The first stop on the annual Charlotte media tour was the new home of Robert Yates Racing. The 80,000-square foot facility is located in Mooresville, NC, and was the previous headquarters for Eel River Racing. The Yates organization has...
The first stop on the annual Charlotte media tour was the new home of Robert Yates Racing. The 80,000-square foot facility is located in Mooresville, NC, and was the previous headquarters for Eel River Racing. The Yates organization has undergone a restructuring for 2003 with longtime crew chief Todd Parrott becoming director of competition and Doug Yates taking over in the newly created position of general manager. Raymond Fox and Brad Parrott have been hired as crew chiefs for Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett, respectively.
Part 2 of 2 - Robert Yates, Todd and Brad Parrott, and Raymond Fox
ROBERT YATES, Owner - Robert Yates Racing:
"I didn't read that story about Roush and the Ford deal, but I want to let you all know, I haven't really talked to the Ford guys about this, but we've signed a five-year deal with Ford Motor Company and we're excited about that. We've also re-signed with Ford Credit and it's nice that we still have them as a great sponsor. So I wanted to plug our team. We're gonna keep Jack Roush very honest. We're gonna make our boys run really well. We're excited about having all these sponsors and the good thing for me is the fact that we have this youth in place. Here they come. They're gonna squeeze me out the top or the bottom and I'm trying to go out the top."
WHEN DID MOVING SHOP LOCATION START BEING TALKED ABOUT? "We started thinking about it because it was raining at Homestead Friday evening. Devin Birmingham called me and said, 'My dad doesn't want to take your offer, but I will. I'll make it happen.' Doug talked to me and said he wanted to make it happen and he had a plan. I asked him what he was gonna do and he said he wanted to put the teams back together. He said the 28 shop would be the chassis shop because we were wanting to move it. We were actually had been looking for a building and were talking about it that night, so as soon as I got that phone call we went to Todd's motorhome. We went there and he jumped in and then went to Raymond's motorhome and he jumped in, and then they asked if we could have until March to get it done and I told them we could. But to get out of Charlotte, they told me if I left my billfold there on the first of the year, it wouldn't be mine any longer. I didn't tell them that up front, but we pulled off a very quick move. I'm two years ahead because we didn't have to start another construction zone that we had planned. We were just acquiring some property to build it on the same campus on Rolling Hill, but this place just worked out perfect. I don't want to paint myself in a corner, but we've got a better organization now than ever before because I gave Doug the money. I'm always trying to run everything with 10 people and he's got 160 people. He's well organized and we're in gear, so watch out competition, here we come."
WILL YOU BUILD ANYMORE? "This is it for me. I'm getting rid of my construction hat and the whole deal. I'm done constructing. If we do it anymore, it will be something these young guys will do."
DOUG MENTIONED SEEING SOME OF DAVEY ALLISON IN ELLIOTT. DO YOU? "I actually have this whole deal about packaging Davey and the 28 car up and not discussing it in any text, but, you know, it's hard not to see that in him. He's fun to be around. He's involved and he's a hoot. Davey was always that way. He didn't come in with a sourpuss attitude and that's the way he's been. Davey was a great competitor, but he was always fun to get rejuvenated by Monday morning at 10 o'clock and I see that in Elliott. He's easy to talk to. He's in it, he's with you, he doesn't look down his nose at you or disrespect you. He respects all the people here and that's exactly the way the Allisons were, so I feel good about that. Respecting people - he doesn't think he's any better than anybody else, but he knows that if everybody works together, he'll look like he's better than everybody else."
WAS IT HARD NOT TO USE THE 28 THIS YEAR? "My first reaction was, 'There's no way under the sun.' I was allowing everybody to have their wishes, but I wasn't gonna let them have the 28. I've got 15 years tied up in that, so, no way, I wouldn't even consider it. I laid awake at night and talked to Carolyn about it and she sometimes takes her race hat off and just wants me to be Robert, but she said, 'It's not a bad idea just to get a good, fresh start and start over.' So I said, 'OK, I'll do it.' They then came back to me later and said, 'Why don't you just keep it (the 28),' and I was like, 'No way, we're gonna make this new package work. We've got a great number on it and I wouldn't go back to that. All of my memories of the 28 and whatever we've done in the past are great memories and I can't do anymore damage. I told Bobby Allison, 'I can't do anymore damage to the 28.' We can have all the good memories of that 28 car, but, yet, we're starting a new package with the 38."
