CONCORD, N.C. — Legendary engine builder and team owner Robert Yates was honored with the North Carolina Motorsports Ass’n’s 14th annual Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award Tuesday night at the Embassy Suites.
More than 500 members of the racing community, including Yates’ family, friends and former coworkers ended the gala ceremony, which annually recognizes the best of the best in the North Carolina motorsports industry.
Yates, whose love affair with speed and motorsports began in the 1950s, got his start in NASCAR racing in 1968. He became one of the highest regarded engine builders in the business and later bought his own team and went on to win 57 races, including the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series championship with driver Dale Jarrett.
Yates and his son, Doug, joined with rival team owner Jack Roush to create Roush Yates Engines
Yates retired as a team owner in 2007 and died in 2017 following a battle with cancer. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame the following year.
Roush was on hand to present the Motorsports Tribute Award to Doug Yates, who accepted along with his mother, Carolyn.
“My dad and I were best friends,” Doug Yates said. “He talked and I listened. There are many people here tonight that were part of my dad’s success.
“Motorsports was the bond that brought us together. He was retired 10 years and we still talked about racing every day.”
More than 100 Roush Yates Racing employees and former Yates drivers Jarrett, Ernie Irvan and David Gilliland were among those in attendance.
Other guests included NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France, NASCAR President Mike Helton, Roush, former driver Donnie Allison, Hall of Famer Leonard Wood, Len Wood, Eddie Wood, Ford Performance’s Mark Rushbrook, H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, Brad Keselowski, Speedway Motorsports Marcus Smith and FOX announcer Mike Joy.
Previous winners of the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award are Bill France Jr., Benny Parsons, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress, Junior Johnson, O. Bruton Smith, Wheeler, the Ned Jarrett family, Helton, Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske, Roush and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Longtime Performance Racing Network announcer Doug Rice was recognized with Jim Hunter Memorial Media Award.
Motorsports Industry Awards were presented to BeSpoke Sports & Entertainment, United Race Parts, World Racing Group and Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing.
The night opened with the presentation of five North Carolina Motorsports Foundation scholarships.
Jacqueline Rumley received the Sam Belnavis Scholarship, while general scholarship recipients were Patrick Bounds, Mitchell Hedstrom, Brett Suggs and Mahfuja Akhuda.