DENVER – Adam Yarbrough grew up at the race track watching his father, Danny, while dreaming of the day he’d take his turn behind the wheel. Now, Yarbrough – who’s affectionately known as the “Denver Dirtslinger” – is making his mark on the local circuits, claiming Rookie of the Year honors for his performance in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series.
“My daddy raced all my life, so I grew up at the race track,” Yarbrough said. “He started racing around 1980 and I was born in ‘85, so we spent every weekend at the race track growing up. I’ve got an older brother and he and my momma were real big into horses, but I always chased after Daddy … This all started with my dad and he’s been the driving force behind me and my racing career. If something were to happen to him, there’s no telling what I would do. I’d probably sell everything and quit.”
Yarbrough got his first taste of dirt track racing at the age of 15, when his grandfather used to have to ride with him to the track because Yarbrough didn’t even have his driver’s license yet. He was hooked from the first time he fired up his engine, and he still craves the competition of trying to be the first car to cross the finish line 20 years later.
“I just enjoy the competition,” Yarbrough said. “It feels like I’m at home when I get behind the wheel of a race car. There’s no one telling you what to do, so once you’re in that car it’s all on you … The thing about going to the race track is that it’s like a drug for me. From the first weekend of March until the last weekend in November, I’m going to be at the race track every weekend. There’s nowhere else that I’d rather be.”
Yarbrough is now closing in on 200 career victories, but when asked to pinpoint one that he’s particularly proud of, he thought back to his first victory at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C. in 2010. While that memory still sticks with him all these years later, Yarbrough admitted that his next victory, which will be his first in a Super Late Model race car, will likely surpass that moment.
“If you win a race at Cherokee Speedway, you’ve done something,” Yarbrough said. “I haven’t gotten a win in the Carolina Clash Series yet, but if I could win a Super Late Model race, that would top them all.”
Yarbrough has experienced a great deal of success, winning the NDRA Series championship in 2010 and the Fastrak Series championship in 2012, in addition to being named the reserve champion in the Blue Ridge Outlaw Series in 2016 and 2017. A third place finish at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia marked his best showing in his first season competing in the Carolina Clash Series, but another top five finish and several other top 10 finishes were enough to earn Yarbrough Rookie of the Year honors in 2018.
While his success is impressive enough on the surface, it’s even more remarkable considering that Yarbrough races without sponsorship, one of just a handful of drivers on the Carolina Clash Series circuit to do so. Without sponsors, Yarbrough’s resources are limited, meaning he has to fund his racing career through the money generated by his family’s auto repair shop.
“We’ve got to do it all on our own,” Yarbrough said of racing without a sponsor. “It’s a full-time job.”
“It starts on Sunday, when you’ve got to wash your race car from Saturday night, and that takes nearly three hours,” Adam’s mother, Judy Yarbrough, added. “Then, if there’s damage, you’ve got to repair that damage and that might take all week leading up to the next race.”
In addition to the time spent preparing the car for its next race, the financial burden of keeping the car running also falls squarely on Yarbrough’s shoulders.
“Adam is a very good driver, but in this Super Late model Series there are a lot of unlimited budgets out there that he has to compete with,” Judy Yarbrough said. “Other drivers have sponsors to help pay for better equipment. A new motor alone will run you about $40,000, and then you’ve got tires and fuel and everything else on top of that, so we’re always seeking sponsorship.”
Yarbrough will be back at the track in a matter of months, when the Carolina Clash Series drops the green flag on a new season March 9 at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia.