My new teamThursday, January 30, 2014
Posted by: Jim Yates

Happy January everyone! With the temperatures hovering around the 0-degree mark for the past couple of weeks around here, I can honestly say that I can't wait to get this 2014 Mello Yello Pro Stock season underway in beautiful sunny California! I am really hoping that this cold weather doesn't try to follow me out there. There have been a lot of things happening around the Yates house this month so I thought I better take some time and catch everyone up on the latest.

If you have been reading my blogs you know that I am no longer working for Allen Johnson and his team this season. It was a huge disappointment for me at the time but I am one of those people who truly believe in the old saying that "for every door that closes, another one opens." Well, when the door closed on the opportunities at the Johnson team it reopened into an awesome opportunity with the Harlow Sammons Racing Team and the wonderful McGaha family and I couldn't be any more excited than I am right now!

During the off season, the McGaha family (Chris, Holly, Lester, and Valois) have been extremely busy -- to say the least! Right after Pomona, they had the opportunity to purchase Mike Edward's entire operation including the racecar, truck, trailer, engines, clutches, transmissions and everything else that Mike used to race with over the past several years. It has been a huge undertaking for them and they have been working non-stop since December trying to combine Mike's operation with their current racing operation in Odessa, Texas.

I spoke to the McGaha family a few weeks ago and couldn't help but share in the excitement of their new acquisition. I flew to Odessa, met with everyone and started working that same day. Chris and Lester have put together a really great team and everyone is so excited about the opportunities that they we have this season. But first let me tell you a little something about this awesome family and the group of people that they have working with them.

Chris is an integral part of his racing team and is involved in every aspect of its operation. He has been driving the Harlow Sammons Dodge for the past couple of years and I can't tell you how excited he is to get behind the wheel of his new Chevy Camaro. His wife Holly and his parents, Lester and Valois have always been an active part of his racing team -- once again I have found myself a position with another racing family. Because of my own family being so involved in our racing operation for so many years, it feels just like home.

Many of you already know Al Lindsey (Big Al) as he has worked for Mike for the past several years. Not only did Al work in the engine shop but was also Mike's right hand man at the track, maintaining the engines and assisting Mike in making decisions on the car. But a lot of you may not know that Al was part of my team back in the Splitfire days in the same capacity so when I found out that Al was now working with Chris and the guys I was really excited! Ok I know, I am getting side tracked...LOL.

OK, back to the team...Scott has been running the engine shop at Harlow Sammons for some time and he is really having a lot of fun working on and maintaining these new engines. Needless to say, he and Chris have been just a little busy trying to get everything ready for Phoenix testing and Pomona and I know he can't wait to see how we run in a few days.

We also have a great bunch of guys traveling to the track every weekend. Besides Big Al handling the engines, we have Steve doing the clutch and assisting Chris as he builds the transmissions, Randy drives the rig to all the races and does the rear part of the car and Chris, Lester, Al and I will try to keep this Harlow Sammons Camaro running fast and consistent on every pass down the track. Sounds like a great plan to me!

Over the past few weeks I have spent a lot of my time working with the team getting everything ready for our test session in Phoenix. It has been a blast. Everyone says that they only work half days: 12 hours! This team is so excited to get everything done that no one wants to quit and go home at night - what a great bunch of guys we have and more importantly, we are all having a great time working together.

Our rig will leave on Friday and head to Phoenix where we will be joined with a lot of the other Pro Stock teams for a three-day test session. We plan to start out slow, breaking in tires and clutch discs, letting Chris get used to the feel of his new car, and getting the right tune-up for the engines and the racecar. We are hoping to test at least three days and by that time we should be ready for our first pass in Pomona.

As you can tell, I am so excited about this year I can't wait to get to the track. I took a couple of pictures in the shop yesterday while they were wrapping the racecar - it isn't like Toni's pictures but it will have to do until she gets to the track with her good camera.

I know that there will be lots of reports coming from the Phoenix test session and I will try to make sure that we keep everyone updated even if it is via our Facebook pages. In closing I want to say that when a door shuts it is sometimes difficult to understand why, but when a new door opens into a bright future with a wonderful group of people, it makes me very thankful and proud that I am able to be a part of such a great team. Thanks for checking in!!!