NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Robert Yates passes away after battle with cancer

Jerry Jordan/Kickin' The Tires

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

The motorsports world lost a friend in Robert Yates on Monday. Yates, former NASCAR team owner and founder of Roush Yates Engines, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 74. His son, Doug Yates, confirmed the passing of his father on social media.

In May, Yates was announced to join Ken Squier, Red Byron, Ron Hornaday and Ray Evernham has the newest class to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.

Yates began his career in NASCAR in 1968 at Holman-Moody Racing. In 1971, Yates landed a job with Junior Johnson as a mechanic and engine builder. He provided the engine power to Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. The engines built by Yates led Allison to a series championship in 1983 with DiGard Racing.

In 1988, Yates announced he would move to become a team owner, a title he held until 2007. During that time, drivers like Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, Davey Allison, Robby Gordon, Lake Speed, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Ricky Rudd, Elliott Sadler, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, and Paul Menard came through the Robert Yates Racing stable. They compiled a total of 57 wins and 48 poles together.

In 2004, Yates joined Jack Roush to form Roush Yates Engines, a staple among Ford drivers across all of NASCAR’s national divisions. In their first year as a company, they collected 19 Cup wins and the championship. Today, Roush Yates Engines is the exclusive engine provider for Ford Performance across all their racing series. Yates son, Doug, continues to carry on the legacy as the top engine builders in NASCAR.

Dave Pericak, global director of Ford Performance released the following statement:

“Robert Yates knew the value of hard work and earned everything he achieved in life.  Not only was Robert a legendary engine builder and championship car owner, but he was a husband, father, grandfather and loyal Ford man who left an unmeasurable impact on those who knew him.

“He was a respected and valued member of the Ford family and co-founder of Roush Yates Engines, and while we’ll miss the wisdom he possessed for working on engines and race cars, we will miss his caring demeanor and friendship even more.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Robert’s wife, Carolyn, his two children, Doug and Amy, and his eight grandchildren.”

Edsel B. Ford II, member of the board of directors for Ford Motor Company, released the following statement:

“We at Ford are collectively saddened to have learned the news of the passing of Robert Yates.  Robert, by any measure, was a valued and respected member of our family.

His many accomplishments included winning the NASCAR championship in 1999 and being selected for the class of 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame.  I am proud to have been a part of both of those events but most meaningful to me was our friendship which spanned over 20 years.

First and foremost an engine guy, Robert will be remembered as a person who helped build the sport with dedication and hard work.  His legacy at NASCAR will be defined by his roles as an engine builder, championship team owner, co-founder of Roush Yates Engines and ultimately by the innovation that he brought to all of these endeavors and more.

Much like my great grandfather, Henry Ford, Robert was a tinkerer.  They both leave behind a legion of admirers and friends who benefited from their mentorship and their passion.

We at Ford offer our sincere condolences to Robert’s wife Carolyn, his son Doug, daughter Amy and his eight grandchildren.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *