2016 has been a particularly devastating year in terms of the number of icons lost. From musicians to athletes to actors and authors, in the last 10 months we’ve lost a number of individuals who have left an indelible mark on their respective field. Earlier this month, legendary automotive journalist and founder of the famed Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, Brock Yates, passed away at the age of 82.
Even for those not as familiar with automotive history and heritage, the name Brock Yates was synonymous with cars and racing. For years, Yates served as the editor for Car and Driver magazine, while also acting as a televised race commentator and, perhaps most significantly, creator of the Cannonball Run. The latter led to a veritable institution of automotive speed and flaunting of the increasing number of rules and regulations that arose in the wake of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s establishment in 1970. A decade after the first running of the inimitable event, Yates took on a role as screenwriter for the 1981 Burt Reynolds’ film, Cannonball Run.
More than anything, Yates’ passion for cars, speed and the thriving culture around each came through on the page better than nearly any other automotive journalist before or since. His passing marks the end of an era built on speed and the unlimited freedom and potential afforded by the automobile.