NASCAR said goodbye to one of its most legendary personalities on Monday, as future Hall of Fame car owner Robert Yates lost his battle with liver cancer at the age of 74. After being diagnosed last October, Yates was selected on 94 percent of the voting ballots to be inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
Yates was known for elevating the careers of many other Hall of Fame drivers as well, building some of the best engines in the sport, and heading to victory lane 57 times in his ownership career between 1988 and 2007, when he retired.
Being one of the most iconic individuals in the garage, Yates also experienced some of NASCAR’s greatest triumphs. He was the car owner during three Daytona 500 victories, which is the sport’s biggest race, winning with Davey Allison in 1992, and fellow Hall Of Famer Dale Jarrett in 1996 and 2000. He also won his only championship in 1999 with Jarrett, who has always credited Yates for his successes.
When speaking about Yates’ impending induction into the Hall of Fame back in 2016, Jarrett stated, “It seems a little odd that I’m sitting here as a member of the Hall of Fame and the only reason I am is because of that Yates family and what Robert Yates did as a car owner.”
“I don’t even know if I’ll sleep tonight,” Yates said on May 24th after he was voted into the 2018 class. “I’m so honored and I love this sport, and I want this sport to do the same thing it did for me, again and again and again.”
His son Doug Yates, who currently heads Roush Yates Engines — the organization that builds all the primary Ford engines in NASCAR’s top three series — announced the passing of his father on Twitter late Monday evening.
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