CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - He wasn't known for his exploits behind the steering wheel, but for what he put in front of it to power some of NASCAR's greatest drivers to their biggest wins.
NASCAR Hall of Fame member and Charlotte native Robert Yates was remembered at a memorial service held on Friday at Hickory Grove Baptist Church.
Yates passed away on Monday after suffering from liver cancer.
He was a master engine builder and champion team owner in NASCAR, collecting 77 wins. He was the builder of the power plant that pushed Richard Petty to his 199th and 200th wins, and won the championship for Bobby Allison in 1983.
"Robert dedicated his life to the sport and became one of the best at what he did. He is a Hall of Fame owner and engine builder," Petty said. "Later in my career, I was fortunate enough to race with his engines. He helped power me to my 200th win at Daytona, a moment that I'll never forget. I'll always remember Robert for his hard work, but more importantly, his friendship."
"Robert Yates was a very, very dear friend of mine, the whole Yates family, Doug, Carolyn, and everybody," NASCAR legend Donnie Allison told WBTV. "We've all had deaths in our family, some of them a little premature maybe some of them, but Robert was as good as their ever was and he was as good for this sport as anybody ever has been."
As a team owner, Yates won three Daytona 500's and 57 races.
"He was very motivated and he wanted to succeed as bad as anyone I've ever been around. For a lot of them it was just a day's work and that's all they were interested in, but not him," said legendary NASCAR figure Waddell Wilson. "You know he was going to excel to the top and he put a lot of work into it."
Yates was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May.