Story Written by: Debi Lane
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Phil Yeatts hails from Corinth Texas and at 46 years of age, is living his dream. He races in the the Legends Series in the Masters and was a 2008 champion.
The fact that Phillip is racing at all is a bit of a miracle in itself. You see, he was born without his right arm and leg. Forty-six years ago, that might have meant he would be sequestered away in a "home", however, Phillip's parents didn't believe in coddling their son and encouraged him to live his life as normally as any other child.
At ten, his life in racing was born when he acquired a Honda three wheeler. Like any kid, he pushed himself and the bike to the limits, racing around the Cotton farm where the family lived, even building himself a race track around the barn. He adjusted air pressures in the tires, and taped a stop watch to the handlebars of the bike so he could see what his adjustments were doing to his times around the track. He'd move the rear axle forwards or backwards, trying to get the absolute best times out of the bike he could. Of course, there were the inevitable flips, rolls and crashes, but this too, he practiced, so he could could "bail off the bike and roll" and not get hurt.
Next step up was a '75 Ford Torino. This is where he honed his "behind the wheel" skills, driving faster and faster on the back roads, in the dirt and sand, until he could take a 90 degree turn at 100 mph. His next step was to a pickup truck, rigged for drag racing, with a 429 Cobra-Jet engine. Phillip was successful in this endeavour too, rarely being beaten, unless he was in a ditch or out of control. In 1984, he moved to Dallas and continued to race in the drags, at California Crossing. Again he was successful, but the death of a close friend on the track cooled his desire for the speeds and he retired.
All was quiet for a few years, until he met Phillip Pullen. Somewhere along the way, he gained the nickname "Hook" due to his missing right arm. He and Pullen started racing at Devils Bowl Speedway, first in a 1976 Chevy Impala and when that got totalled, they took the remaining parts and created a Nova, the smaller Chevy being what they should have been racing all along.
Hook was in the pits, while Pullen drove the car. They made racing a family affair and got their kids involved in Kart racing .Like everything he'd done as a youngster, Hook was a success as a mechanic as well and the two continued racing until 2002, whem they closed up shop.
Last year, Hook found a Legends Series car and started racing, again at Texas. A chance encounter with Buddy Goudy, a 2 time National champ and a 4 time Champion Crew Chief, resulted in a modified car and a driving career was reborn. His first year in the car and Hook grabbed the Championship and by all counts, making it look rather effortless.
Through it all, Phillip has remained true to himself, his parents and his family. Although it must have made his parents cry to watch his struggle to succeed, they stopped themselves from rushing in to "rescue" him and because of this, he's a strong, independant person, with his woman at his side, 4 children, grandchildren, doing what he loves to do. What could be better than that?