TODD PARROTT, Director of Competition - Robert Yates Racing:
WHAT ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUR BROTHER? "I'm really excited. Dale hit on it a little bit ago. We won the championship in '99 and we worked together. Brad has been here for five years out of the seven that we've been together. The role that he's in, you go out in this sport and try to prove yourself. Well, he went out last year on his own after I fired him in October of the year before and he got a real job - a great job working with Jeff Burton and Jack Roush and he proved himself. He won five out of 13 Busch races. I listened to him call the races and do the things that he did and I was very impressed. Doug came to me with the idea of this structure the first of December and I thought it might be something really good. I'm really looking forward to working with Brad and Raymond, and Elliott and Dale, in the role that I'm in. I'm excited about this year and the things that are gonna happen."
WHAT ABOUT THIS CHANGE? "Doug came to me with the idea and it was like, 'I tried this last year. I don't want to screw up again and make a mistake by just jumping into something.' So we took about a week or so to think it. We didn't have long to think because we were in the moving process and all that, but it happened and I'm real excited. To work with Raymond, Brad, Elliott and Dale, the whole organization, to try and pull two separate race teams together as one race team. Joe Gibbs is another operation that works really close together. A lot of times in this sport, two heads are a lot better than one and now we've got five or six heads all working together. I think the structure Doug is putting in place is gonna make the Robert Yates organization something that's really strong and something to be proud of."
HOW WILL THIS BE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU GUYS TRIED LAST YEAR? "I think it's the chemistry -- the chemistry between me and Brad. Obviously, we've worked together. I know what he does and how he does things. I'm not knocking Jimmy Elledge one bit, it's just the things we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it wasn't working and clicking within the team. We were pretty far down in points - we were 26th in points going into Texas and we weren't really happy with where we were running - so we sat down and said we've got to make some changes and that's what we did. Sometimes change is good and sometimes change is bad. I'm really excited this year about the change in structure and working with Brad."
CAN YOU KEEP FROM POKING YOUR HEAD UNDER THE HOOD AND GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY? "No. That's still gonna happen. I'm still gonna have my head under the hood and get my hands dirty, but now if the 88 car is running great and the 38 is struggling a little bit, I can go over and spend time with them. I can listen on the radio to what the two teams are doing. Even last year I tried at times to help the other team, but it's hard because it took concentration off of the 88 car. Now I'm gonna be able to float between both teams and do whatever we have to do to make both of them a winning organization."
BRAD MENTIONED BUDDY. IS HE GOING TO BE HOVERING AROUND? "That's something new to me. Dad is in Naples, Florida right now riding motorcycles and in the motorhome with mom, so I don't know anything about that. I've been down the street at the chassis shop building cars and hanging bodies, so I haven't been in this shop very much at all - just for meetings and stuff like that. So I don't know everything that's going on."
BRAD PARROTT, Crew Chief - No. 88 UPS Taurus:
"It's pretty easy to work with Todd. More people think he's focussed and I know where his focus comes from. I know what he's thinking and I know what his next move is and that's why we won a lot of races with Dale over the years. I kind of missed that last year, even though I was out doing a Busch deal. It was truly just a Busch deal and now this is Winston Cup. I have Doug and Todd and Raymond to go to, but it's about me organizing the guys that work under me on the road. We're structured into an offensive battle, basically. My shop guy is gonna make the shop calls. My engineer is gonna help make calls and we kind of took it off Todd's shoulders and put it on about four of our shoulders. It's gonna be more of a team call with the 88 car, instead of just the one. We all get this from Buddy Parrott. We miss him. You might hear from him later on this year coming back here or something."
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU? "I can't even tell you about the excitement. I guess I'm gonna have to show you how the excitement when we go to Daytona, when we go to Rockingham and when we go to Atlanta because we're here focussed on winning every race that we go to and we're here focussed on winning the championship. That's what Winston Cup racing is all about, winning that Winston Cup championship. If we don't go and win every race, at the end of the year we're gonna be contending for that Winston Cup championship because it's in the people here, it's in the heart and it's in the driver. It's all about finding the balance between the driver and the team and the car and the track and we're gonna have that every week."
WHAT ABOUT THE SUPPORT SYSTEM HERE? "We have unlimited resources here at Robert Yates Racing. The guys are focussed on each individual part and how to make this race team better. Todd is focussed on the chassis and the car builds. Doug is focussed on managing as far as making sure we get the parts and pieces, and to make sure we have all the tools we need to work with. It's my job, as far as the road crew and the pit crew, under one area of leading the team into battle so we can go and win us a championship."
