Don’t be fooled by the fact that the road to the pinnacle of drag racing’s Pro Stock
category is traveled only one quarter-mile at a time. It still takes a long time
to reach the top every year.
This is the path Jim Yates has chosen to follow. Drag racing is his profession and
he recognizes the inherent roadblocks, potholes, bumps and simple bad road that lie
ahead. Winning the Full Throttle championship in what is regarded as the most competitive
of NHRA’s professional categories takes hard work, determination, dedication and
a passion to prevail. Yates has an abundance of all of those qualities, as his record
Over the past 18 years, Yates has won two Full Throttle Pro Stock Championships,
finished in the Top 2 five times, the Top 5 eight times and the Top 10 fourteen times.
He has won 25 NHRA National Events and finished runner-up at an additional 33 events
to date and captured 29 poles. His quickest elapsed time is 6.568 and his fastest
speed is 209.85 MPH.
After earning his mechanical engineering degree from the University of Maryland,
Jim worked as a patent examiner in the art of clutches and transmissions at the US
Patent Office and Trademark office. In 1977 he decided to go into the auto parts
business and eventually grew Yates Auto Parts to a successful chain of 23 stores
and an automotive warehouse in the DC area. Yates decided to sell his business in
2000 to devote his full time and attention to NHRA drag racing.
Helping Jim along the way has been his family, who has played a big part in his success,
both on and off the racetrack. Toni, his wife, as team manager is the heart of the
command center for the Wiley X/Sea Ray Boats Pontiac GXP. Toni’s role with the race
team is multifaceted. She not only handles all of the administrative duties, she
is also a valuable part of the crew.
Jamie Yates, who has served as his dad’s crew chief since 2002, has recently handed
over the crew chief duties to his brother Jon. Jamie has been involved with the
family race team since he was old enough to hold a tool. Jamie also holds has Pro
Stock license and has competed with his father as a two-car team on several occasions.
He has recently returned to the University of Maryland to continue his education
in Mechanical Engineering.
Jon Yates assumed the role as crew chief for his father’s race team in 2008 after
graduating from Clemson University with a Mechanical Engineering degree. Jon’s role
takes on many facets with primary emphasis in the strategy and tuning of Jim’s Pontiac
Melissa, a sports marketing major from Clemson University has worked as part of the
crew in the past. For the past three years, however, she has worked for Wiley X
as the Director of Sports Marketing and is involved in every aspect of the Wiley
X Eyewear sports marketing program.
Jim’s NHRA racing career began in the bracket classes at Maryland International Raceway
when he was just 16 years old. His first NHRA Pro Stock event was in Gainesville,
FL in 1989.
* 2008: Earned a semifinal finish at Las Vegas 1
* 2007: Posted career-best time and speed; Earned three semifinal finishes in
Phoenix, Englishtown and Memphis
* 2006: Earned 14th career finish in the POWERade Series top 10; Drove to the
winner’s circle in Columbus; Posted career-best time and speed
* 2005: Earned career-best time and speed; Earned runner-up finish in Reading
* 2004: Advanced to a semifinal round finish at Gainesville
* 2003: Finished in the top 10 for the 10th consecutive season and 12th time
overall; established career-best numbers for time and speed
* 2002: Qualified No. 1 seven times; Earned one win in three final round appearances
* 2001: Won NHRA King Demon Crown bonus race for Pro Stock; Qualified No. 1 at
four events; Advanced to five final rounds winning once (Atlanta)
* 2000: Qualified No. 1 at two events; Failed to win a national event for the
first time since the 1993 season
* 1999: Became the fifth member of the Speed Pro 200-mph Pro Stock Club with
a 200.11-mph run at Richmond; Captured two event titles (St. Louis, Sonoma)
* 1998: Advanced to the final round at first three events, winning the title
at Pomona 1
* 1997: Won a career-best nine events en route to second consecutive Pro Stock
crown; Won the NHRA King Demon Crown bonus event
* 1996: Led the Pro Stock point standings the entire season en route to first
NHRA championship; Won three consecutive races twice
* 1995: Qualified No. 1 for first time in career (Brainerd); Finished second
in the Pro Stock points
* 1994: Earned first career victory by defeating Mark Osborne (Brainerd)
* 1992: Advanced to first career final (Pomona 1)
* 1991: Finished in the Pro Stock top 10 for first time in career