Posted by: Jim Yates

Excitement, excitement, and more excitement …that's what life in the Yates family has been filled with for the past month!  It all started on February 8th at 10:20 am when little Nicolina May Civali finally blessed us with her presence!  Little "Lena" (named after my Mom) was 8 days late and as Melissa put it, entered this world on her terms, taking her sweet time getting here.  She weighed in at 8 pounds and 9 ounces, was 21" long and is a beautiful, healthy baby girl.  Thankfully, she, Mommy and Daddy are doing great. 

As you know, Toni had gone to Melissa's the last week in January as they had anticipated that Lena would arrive at that time.  Every day I would call for an update and every day the answer was still the same…Melissa feels great and no other developments.  I was beginning to worry that she wouldn't get here before I had to leave for Pomona (I mean, really???) As it was she arrived on the 8th and I flew to Vegas to test on the 10th.  I was so excited that I was able to be there for Lena's arrival.  

Melissa sends pictures every day and I can't believe how fast she is growing…I can't wait to get back down for another visit.  I guess we have really been spoiled having Ryan and Maia living so close.  We get to see them all the time and get to be a part of their daily lives so this will be an adjustment for us.  Not to worry, I heard Toni talking about our next trip just yesterday so I will wait to get my updated itinerary real soon.  You know being a PopPop is a really tough job. 

After the excitement of baby Lena it was time to head to Vegas for a quick test session and then to Pomona.  I know that the entire Johnson and Johnson organization was ready to get the Mello Yellow racing season underway and the "team" was not disappointed with the results of the first race in Pomona.  We struggled the first couple of qualifying runs with AJ's and Jeggie's car but rebounded nicely on Saturday and Sunday. 

Unfortunately, having a three car team, only two cars can possibly advance to the final and though we were disappointed that AJ eventually lost, we were very excited that the final in Pomona was once again two Roy Johnson powered Mopars with Vincent collecting his first Wally of the year over Jeg.  Needless to say, it was a very busy weekend!

After the race in Pomona, instead of flying back and forth across country, Toni and I decided to stay in Phoenix for a couple of days at one of our favorite Marriott resorts.  Though the weather was a little chilly it was still nice to take a couple of days to "chill out" (no pun intended LOL) and regroup before our next race began in beautiful, sunny, warm Chandler, Ariz. 

Well, the beautiful and sunny part was there but warm…not so much!  The temps stayed in the 50's and 60's and made for some fast ET's and some great racing.  Unfortunately, our team didn't fare as well at this race with all three drivers ending their day after 2nd round but all and all we still had a great weekend.  Three drivers, three teams and three crews all working together each run is really pretty awesome and I'm loving every minute of it! 

Monday morning it was back to the east coast and I hit the ground running.  The demolition/reconstruction project at our warehouse was to begin on Tuesday morning and at 6:30 am the first two crews arrived at the property.  This week we are working with electrical and plumbing crews to remove all of the unnecessary wires and water lines in order for us to move the project forward.  As soon as they complete this phase of the project, we will move forward into tearing down some of the existing interior walls – when that is completed the rebuilding will begin.  

Toni and I are really excited to finally have the warehouse rented and even more excited that when this project is finished we will have a beautiful, state of the art, building which will accommodate three separate tenants.  It isn't going to be easy, but all of the hard work will be worth it in the end.  Our goal is to have everything completed by June and the tenants all moved in before I leave for the western swing.  Luckily I have a great general contractor who is handling everything but you know me, I have to be involved if I am not on the road racing! 

It won't be long before I am on the road racing again.  We will be testing at least two of the cars in Bradenton the week of Gainesville.  I think that most of the pro stock cars will be there.  It is such a great opportunity to test some final combinations before heading to one of my favorite races, the Gatornationals. 

Besides breaking in some tires, Mark and I have a long list of things we would like to test so I can't wait to get some great testing in while enjoying the beautiful springtime weather in sunny, warm Gainesville, Florida.  Now, we only have to hope that Mother Nature get's the memo that we are counting on awesome weather and sunny skies to make our Gatornational's complete…well a Wally wouldn't be bad either.  Just saying!  Have a great week everyone and thanks for checking in!


The Coutndowns are onMonday, January 28, 2013
Posted by: Toni Yates

Hi all! Toni here, once again filling in for Jim as he is…you guessed it…on his way to another test session. Now let's see if I’ve got this right; fly to Bradenton and enjoy 3 days of testing in an 82 degree climate or stay here and struggle with subzero temps, snow, wind and ice storms? No wonder he was so excited to get on that plane this morning! LOL

The Team's last test session netted some great results. Each car made about 15 runs and everyone was really happy with the overall outcome. Of course they will test at least one or two more times before heading west but if there is one thing this Team likes to do – that's test! This session in Bradenton will be a little more slow-paced than the last one as Mark, Jim and the team will be focused on fine tuning only Jeg's Mopar. Jim and Mark had a complete list of "things to do" when they left and by the time they meet up in Bradenton I can only imagine how many more items will have been added.

Jim has been working really hard on our real estate projects since he got home last week and things look like they are finally coming together. We are hoping to have some leases finalized in the near future and that will be a great thing for us. We still have a long way to go but things are at least moving in the right direction. 

Other than real estate projects and testing, this family really hasn't been up to much. We are all still anxiously waiting for the ever important phone call from Melissa and Joey that baby Civali is finally on her way, but as of a few hours ago that wasn't happening. Melissa is within four days of her due date and though she feels great she is really ready to deliver this baby. I think the term she used was that she felt like a cargo plane! Now I will clarify that she looks awesome and has gained hardly any weight so I'm not sure that cargo plane is the right term, but I can understand that she is ready to get this show on the road soon. Of course, Granma and PopPop can't wait for the big day either. Jim told her that she now has to wait until the end of the week so that he can finish testing before she has the baby. Not sure that she was going to agree to that one! LOL

As you can probably tell, this is the time of year when everyone in motorsports is 150 percent focused on getting ready for the opening of the 2013 season and this team is no exception. So, other than testing, (and waiting for a new baby girl!) there really isn't much else to report. I just double-checked the "Countdown to Launch" at www.nhra.com and I can't believe that it said 16 days until Pomona! Oh boy, almost time to go racing! Be sure to check back soon because I'll hopefully be posting some pictures of new baby girl Civali! Thanks for checking in!

A happy but busy off-seasonThursday, January 17, 2013
Posted by: Toni Yates

Happy New Year everyone! I know it has been a while since we have posted a blog - I kept waiting for Jim to be home long enough to write one, but that doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon so I decided to fill in for him and update everyone on what has been happening in the Yates family. The Christmas holidays in our household seem to fly by in a whirlwind of fun, excitement and cherished family time. As Jim told you before, all of the kids were home for the holidays and we also hosted our Yates family Christmas Eve celebration and everyone had an awesome time. All of my family home, lots of presents, too much food and the joy of experiencing the wonders of Christmas through the eyes of a 4 and 2 year old - it was priceless.

As a special treat, this year Jim decided that he was going to be responsible for preparing Christmas morning breakfast with the help of Melissa and Joey. He decided that he was going to make his Mom's famous recipe of Pancakes and Sausage Gravy. (However I think he got a few hints from Southern Living Cookbook along the way!) Ok, now I know what you are thinking...sausage gravy goes with biscuits...we had those too but his Mom always made pancakes so that was what he was making. First off, I have to inform you, that other than throwing some meat or veggies on the grill, Jimbo isn't exactly a kitchen guru! He can tune a mean race car but when it comes to preparing a meal...well not so much! LOL

Anyway, the day before off to the grocery store he goes to stock up on his supplies. He purchases fresh bulk sausage from the local market, gets several different types of pancake mixes and syrups...you can't have too many options you know...researched the buttermilk biscuit recipes and then decided to just use the store bought since "they really didn't go with his meal anyway" and finished off his list with extra butter, jam, and even some orange juice. Of course being the experienced chef that he is, if a little is good a lot is even better so he had enough supplies to feed a small army!

Well, Christmas morning came, my dad arrived, Jon and Alli were already here and Jim and Joey got to work with Melissa playing prep chef. If you have ever seen the intensity on Jim's face when he is standing behind AJ's car on the starting line it didn't hold a candle his look of concentration while preparing his Christmas feast and Joey was right there with him. Jon, Alli, Dad and I just sat back, sipped our drinks and enjoyed the show - it was really classic. Of course he then had to instruct everyone on how to properly consume pancakes and sausage gravy which included butter, syrup and gravy. Joey was a little skeptical about this process but in the end admitted that it was one of the best breakfast meals he had ever had. It was too bad that Jamie, Cynthy and the kids missed the show but we saved them some of the leftovers (a maybe a couple of videos) to sample when they came over later that day. We have all decided that this is now going to be a new Christmas morning tradition - especially since I don't have to cook! LOL

Even though Christmas was behind us there was still some celebrations left in our family. Maia turned 2 years old and what fun it was to have a small family get together to celebrate her big day. It is hard to believe that she is already 2 years old! In addition, Jim and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary and did so with a quiet weekend away in Old Town Alexandria. Though it was close to home, we still had a great time enjoying Old Town and pretending we were actually on "vacation".

With the excitement of Christmas behind us and the new year beginning it was time to turn our attention to the upcoming racing season. Though Jim and the guys have been testing and staying hard at work since they left Pomona, everything kicked up a few notches after the holidays. Jim left on New Year's Day to pick up the newly wrapped race rig and bring it back to the shop and since, the team has been working non-stop every week getting things ready for the new season. As I write this, AJ, Vincent, and Jeg are currently on their fourth day of testing in Bradenton, FL. From what I hear things are going pretty well. They have been making good runs, the track has been awesome and I know that the weather is way better than it is here in Virginia - especially since the pending snowstorm is just hours away. Hopefully the weatherman will be wrong about how much snow we will actually get. One can only wish!

Jim was really looking forward to testing this week. It was the first time that all three teams were testing together and everyone was excited to try out some new things that they have developed over the winter months. Since Jim's phone is always in a "dead zone" when he gets to Bradenton, I don't hear much from him during the day but I did get to see some great pictures that Bryan Epps posted on Competition Plus. If you get a chance, check them out. It sure makes me wish I was there, that is for sure! Originally they had talked of coming home tomorrow but I heard that they may stay an extra day just to make sure that they accomplish everything that they had planned to do. They will then take all of the data from the three car team, analyze the results and come up with a game plan for the next test session. I can't believe that Pomona is so close!

As you can see it has been a very happy but busy "off season" for this very busy family and there is still plenty of excitement to look forward to in the next week or so. Melissa is within two weeks of her due date and we are just waiting for the call that little baby girl Civali is on her way! I've got my bags packed and my "office" loaded in a crate, the oil changed in the truck and I'm ready to head to Charlotte when the time comes. If Melissa has it her way, she will have the baby in the next week so that she can be back to work at her desk before the Sprint Cup race at Daytona and before Jim and I have to be at the NHRA race in Pomona. Now that is what I call a racing family! Only time will tell when we will finally be blessed with our third grandbaby. As long as baby Civali and Melissa are both healthy, all that other stuff doesn't really mean anything does it?

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful 2013, I know we are. Keep checking back as I will post as soon as I have some news on Melissa's big day as well as some test results from this week's test session. I can't believe that Pomona is only a short 27 days away! I don't know about you but I am sure ready to go racing again! Thanks for checking in everyone!

Tis the seasonWednesday, December 19, 2012
Posted by: Jim Yates

Ho…ho…ho...! Tis the season – right? The season for love, cheer and goodwill towards our fellow men. It is the time for family, for sharing, for enjoying the excitement and for all of us big kids to watch the joys of Christmas dance in the eyes of a small child or grandchild. I love the Christmas season; it has always been my most favorite time of the year. But I have to admit that as I sit here at my quiet desk writing my thoughts to you I don’t seem to have my usual cup of holiday cheer with me. My thoughts keep going to those 27-plus families in Newtown, Conn., whose lives will never be the same.

One indescribable, horrific act of violence has forever changed the lives of so many people and my heart breaks for all of them. I hope as everyone celebrates this wonderful season with their family and friends that we don’t forget to keep those families in our prayers.

Well, the Christmas season is definitely upon us and families everywhere are getting ready for their individual celebrations. Our family is no different. We are so excited that all of our kids will be home for Christmas this year and I can’t wait for the festivities to begin. We will be hosting the annual Yates Family Christmas Eve and there will be lots of Yates family in attendance. Our family Christmas celebrations have, however, changed over the years. My nieces and nephews now have families of their own and are spending Christmas elsewhere, my kids have extended families and share the holidays with them, and others move too far away. Wow, Christmas sure seemed simpler way back when!

I have to admit that Christmas sort of snuck up on me this year. Toni had the house decorated early and we put our tree up in between trips to AJ’s race shop and testing but I kept thinking that I had plenty of time to get ready. Ummmm – is five more shopping days still plenty of time? Of course it is! No worries – right?

Speaking of putting up the tree…this year I almost messed up. I went to see my friend Carey at Nalls Nursery and he had the perfect tree picked out for me. We chatted and he loaded the tree in my van. Unfortunately, the doors of the van wouldn’t close – that should have been my first clue...the tree was a little long; no worries, we just tied the doors with twine and off I went to the house. When I arrived home I told Toni to come help me drag the tree into the house. She took one look at the size of the trunk of this tree and asked me if I was serious.

“It will be easy”, I said, “you haul around transmissions – this tree can’t be that much heavier and besides you are really strong.” She looked at me like I had two heads. I told her to just take hold of one side of the tree and I would take the other and just yank…it would slide out of the van. Well that should have been the second clue. This tree barely budged. So, on the count of three we heaved and hoed this multi pound tree out of the van, across the yard and finally into the house where we both almost collapsed with exhaustion. Toni finally looked at me and said, “how in the world did you ever get this thing into the van?!” (or it went something like that!) “Ummmm four great big burley guys kind if wrestled in there,” I said. She just rolled her eyes, shook her head and mumbled something about “here’s your sign”. Now, I don’t know what she is talking about!

Anyway, I had to wait until Jamie and Ryan came over to get the thing up-righted. Ok, well maybe I could have gone a little smaller but I just love having a big Christmas tree! Anyway, after it is all decorated no one ever remembers all the hard work that went into putting it up right? Besides, I didn’t want to disappoint Ryan and Maia – I did it all for them you know!

Every year we always seem to think that we won’t get everything done and somehow it all comes together just in time. I can’t wait to share Christmas with Ryan and Maia…they are growing up so fast and are so excited about everything! Their eyes just sparkle when they show me where “Sprinkles”, their “elf on the shelf” has relocated overnight. I mean how fun is that?

Melissa and Joey will be making one last road trip before the baby is due and I am so glad that they get to come home for Christmas, even if it is only for a few days. Next Christmas there will be three grandbabies and am definitely up to the task of adding another grandbaby to my list of those to spoil! Of course Jon and Alli, Jamie and Cynthy and Toni’s Dad will be here, too. Fun times!!!

In closing I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season. During this blessed season please don’t forget to love a little longer, share a little more, help someone in need and give your children and grandchildren just a little tighter hug. Celebrate the true meaning of the season and please remember to keep those in need in your daily prayers. May the spirit of Christmas bless you and your family. From our home to yours – Happy Holidays to all of you!

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