The Influential Four Fathers Even though the term "NASCAR Dad" has been used on the political front to describe a growing trend of fathers taking their children to NASCAR races, the NASCAR Dad has been around for many years. NASCAR ...
The Influential Four Fathers
Even though the term "NASCAR Dad" has been used on the political front to describe a growing trend of fathers taking their children to NASCAR races, the NASCAR Dad has been around for many years. NASCAR features several generational racing families and NASCAR Dads have deep roots in the NASCAR garage. Four key players on the #38 M&M'S and Robert Yates Racing organization share the same last names of their famous forefathers. Crew chief Todd Parrott, Raymond Fox III, engine builder Doug Yates and driver Elliott Sadler have followed in the footsteps and shared some of the same successes of the original generation of their NASCAR Dads.
Todd Parrott grew up in the shadow of greatness. His father Buddy, now retired from turning wrenches in the NASCAR garage, was one of the greatest crew chiefs of all time. As a child, Todd traveled with his father to different race tracks around the country. He would spend his Sunday afternoons at any given track in the infield playing football with the likes of Kyle Petty and Davey Allison while their fathers raced around the perimeters. It was a way of life and when Todd was old enough racing caught his interest to where he aspired to become a crew chief just like his Dad.
Buddy has since retired. He divides his time between his grandchildren, his Harley Davidson collection and being a support system to his successful champion crew chief son.
The upbringings of the four next generation racers had many things in common - the main thing was a result of the time demands NASCAR had on their fathers' lives - much of the time they did spend with their fathers was at a racetrack.
That's where Raymond Fox III spent a big portion of his childhood. Just like his father, Raymond Fox II and grandfather Raymond Fox, who was recently inducted into the Motorsports Hall Of Fame, Raymond seemed destined to work on cars.
"Growing up, 95 percent of the time I spent with my Dad was at the race shop," said Fox III. "I played football in high school and my Dad never saw a game because he was racing. He passed away when I was 17 and that was when I had to grow up fast. I decided to make racing my career because my Dad chose it to be his. I will support my children in whatever career path they decide to pursue, but we want them to both go to college first."
Raymond's father passed away in 1990 when the younger Fox was only 17. Raymond now lives the dream he and his father both shared. The greatest advice his father ever gave him was to aim high in racing - aim to be a crew chief or a driver. His father was a mentor and inspiration to Raymond in his life and after his death.
Sacrifice is another common theme in racing families. It is something that can be great when fueling your child's dream to race but Herman Sadler didn't blink an eye to help his boys Elliott and Hermie.
Elliott grew up watching his father Herman and his uncles racing around the short tracks of southern Virginia. Like many fathers of successful racers, Herman set his hobby aside to focus on the dreams of his children. Both Hermie and Elliott Sadler started racing at an early age. Elliott's first go-kart race took the green flag at age seven. Although it was wonderful to watch his boys succeed and enjoy racing through the years - he was tough on them. Herman set parameters with the boys - they had to make certain grades or they would not be able to race on the weekends. The strategy paid off as Hermie graduated with a business degree from the University of North Carolina and Elliott had a wide selection of athletic scholarships to choose from. Elliott ended up choosing racing as his career but it is a sport in which families are tight and close by at all times.
"My Dad was a huge influence in my career," said Elliott. "He and my Mom are my biggest fans and they are always close by. I absolutely could not have made it to this point without their help. It's comforting to know they are always here at the track week in and week out supporting both Hermie and I. I know us being out there on the track tears up their nerves as parents because not only do they want us to be safe, but they want us to succeed. It's funny, I have been told that my Dad can't sit still during the races - he paces all over the place - and can't talk to anyone - he is too nervous. My Dad is a real big part of my life and I am so thankful for everything he has done for me over my life."
Doug Yates grew up the son of the greatest engine builder of all time - Robert Yates. As a child Doug quietly observed his busy dad while steeling as much time with him as possible. Growing up Doug aspired to be like his Dad. After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University, he went straight to work for his father. These days Doug burns the midnight oil alongside his Dad on a daily basis in their never-ending search for more horsepower.
With the exception of Sadler, Parrott, Yates and Fox each have two children- all boys - of their own. The six boys play ball and ride scooters in the infield together every Sunday while their fathers work on cars and race around its perimeters. It would be safe to say these third and fourth generation boys might be working on cars and calling races alongside their famous Dads on any given Sunday in the near future. The first names will be different but the last names remain the same as they have for almost 40 years in NASCAR.