A popular Colorado driver has produced a two-decade record of success in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Bruce Yackey, 43, of Greeley, Colo., won his third consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Colorado state championship in 2009. He competes at Colorado National Speedway">Colorado National Speedway, a Denver-area NASCAR short-track showcase.
Yackey began racing at the .375-mile oval in 1989 when the track was converted to asphalt from dirt. He promptly won his first Colorado National track championship in the Sportsman division before making the switch to NASCAR Late Models a year later. He finished second in his NASCAR regional points race in 1996 before winning the regional championship in 1997. In all, he has six Colorado National Late Model division championships.
“I started racing the year I graduated from high school in 1984,” Yackey said. “My dad, Clarence, had raced, so it was something I wanted to do. I raced in Wyoming for five years, and then switched to Colorado National Speedway when it was paved in 1989.
“Rick Carelli was the top guy back then,” Yackey said with a note of pride in his voice.
Carelli, also from the Denver area, was known as “The High Plains Drifter” in his racing days. From Colorado, Carelli eventually won the NASCAR Camping World Series West championship in 1993. A former competitor in all three NASCAR national series and a four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, Carelli is now general manager for Kevin Harvick Inc.
While Carelli was a racing “drifter” in that he didn’t focus on track points races, Yackey has had to compete for race wins and championships with plenty of great drivers over the years at Colorado National. Drivers who captured NASCAR regional championships racing at Colorado include Roger Avants and Jerry Robertson, who have eight Colorado National track championships between them. Yackey's 2009 championship broke his tie for the track record he held with Avants.
Yackey’s racing program is the picture of stability, which the driver credits for much of his success. General Air and Service Supply has been his primary sponsor for 17 years, and his crew has been together for a very long time as well. The effort is also sponsored by Peterson Fluid Systems.
In addition, Yackey is the owner/operator of Greeley Automotive Machine (GAM), an engine-building and machine shop. Yackey-built engines are represented in just about every division at Colorado National, including the NASCAR Late Model division.
With his NASCAR state championship, Yackey and his wife, Christi, have been invited to attend the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 13.
“We appreciate the opportunity NASCAR gives us to compete for state and national points,” Yackey said. “The banquets are always special events. Joe Kosiski (the 1986 NWAAS national champion) taught me something a long time ago. He said we should always go to the banquet if we’re fortunate enough to be invited, because you never know if you’ll be in a position to be invited again. That makes us appreciate the accomplishment even more.”
A really happy birthday for Brian Yackey
After finishing second to Eddy McKean for the 1996 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional championship, Bruce Yackey redoubled his efforts to try to win the title in 1997. The work was worth it. Yackey rebounded to win a championship he coveted.
The summer of 1997 had a special significance for Yackey and his wife, Christi, and it had nothing to do with racing. They were expecting their first child.
With their pediatrician’s permission, the Yackeys decided to take the adventure to the series awards ceremony, then held in Nashville, Tenn., in early November. As a regional champion, the Yackeys were able to enjoy several days of special activities leading up to banquet night.
Little did anyone know how special the Yackey’s adventure to Nashville would be.
The day before the banquet, Christi unexpectedly went into labor, delivering first-born son Brian in a Nashville hospital.
During introductions of special guests at the following night’s banquet, a stunned crowd jumped to their feet in ovation. Christi and Brian had been released from the hospital. Less than 24 hours after giving birth, Christi was able to briefly attend the banquet ceremonies, and received a resounding welcome.
“It was a wild experience,” Bruce said. “We didn’t plan it that way. We won a championship and had our first-born child at the same time. He’ll be 12 this year, and Brian’s birthday still comes around banquet time.”
The Yackey family has since expanded to include Brett, 9, and Heather, 6.
Below, Bruce Yackey celebrates another successful season at Colorado National.