Yates' love of Indy spans decades: Robert Yates, owner of the No. 38 and No. 88 entries driven by Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett, respectively, is one of the most recognized, most successful and respected team owners in the history of NASCAR ...
Yates' love of Indy spans decades: Robert Yates, owner of the No. 38 and No. 88 entries driven by Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett, respectively, is one of the most recognized, most successful and respected team owners in the history of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. He is passionate about the sport.
It is widely known that he is a two-time winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Jarrett in 1996 and 1999.
What is not so well known is his passion for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway even though NASCAR has been part of the 94-year old track's fabric only since 1994, and that he nearly participated in Indy-style open-wheel racing early in his career.
With the 10th running of the Brickyard 400 coming up on Aug. 3, Yates took a few minutes to discuss his thoughts about the Speedway and its history:
"It's still incredible. It's still a place - when you walk in here and walk through the buildings, about every step you make you think about the guys that walked in the same footprint. It's pretty awesome. When you're walking around the perimeter of this place on the street - we don't have any other place like this that we race. Growing up, when I got involved in racing, it wasn't any kind of plan. I guess I tripped and fell into it as a job.
It happened to be at home, where I lived. I got a job at (the) Holman-Moody (team) in '67, and it's been good to me, and I guess I've been good to it, too. I had Roger Penske call me quite a few times because I actually did some work for him a few times on some Chevrolet stuff. (He) wanted me to come to (do) Indy engines.
I actually did work on the pushrod engines (with Andy Granatelli), and it was like that would be it. That would really be getting uptown to get to do the Indy stuff. I actually tried to get my wife to move to Reading, Pa., to do some work with Roger, and she wouldn't do that. It was probably in '76 or '77.
Not that I ever thought that NASCAR was lower than this other technology, but this is it. Daytona Beach to us, we're proud of it, but there was something about Indianapolis. When we pulled in here for the first test (in 1992), it was an incredible experience. This place is different, too. This is about going fast in a straight line and whipping it through a corner and getting it back up to rpm and whipping through another corner. This is unique. We pretty much have two turns at the tracks we run. This is four.
The history and the heritage is really what it's about. I was in the Army, and I was here at Fort Benjamin (Harrison) in school, and I came over here and paid a quarter, I believe, to ride around here in a van. Probably 1964 or '65. To me, that was the only place in the world to go. I couldn't think of any other place I wanted to go. I always watched the Indy 500, and then the World 600 cranked up a little bit after that. I keep in touch with it, although I'm usually working on our car at the '600.' But to be here, and have our position here, and to have the fans fill this place up, it's awesome."