Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Arkansas Motorsports Magazine recently spoke with Bill Yates who is well known across the the State of Arkansas, who since the late nineteen sixties has raced dirt track stock cars throughout the state of Arkansas. During our conversation, the question came up as to where the trade mark colored green stock cars along with the yellow number 13 came from. This formula has identified his cars from the time of his very first race in 1968.
Yates went on to explain, that the very first car that he built for a race car was that of a Ford model and the color was already green from the factory, and the paint was still in good shape.
"It was when Wendell Cook was first opening the track at Centerville, Arkansas in about 1968. They had a meeting where all of us drivers attended and they were assigning numbers. They were going down the list and they got to the number 13 and nobody wanted it. I had no idea at the time that it was considered an unlucky number. I honestly thought it sounded like a good number to me, so I held my hand up and said I'll take the number 13. I did notice that I got some strange looks from the other drivers."
Yates then explained that he then went back to his garage in Plainview, Arkansas. "Now keep in mind, I had never heard that it was bad luck to have a race car that was green. I looked around the shop as to what paint that I had on hand that would look good on the green car for the number 13, and found some yellow paint. That's how the color and number combination came about.
"Now again keep in mind I had no idea about these superstitions in racing," Yates said. "I go to Centerville one night to race, and several cars from the Little Rock area where there. After I pulled in the pits, several of them went to Wendell (Cook) the owner, and said If that car races on the track tonight we will load up and go home. Wendell said boys we are going to have a race here tonight and that car is going to be out there on the track whether any other cars are out there or not. Those guys stayed and raced with us, and came back several times."
Yates told Arkansas Motorsports Magazine, "The combination created an identity in racing for me." It something that you can tell he is very proud of by the grin that comes across his face as he is telling the story.
"The colors and the number where very good to me, maybe except for one time," Yates explained. "I was the first car to turn over in a race at Centerville, Arkansas. But it wasn't the color or the numbers fault. But that will be a story for another day," he laughed.