HOW IS IT TO HAVE A TEAM LIKE THIS TO CREW CHIEF? "It's pretty special. I remember my dad, when he was 35 years old he got his first opportunity with an unknown guys named Farrell Harris and he was a two-man garage. Now here I am crew chiefing 160 people going into the 2003 season. If I hadn't been in racing for the last 17 years, I would have said this is pretty big, but this has been my goal - to get to a championship team. You cannot win a championship without a championship driver and I've got that with Dale Jarrett."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR PREVIOUS CREW CHIEF EXPERIENCES AT THE 32 CUP TEAM AND 9 BUSCH TEAM? "The 32 experience was basically dealing with a driver that didn't have experience and hadn't been in Winston Cup racing a long time. I tried to show the basics of the race car, the anatomy of the race car, trying to get them to understand why you don't put bent pieces on a race car and they were doing that. I went there and straightened some stuff out and we got a top 10 finish at Indianapolis, but things just didn't jell. Scott (Pruett) wanted more of the engineering-type of crew chief and I didn't jell with that, so I chose to come back here. When I went to Roush Racing, I did my own setups and set up my own race cars. Now I come back here and I don't get to set up race cars anymore, but I do lead them and show them how I want them set up. What all leads back to a fast car on the race track is how the car was set up. How long did it take you? Three hours or did it take you nine hours? The nine-hour project that I'm on is pretty extensive as far as not missing a piece of that race car when it goes on the race track."
RAYMOND FOX, Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus:
"I'm really looking forward to working with Elliott and M&M's. We've worked together with DJ on and off, but, hopefully, now it'll be more as two teams working hard together to win races. I'm looking forward to working with Todd and Brad and I'm looking forward to going to Daytona and walking through the gate knowing that we've got a good winter of preparing behind us. We're looking forward to all of them, but the Daytona 500 is like our Super Bowl, so we're looking forward to going there and working as two teams together. Hopefully, we can both come out on top with either the 88 winning or the 38 winning. It'll be a good challenge for both of us and a good start for both of us to begin the season."
WHAT'S IT LIKE WORKING WITH ELLIOTT? "He's a lot of fun to be around. He brings a smile out of everybody in the shop when he's in here and that just brings the team closer. That's what I like about him. I'm sort of a nervous person as far as thinking a lot and worrying about a lot of stuff that I don't need to worry about and he sort of eases that because he's always teasing me."
HOW DO YOU WANT TO TRY AND KEEP HIM FROM GETTING INTO TROUBLE ON THE TRACK? "I just want to make him think smarter, especially during the race. If someone is pushing him too hard, let him go and try to get him back at the end of the race. Don't push the issue early. Look towards the end of the race, instead of racing at the beginning like it's the end."
WHAT DOES IT DO WHEN HE SAYS HE WANTS TO WIN A TITLE THIS YEAR? "That makes it tough, but that's what I want to do too. I think if everybody works hard at that, it will come together. If we win the championship, that will be one thing that we said we wanted to do and did it."
DO ALL THESE RESOURCES MAKE IT EASIER? "You can look at it either way. The way I look at it is it's an opportunity for me and Elliott to go out there and really make a name for ourselves. If we really work hard at doing that and show M&M's what they want, it'll be a great year."
DO YOU FEEL THE WAY YOU PERFORMED AFTER FATBACK LEFT HELPED YOU GET THIS OPPORTUNITY? "I hope it wasn't based on what Doug saw last year and more of what he's seen since 1990 when I started doing this. I feel like I've worked to get where I'm at today. Brad has worked hard to get where he's at today. Hopefully, that's what they looked at. I think everybody is behind me. If you walk through this shop today and you've been here as long as I have, they're smiling and joking with each other. The emotions people have going into this year are really high and I try to involve everybody into making a decision and then I make the final one. It's a group effort and that's the way I've been working it and I think everybody is excited about it."
DO YOU FEEL PEOPLE ARE UNDERESTIMATING THIS TEAM? "They can underestimate whatever. It's Robert Yates Racing and M&M's that has to be behind us and I think everybody is. I think Elliott is behind me and I'm surely behind him and I'm looking forward to having a great year. I'm not saying, yeah, we're gonna win every race out there, but we're gonna try our hardest to go out there and win races."
ELLIOTT THINKS YOU CAN WIN THE 500? "Yeah, I think we can go out and win every single one of them, but it's the right situation that you're in. I think going out there and trying the hardest you can try will bring it all up to the top."