Friday, November 11, 2011

As J.J. Yeley hits the track, Scott Bates' dream will come true

“I never dreamed it would come to this.”

Those are the words of a man whose dreams are about to come true this weekend. Scott Bates, a Marine Corps veteran, designed J.J. Yeley’s Vampt paint scheme - a salute to Veterans Day - for this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. 

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When you think of Veterans Day, you think of men and women who had the courage to fight for our country in the most dire of circumstances. After speaking with Bates, I could see why he was the perfect choice to design this special paint scheme. This is the story of a man who didn't give up when his own body betrayed him.

Bates, 48, suffers from multiple sclerosis that struck him while he was still serving in the Corps. When life put such a speed bump in front of Bates, he did as any good race fan would do – plow it down and keep on moving. Although he is no longer able to walk or endure the freedoms that most do, Bates takes to the computer to express his creativity.

Looking through his pictures on his website www.ernhrtfanracing.com, it amazes me to realize those are graphics and not actually pictures. Bates takes some race graphics and then super-imposes his cars, such as this picture with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car on the track of Daytona.
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In honor of his Marine Corp background, Bates designed this car:


Even more amazing, Bates does these all without the use of his arms. Using a mouse that is controlled atop his head, a sensor on the computer screen can pick up Bates' movements, allowing him to create his designs. This video shows Bates at work: 


Bates is completely self-taught, as he told me. “I just learned this when there was nothing else to do.”

It was an initial struggle to learn the computer program Photoshop and the car-rendering program, but with persistence, Bates took to the computer.

Bates was noticed a few years ago through Twitter by Rebecca Gladden, a fellow NASCAR writer. Through her connections, Gladden set Bates up with Leilani Munter, an ARCA series racecar driver, and that was Bates' first car to hit the track. From designing to pass the time to seeing his time and efforts hit the racetrack was a dream come true.

Bigger and better things awaited Bates, though. This weekend J.J. Yeley’s No. 38 Vampt Ford Fusion is sporting a special paint scheme designed by Bates. In honor of Veterans Day, there is a patriot theme to the car.

In a deal that came together in the past month, Bates designed a car and submitted it to Vampt for approval. Minor changes were needed and here we are, awaiting Bate’s design to hit the track today.

“What I really like about Vampt and Front Row is that they let me do what I want. They didn’t pick over it a lot,” said Bates about the design process with a Sprint Cup-level team. In comparison to his past experience of designing for an ARCA car and team, Bates said he had a much easier time this go-around.

To see his car hit the track this weekend, Bates will be in Phoenix as a guest of Vampt and Front Row Motorsports. Bates and his entire family will be making the 15-hour drive from Oklahoma to Phoenix.

Bates described his feelings headed into this exciting weekend: “I am as nervous as I could be!” But as Bates said, it is not for him that they are making the trip. “I wanted this more for my family,” he told me. “They take such good care of me, they just go above and beyond to help me. I wanted this to come true so bad – for them, to get them behind the scenes.” The most exciting part that awaits Bates is seeing the looks on the faces of his wife, daughter and granddaughters as they go through this weekend together.

After sitting and going through photo after photo on Bates’ website, the question came to mind of what inspires him. It really is simple. “Laying in bed at night, an idea will come to my mind,” said Bates. “I don’t know why the ideas are just there, I have always been a big Dale Sr. fan and he was my biggest racecar hero.”


Bate's tribute to his fallen hero.
Photo used with permission.
Take some time and look through Bates’ website, it truly is an inspiring tale. The saying has always been when life hands you lemons, make lemonade; well Scott – enjoy the lemonade this week!


Links to connect with Scott Bates:


@ernhrtfan - Scott posts a lot of his pictures on Twitter.




Website: www.ernhrtfanracing.com


NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda's area of coverage also includes exclusive interviews, brought straight to the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her columns and interviews click here. Feel free to follow and contact Amanda via Twitter.

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