Concord, NC – The age-old debate about race car drivers being athletes certainly does not pertain to third-generation Colorado racer Brett Yackey. The 17-year-old Kulwicki Driver Development Program competitor is a three-sport star athlete for Greeley Central High School, located in the city some 60 miles northeast of Denver.
While the six foot, 185 pound soon-to-be high school senior has made his mark playing basketball and baseball for the Wildcats, it is football that’s his favorite school sport and where he has excelled. Yackey plays three different positions: running back, outside linebacker and kicker.
During his junior season last year wearing the number 32 Wildcat uniform, he had 85 carries for 578 yards, plus 19 receptions for another 173 yards as a running back. As linebacker, he had 78 solo tackles. Yackey’s MVP performance in last fall’s high school football camp at Colorado State earned him a spot for the 11th Annual Offense-Defense Rising Stars Bowl held last December at the Atlanta area’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University. For Yackey’s 2016 football season highlights package at Greeley Central High School, please follow this link: http://www.hudl.com/profile/8912384/brett-yackey
The fact that the youngster is a true athlete may not be questionable, but what is up for debate is for which sport he actually has the most passion. You see, while Yackey enjoys his time spent with the pigskin on the ball field, he has possibly even more zest and determination when he climbs behind the wheel of his black and blue No. 32 Super Late Model race car.
To say that Yackey was born with racing in his blood would be an understatement. He practically grew up at Colorado National Speedway, the 3/8ths-mile paved oval located in Dacono, Colorado, 30 miles north of Denver off of I-25.
Brett's father, Bruce Yackey, is a 14-time champion at Colorado National, with nine of those titles coming in Super Late Model competition. Bruce is a member of the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame. Both of Brett’s grandfathers were drivers. His older brother, Brian, and extended family members also race. His mother and grandmother attend the races, assisting with all the sponsor and fan activities.
“I was born on March 8 and dad’s first practice day was two weeks later, so that was the first time I ever visited the track,” said Yackey. “So, yeah, I got started early. I grew up watching from the stands and playing with the other kids out there. But when I was 12, the track lifted the age restriction and that’s when I started helping out on my dad’s car down in the pits.”
Yackey started racing his own stock car at 13 (on I-76 Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track located in Fort Morgan, Colorado) and has been a champion in each division as he moved up the ladder. At 14, he was able to get a NASCAR license and won the 2014 Pure Stock division championship at Colorado National. In 2015, it was a father & son championship season as his dad picked up the title in the Super Late Models and Brett won the Super Stock division championship.
Yackey won the 2016 Late Model division championship at Colorado National and also ventured into SLM competition (finishing 9th in points). He won nine out of the 11 Late Model feature races and was named 2016 Colorado Rookie-of-the-Year in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition. Entering the 2017 season, his first as a full-time Super Late Model division competitor, Yackey had won more than 30 main events.
So far this season, Yackey has finished in the top 10 in five of the seven SLM main events completed at Colorado National. A fifth-place finish ranks as his best and he has an 8.6 overall average finish. He has also ventured down to I-25 Speedway, just north of Pueblo, Colorado, for one race night where he won the pole and finished second in the feature.
“We’re having some of the best fields of cars and highest levels of competition anywhere in Super Late Models this year at Colorado National,” said Yackey. “We’ve been averaging more than 20 cars every race and you never know who is going to show up. Preston Peltier, who just won the Spud 150 up in Idaho last week, showed up on Saturday and took the win.
“I love racing against the best drivers in the sport as I feel like it can only make me a better competitor out there. My father never had the opportunity to race against his dad, so I think it makes our situation even more special. You can bet that there’s always a lot of incentive to try and finish in front of that No. 12 car (Bruce Yackey) each and every race.”
During Yackey’s childhood years, he began to carve out the scenario that explains his affection today for both bat and ball sports and motorsports.
“When I was five years old, my folks steered me into organized athletics,” said Yackey. “I played Pee-Wee Football and Little League Baseball. I even played soccer back then. I started racing go-karts when I was eight and have enjoyed a good balance between school sports and my racing ever since.
“I’ve been so blessed to have a family that supports me in everything I do. I am also so thankful for the encouragement I get from the coaches and all the students at Greeley Central. When Coach Luster (Gary Luster, head football coach for the Wildcats) found out that I had been selected as a KDDP driver this year, he sent out an e-mail blast to the whole school. I thought that was such an incredible thing for him to do.”
During his current schedule, Yackey hits the weight room every morning before heading to work at the family business, Greeley Automotive Machine Inc. Then it’s time to focus on getting his race car prepared for the next outing. With football season just around the corner, that means upcoming “two-a-days” practice and final preparations for the August 31st season-opener against Berthoud.
“It’s a busy schedule for sure, but it’s all worth it,” said Yackey. “Like I said, everyone is so supportive. We normally play our games on Friday nights, so the routine is to give it my all out there on the field, get a good night’s sleep and be ready to load up the car and head to the track on Saturday. We have a Saturday game this season on one of our race days. Coach Luster successfully lobbied for starting the game at 11 a.m. That means I can play our game and still make it out to the track in time for everything on the schedule there.
“It’s something that I sincerely hope I can continue to do – mix playing football with my racing,” Yackey said. “I’m really looking forward to my senior season at Greeley Central. After I graduate, I hope to be able to go to college somewhere in-state and continue to play football. My favorite college team is the Colorado State Rams up in Fort Collins. I have visited the campus and athletic facility several times and even been to football camp there. That would be so cool to play for them and also continue on with my racing career.”
While only time will tell whether Yackey’s dream of playing college football and continuing up the racing ladder will come to fruition, the youngster is hard at work focusing on his next challenge.
“It’s a special two-night schedule of racing at Colorado National this weekend and I’m having my big fundraiser out there both nights,” said Yackey. “We’re doing a silent auction, burritos and bake sale to raise funds for Dalton Hewitt, a 24-year-old former Pro-Trucks division competitor who is battling cancer.
“Our division isn’t racing Saturday, but the Super Late Models are featured on Sunday and I’ll be giving it my all to try to win,” said Yackey. “It’s a special holiday night and we’re hoping to see the grandstands packed and our No. 32 take the checkered flag.”
Sunday’s action on the 3/8ths-mile Colorado National Speedway gets under way with practice at 3:00 p.m. The front gate opens for fans at 4:00 p.m. and the racing starts at 6:30 p.m. The Famous Dave’s BBQ Special Night features the special Super Late Model competition and will also see the Super Stocks, Legends and Demo-cross divisions in action. The night will conclude with a gigantic fireworks display. Admission is $17 for adults (13 & older) and $8 for youth (5-12). Kids 4 & under get in free and also get a free hotdog.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release. Photo Credit: Christi Yackey