Championship car owner, engine builder, and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Robert Yates has passed away at the age of 74.
Yates was diagnosed with liver cancer late last year. He first underwent treatment on October 31, 2016 but the prognosis gradually worsened. Unfortunately, his fight to beat the nasty disease has come to an end.
His son, Doug Yates, broke the news late Monday evening on Twitter.
My Dad and Hero, Robert Yates, has passed and is with the Lord. Thanks for all the prayers and support. pic.twitter.com/hxa0wfdZkE
— Doug Yates (@Yates_Doug) October 3, 2017
“My dad’s the toughest guy you’ve ever met,” Yates said in the video. “Never give up, always looking for the positive and looking for a competitive advantage. And that’s the way he raised myself, my family and everybody at Roush Yates.”
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our founder, Robert Yates. He was surrounded by his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/wEtD5noXAU
— Roush Yates Engines (@roushyates) October 3, 2017
Yates first rose to prominence in the sport as an engine builder. His motors won the 1983 Cup championship with Bobby Allison and were also used by DiGard and Darrell Waltrip. Yates engines, now under partnership with Jack Roush power the majority of Fords you see on the track today.
But Yates, from NASCAR’s home base of Charlotte, N.C. will be remembered most as a car owner. He purchased the assets of Ranier Lundy Racing in October 1988 and kept a young, promising driver on board named Davey Allison. Allison would deliver him a Daytona 500 win, in 1992 and come tantalizingly close to a series title before perishing in a helicopter crash in July 1993.
Yates was heartbroken, his No. 28 team forced to rebuild. But after grieving, he rose again, this time with Ernie Irvan. Irvan challenged for a title in his first year, 1994, before serious injuries suffered in a crash at Michigan sidelined him 15 months.
That forced Yates to take a chance on Dale Jarrett; and for the car owner, the third time really was the charm. It was a partnership that would last for over a decade and came with two more Daytona 500 victories (1996 & 2000). Jarrett won Yates his championship, in 1999 and became the longest-tenured driver with the team.
In all, RYR compiled a whopping 57 wins and 48 poles from 1989-2007. RYR also amassed 433 top-10 finishes in 1,155 starts. Ricky Rudd, the late Kenny Irwin, and Elliott Sadler are among the sport’s better-known names who drove for the team.
Yates was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.
About the author
Davey is in his fifth season with Frontstretch and currently serves as a multimedia editor and reporter. He authors the "NASCAR Mailbox" column, spearheads the site's video content and hosts the Frontstretch Podcast weekly. He's covered the K&N Pro Series and ARCA extensively for NASCAR.com and currently serves as an associate producer for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and production assistant for NBC Sports Washington. Follow him on Twitter @DaveyCenter.
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