving the cars behind for a while,
Robert focused on school and graduated from Wake Forest High School
as a straight-A student in 1961.
With the need for speed still in his blood, Robert witnessed his
first NASCAR race in Daytona in 1963. Fueled by his affinity for
mechanics, Robert graduated from Wilson Technical College in Wilson,
North Carolina in 1964 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
In 1965, Robert married his sweetheart, Carolyn and in 1967, they
welcomed the arrival of their first baby, son Doug Yates.
In 1967, Robert was employed by Western Carolina Tractor Company
in Charlotte where he refurbished large pieces of machinery. His
ability to assemble and disassemble various mechanical jobs with
speed and accuracy gained the attention of the shop foreman and
Robert was able to work on various projects throughout the shop.
It also gained the attention of a friend that worked at the legendary
Holman-Moody racecar factory.
Yates joined Holman-Moody in 1968 as the air gauge department manager
and got his first real taste of racing. This opportunity required
an average of 100 hours a week, yet provided an improved income
for his family and Robert thoroughly enjoyed the work. It was quickly
discovered that Yates was an engine-building genius and his career
of creating horsepower with NASCAR engines had begun. Throughout
his tenure at Holman-Moody, Yates gained invaluable experience working
on the latest engines and technology.
In 1971 Yates joined forces with Junior Johnson's organization to
oversee engine development for legendary drivers Bobby Allison and
Cale Yarborough. Over the next decade, Yates provided the best horsepower
available at the time for a variety of drivers including Ricky Rudd,
Greg Sacks and Darrell Waltrip. During his tenure at DiGard, Yates
worked as chief engine builder for Bobby Allison's 1983 Winston
Cup Championship team.
After leaving DiGard in 1986 to work on the development of synthetic
fuels, Yates returned to racing as general manager for Ranier-Lundy
Racing, beginning the next chapter of his life story. In 1988, with
the team struggling and up for sale, Robert Yates - at the urging
of dear friend and driver Davey Allison - purchased Ranier-Lundy
Racing and formed Robert Yates Racing (RYR).
Together Allison and Yates were title contenders in 1992 and finished
a respectable third. In 1993, however, Robert Yates Racing lost
both a driver and a friend when Allison was killed in a helicopter
crash. To fill the seat of the famed #28 Ford in 1994, Ernie Irvan
stepped in and the team found immediate success. Irvan won five
races for RYR before he was critically injured in an accident at
Michigan in 1994.
In 1995, Yates signed Dale Jarrett to drive the #28 Ford. The following
year, Irvan made a heroic return to the car, while Yates expanded
his race team to a two-car organization. Yates created the #88 Ford
for Jarrett, which turned out to be a stellar career decision: he
was awarded his first NASCAR championship in 1999 with Jarrett behind
Yates had two more drivers take the wheel of the legendary #28 Ford.
First, the late Kenny Irwin captured Rookie of the Year honors in
1998. After two seasons with Irwin, Yates named veteran Ricky Rudd
as his driver in 2000. During his three season tenure, Rudd posted
four wins in the #28 Ford.
Infusing new energy into the organization in 2002, Yates added young
gun Elliott Sadler and transitioned the #28 to the #38 Ford car
The 2004 season opened with instant success with Dale Jarrett taking
the checkered flag at the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International
Speedway followed by an Elliott Sadler trip to victory lane in the
Gatorade Twin 125's later that same week. Sadler picked up two more
wins, at Texas Motor Speedway and California Speedway and finished
ninth in the championship point standings.
In 2005, Robert Yates Racing will add a third team to its roster.
The #90 Ford sponsored by CitiFinancial will compete in the NASCAR
Busch series of racing.
Originating from humble beginnings to reach the upper echelon of
NASCAR racing, Robert Yates is a testament to hard work, determination
and a constant quest for excellence. With all of his success, Yates
still remains a hands-on leader with a gentle, approachable demeanor.
Yates resides in Cornelius, North Carolina with his wife Carolyn.
Yates' children include Doug, the oldest of the couple's two children
who heads Roush-Yates Racing Engines and daughter, Amy.
| 2005 © Robert Yates Racing Inc.