Robert Yates, who first built engines for some of the premier drivers in the sport and then won a championship as an owner, has passed away after a battle with liver cancer. He was 74.
His son, Doug, announced his death on Twitter.
Yates had a remarkable career as an owner, but he excelled under the hood. He built the engines that powered cars to wins in the 1969 and 1982 Daytona 500, and his engine designs propelled Richard Petty to his 199th and 200th career victories. Whether it be as an engine builder or an owner — he started his team in 1988 — he worked with a who’s who of NASCAR royalty.
In addition to Petty, he worked with Dale, Jarrett, Davey Allison and Ernie Irvan.
Yates retired in 2007 and turned Yates Racing over to his son. But he came out of retirement in 2010 to form Robert Yates Racing Engines.
During his career, Yates won the Daytona 500 three times and the Coca Cola 600 twice. He won NASCAR championships as an engine builder (1983) and an owner (1999) and has 134 wins in his career. He was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017 and inducted this year.
The testimonials poured in as soon as his son announced his death.
NBC Sports reported that Tony Stewart released this statement.
“Our sport lost one of the most inventive minds and kindest personalities in Robert Yates. I’m glad I got to know him and proud our race team was able to honor him this year at Darlington. He leaves a strong legacy that is carried on by his son, Doug, and all of their employees at Roush Yates Engines. While Robert will certainly be missed, he will always be remembered.”
And others weighed in: