Topics: Jim Yates
May 2, 2007
Jim Yates, a veteran racer of Pontiac, is optimistic and excited about the new race program of the company. He said, “I am used to competing at the top.” Yates even does continue, “The only way to continue to do that is to find the proper funding.”
Yates added, “Rather than stay out here surviving on a shoestring budget, trying to get to the next race, and not being able to afford the people, the parts and the things we need to be competitive, our attitude right now as a team, is perhaps we need to take a step back. I am confident, that given this situation, if we focus all of our energies on searching for funding instead of racing, when we do come back in a week, a month, or a year, we can go out there and compete at the highest level.”
As the 23-race NHRA POWERade tour departs from the Atlanta Dragway and moves outside St. Louis at the Gateway International Raceway for next weekend’s event, Yates finds himself at a racing crossroad. This situation, involving the search for the very precious source of funding, has bothered several drivers before.
As a fact, funding is deemed the lifeblood of any professional racer. This is why Yates is looking forward to having precious funding. The veteran racer remained upbeat and optimistic as he prepares his Pontiac GTO for a racetrack where he has had success in the past when he was able to best Allen Johnson for the win in 1999 as well as finishing as a runner-up to Warren Johnson both in 1997 and 2001.
The two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion noted, “I think that we have some great opportunities in the future and my plan is to explore every one of them - hopefully without missing a beat, or a race. Contrary to some reports, I’m not quitting or retiring,” Yates said. “I want to race, (son) Jamie wants to race, (wife) Toni wants to race, Grumpy (engine builder Bill Jenkins) wants to race. We love to race and we think we have something good together. Unfortunately, not only do you need half-inch wrenches in your toolbox, you also need money in your toolbox. It’s no secret that to run at the winning level of Pro Stock it takes the proper funding and in the past we have proven that we’ve got the talent to run with the best cars out here.”
Yates added, “We had some very positive opportunities lined up at the end of last year, but, unfortunately they just didn’t work out. As a result, it left our program in a hole financially. We still love what we are doing and we are still the same talented team that has won POWERade championships and national event races in the past. Bill (Jenkins) continues to improve the horsepower in our engines every week and our new Pontiac GTO is working better than ever. We’re really excited about our program and the potential we have and we’d love to have the money to stay out here and race.”
“My plan is not to go home, sell our race cars, sell our tractortrailer and go get a job. But if we don’t have the finances to come out here and race at the level we’re used to, then we’re going to go home, park our stuff and spend seven days a week looking for a sponsor so that we can come out here and once again take our place among the top Pro Stock teams in the country. Unfortunately, you need money to race with the top teams; talent only goes so far,” Yates continued.
“We’ve been in a good position with the six-race program we had with Sea Ray Boats and WileyX Eyewear, and we’ve got that extended for a couple more races, which is really good for us,” Yates added. “Beyond that we’ve got three deals working that could carry us through to the end of the year. I’ve been working really hard on an exciting program for next year, and we’re probably thirty days from finding out if that’s going to happen, but unfortunately, no one has signed on the dotted line yet.”
Yates’ resume, as powerful as the EBC brake rotors, is among the Pro Stock pits. He has been racing sixteen years, has finished in the top five of the POWERade points eight times and finished in the top ten fourteen times. Yates also has won 25 races, been a runner-up 33 times, has won two POWERade championships, and qualified at No. 1 at 29 events.
He concluded, "We are very optimistic about our opportunities but we’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach for the next few weeks. As a team we expect to come out here, qualify in the top half of the field, win rounds on raceday and be in the ‘Countdown’ by Indy. We had a really great season last year. Our objective this year is to be in a position where we’re able to compete as a top-half car and win rounds and win races.”