Robert Yates - Ford interview 2010-01-12

This Week in Ford Racing January 12, 2010 Robert Yates, former owner of Robert Yates Racing, will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame Saturday night in Concord, NC. Yates, who is still staying active away...

This Week in Ford Racing
January 12, 2010

Robert Yates, former owner of Robert Yates Racing, will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame Saturday night in Concord, NC. Yates, who is still staying active away from the race track, recently spoke about his induction with Ford Racing.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING INDUCTED INTO THE NMPA HALL OF FAME THIS WEEKEND? "I guess when they told me I almost thought they were kidding me. I thought I would be about the last person that they would ever vote for. I don't know, I just always felt like I never said the right thing to them and was never maybe their friendliest person to talk to, even though I didn't intentionally want to be hard to deal with. I was just like, 'Wow, are you serious?' So I was definitely honored. I was busy working, trying to keep my mind away from racing because some days I really do almost cry about it. I miss it that much, and then some days I'm happy that I'm doing stuff. Only on those days that I'm busy doing new things is when I can get off of what I miss."

WHAT'S RETIRED LIFE LIKE AWAY FROM THE TRACK? "I love to be busy. I love to be working. I love to be able to have something to think about, like what I'm gonna do tomorrow when I'm laying there and can't sleep. I like to have a good plan. The other day I got home and I was dirty and greasy. I washed my clothes out in the laundry before Carolyn got home to see how dirty I was because I was working in a machine shop grinding and cutting and doing things. The weather has been pretty cold lately, but last summer I was riding tractors and bulldozers. I love it. I just love to be busy. It's like when I was building engines. When I got really organized, and I had four engines to assemble, I'd work until two in the morning and loved it."

SO ARE YOU JUST DOING THINGS AROUND YOUR HOME OR ARE YOU WORKING ON SOME PROJECTS? "I own this firm. I've been tearing fence out and posts out for a year and a half and now I'm starting to put it back, so I looked around for the best way to put a post in when I started drilling in concrete and then I saw this unit, which is a hammer that is much better to use, so I bought one of them and now I'm trying to build a better one, so we're building and marketing a post-driver, which is basically a hammer. It'll do a guard rail, docks, and farmland. It'll do up to a 14-foot post, so it's something that with all the new laws with deer along the highway, we think it's gonna be a good market, so we jumped in and we're setting up dealers and we've got a lot of stuff to build, so I'm busy."

YOU AND JUNIOR JOHNSON ARE NEIGHBORS. IS HE A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER? "I think Junior's place is full of everything you can possibly put out there. I know he leases a lot of other land, but we're right next door. Of course, one day I was out there cutting hay and I looked over there and there was Junior over there cutting hay. That was pretty cool. When I come down the Johnson Highway, I feel like I was a piece of that."

SO WHEN PEOPLE ASK THE QUESTION, 'WHERE DO RETIRED NASCAR OWNERS GO WHEN THEY RETIRE?' THE ANSWER WILL BE WILKES COUNTY NORTH CAROLINA? "One thing I never really got to do was to actually run a bulldozer. I worked on them, but I didn't know much about farm life, so I'm getting myself more well-rounded and I certainly have a greater appreciation for farmers now. It's hard work, but there's nothing better than a good day's hard work. It's what I love doing. Do I miss racing? Yes. I really miss the days when I could really contribute and figure things out. As time went on I lost my jobs. I couldn't jump over the wall, jack the car, change the tire. Now what? Then as you go along you don't really do anything and you go in the office, and I don't like that. I enjoy the cars running good on the track, but you don't really need a stopwatch because it's all timed electronically. You don't have any contribution, so I miss the good days and certainly I miss Indianapolis and the Daytona 500 and Charlotte, but to be voted into the NMPA Hall of Fame was a real surprise to me because I just didn't think I was a guy anyone really wanted to talk to or even knew I was here. I'm honored. I wish I would have spent more time with them and been nicer to them."

HOW CLOSELY DO YOU FOLLOW NASCAR THESE DAYS? "I try to be busy on Sunday when there's a race because otherwise I'll watch, and I still feel all of that stress when the race is going on, and I don't even have anything to do with it. My son has a lot to do with it. I want the Fords to run good, but I still have that stress. So if I don't watch it, I'll call Doug up after the race is over and say, 'How did it go?' It actually works better for me because I can go off and do something. But if I'm not busy and it's cold weather and it's raining or whatever, and I can't get away from it, I turn the TV on. But you know what I catch myself doing? I watch the left- front wheel, and what adjustments they make on the cars. I actually called Jack up a couple of months ago and told him, 'Jack, if you don't get those cars running any better, I'm gonna have to help you and come and fix your cars. I know I can do that.' But when I start watching it on TV, I go back to those same stresses I had when I was there in person."

WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT ON SEEING THE YATES RACING NAME TIED TO RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS? "In 1963 when I went to Daytona to see Junior Johnson race, Richard Petty won and I was happy I was there. I've always liked Richard Petty. When I painted my first go kart it had 43 on it and it was blue, so to be associated with the King is great. However, not being associated with racing such as I am today, it doesn't mean a whole lot to me, but the fact Doug is building their engines, I think that's wonderful. If somebody had to take our place, I'm glad it's Richard Petty. The King has found a new home at Ford and I know he's going to enjoy that part of it."

-source: ford racing

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About this article
Drivers Richard Petty , Junior Johnson , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing