Yates, who was voted into the Hall of Fame in May and will be inducted next year, had liver cancer.
“He was a leader and inspired everyone around him to do their best and to take it to a new level,” Doug Yates said in a post by Roush Yates Engines. Roush Yates also posted to its social media accounts that Yates died “surrounded by his family and loved ones.”
Robert Yates Racing won 57 races and 48 poles. Yates was a noted engine builder who helped guide Bobby Allison to the 1983 Cup title, with Daytona 500 victories for Davey Allison in 1992 and Jarrett in 1996 and 2000.
“First and foremost an engine guy, Robert will be remembered as a person who helped build the sport with dedication and hard work,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a board member of Ford Motor Co. “His legacy at NASCAR will be defined by his roles as an engine builder, championship team owner, co-founder of Roush Yates Engines and ultimately by the innovation that he brought to all of these endeavors and more.
“Much like my great-grandfather, Henry Ford, Robert was a tinkerer. They both leave behind a legion of admirers and friends who benefited from their mentorship and their passion.”
Yates’ son took over Roush Yates Engines, which powered Kurt Busch to the Daytona 500 victory in February. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also drove Yates engines to victories at Talladega and Daytona this year.
Tony Stewart, who moved from Stewart-Haas Racing to Ford and Yates engines this season, said the sport “lost one of the most inventive minds and kindest personalities.” The team honored Yates with a throwback paint scheme on Danica Patrick’s car at Darlington.
“I’m glad I got to know him and proud our race team was able to honor him this year at Darlington,” Stewart said. “He leaves a strong legacy that is carried on by his son, Doug, and all of their employees at Roush Yates Engines.”