Told by Cheri Bowden (mom)
The deal we give our boys is this. We provide the ‘work project’ car of their choice (within reason). We provide the parts. They provide the work and bloody knuckles. Steve teaches them all about cars and how they work and what combinations work best together. Steve is a retired mechanic and had been a dirt track racer and mechanic for his car, so he has a lot of background to teach the boys. They decide what setup they want for their cars. We start them about 14 or 15 working on their project car. They don’t get to drive their car until they have driven the old ¾ ton diesel truck for 9 months after their 16th birthday (except on special occasions). Then they get to drive their car if they have worked on it enough to have it in running order. They get to keep their car if they follow the house rules of: no drinking, no drugs, keep grades up, and keep a good attitude with the family. If they follow all the rules then when they graduate High School the car will be put in their name. The oldest boy, Lee Bowden, has a 1970 Camaro and we gave him a Chevy 383 for his graduation present. Caleb, 14, now has a 71 Nova to start working on. He has a lot work to do and is looking forward to the challenge.
We lived in Arizona in the Prescott Valley and Chino Valley areas until the summer of 2006. Then we moved to Ava, Missouri in June of 2006. Jacob just loved it in Missouri. He and Lee connected with the car club folks right away. Jacob really like his new High School. He was really accepted by the kids at the high school and they made him feel welcome. He was voted as Junior class Treasurer. He played on the football team. He missed his friends back in Arizona but was making a lot of friends in Ava.
Jacob had been working on his car quite a bit. He had a 355 engine with a mild cam and aluminum heads. Otherwise a standard setup in the car. He had started working with Tim McDevitt at Willoughby Hot Rods in Ava, Missouri to learn about auto body restoration. He and Tim really enjoyed talking about hot rods and drag racing. Jacob had taken his Nova to Speedworld in Surprise, Arizona once before in the spring of 2006. He did not do too well. He really enjoyed it and when we moved to Missouri both Lee and Jacob really wanted to try the drag strip with their cars. Tim had taken Jacob to the drag strip at Ozark International Raceway the end of the summer 2006. Then end of September Jacob finally got his car out at the track for a test and tune night. He loved it. So the next weekend he got his car out for a bracket race. That weekend he won first place in the trophy class. The next weekend he didn’t do so well and was eliminated. The following weekend, the last weekend of the season, he won first place again in the trophy class. This last time was really special. He talked his friend Heath Carnall into bringing his 70 Nova out to the track to race for his first time. The two of them raced in the trophy class. They ended up being the two finalists. It was like a story book ending to have the two of them racing each other for the final. Jacob ended up wining first and Heath took second. We didn’t know that was the last time Jacob was going to be racing ever again. Jacob was really hooked on racing at the end of the season. He talked non-stop about what he wanted done to his car over the winter. He decided to take his car off the road and have it be setup only for racing so he could work on it in that direction. He was trying to talk mom into lots of changes for more power. Of course, mom wanted to make deals on grades first, bring them up and we’ll talk. Dad was in the background getting all the details together. I’m really glad he did. Dad and Lee knew all the changes that Jacob wanted done to his car over the winter. Everything except exactly what color his wanted his car. He kept changing his mind. That was because he knew we didn’t have the money for the paint yet so that was out a while in time.
Everything changed forever on Saturday November 25, 2006. Steve and I were driving into town for an errand and Jacob was following in his S10 pickup. We got to town and an ambulance was turning up the road that we just came down. We waited for Jacob and he didn’t come. We called his phone and he didn’t answer. We turned back and found that Jacob had been hit head-on. Someone was driving 30 miles over the speed limit and passed another car on a blind hill and hit Jacob head on just after the crest of the hill. Jacob died 1 hour later. We called Lee and he was able to be there with us at the accident scene.
Jacob was only in Ava for 6 months but we needed the largest church to hold his services. He was a very special person that touched the lives of many people. The thing that most people remember about Jacob is that he was so loving and such a good friend to so many people that he met. He was very quick to lend a helping hand to anyone that needed help. When he saw someone down, he was quick to try and pick their spirits up. When others were not getting along he was trying to mend it if he could. After he passed we found out that he had been buying dinner for someone after their game when they didn't have money for dinner. He had been carrying extra coats in his car in case someone was cold and didn't have a coat to wear. He would fix peoples cars. Many different ways he was helping. To carry on Jake's way he treated others, we have started a Jake Yeates Memorial Fund to help kids at the Ava School District. This fund is used to help kids in the school district that have a need that the teachers or social worker recognize. They have used it for shoes, coats, club fees, field trip fees, school pictures, and many other things since it was started. As a teacher or the social worker at the school sees a need they can use the fund to help out. We have since then decided that we would like to have the ability to have a fund like this at more than just Ava School District. We have started the Jacob Yeates Foundation so that we can give grants to many school districts to be able to setup Jake Yeates Funds at their district.
Jacob’s Nova was sitting in the garage. As a family we decided, along with the encouragement from Jake’s friends, to do the changes that Jacob wanted to his Nova to get it ready for the track. We slowly got the parts and started working on it. This was very difficult for Steve to do. Each time he started to work on the car it was emotionally very difficult. It is also very difficult for Steve to work very long on the car because he is retired because he has rheumatoid arthritis in his hands, elbows, and knees. With pushing from friends, Steve finally got working on it in August. With help from Tim and friends on some of the heavier work and Lee when he could, Jake’s car was finally running and at the track in September. Steve is driving Jake’s car at Ozark International Raceway. He has driven it twice and the quickest run is 12.29 on the ¼ mile at 107 mph. This would have gotten Jacob very excited. His best run last year was 13.8. We ran out of time to get the engine into the car that Jacob wanted. We used another engine that we had in the shop ready. We are hoping to get his 355 running over the winter. Someday we are hoping that we can get the body work and paint done.
We have decided to have a fundraiser drag race in the spring 2008 at Ozark International raceway to raise money for the Jacob Yeates Foundation. We will be using Jacob’s car to promote the race and to raise money for the Jacob Yeates Foundation. We have a web site www.4Jake.org that gives more details about the race and the foundation.
Update: Spring 2008 –
We have decided to get the body work and paint done for Jake’s car. We put it in the shop at Willoughby’s Hot Rods in February 2008. Tim is excited to be working on Jake’s car. We are trying to get it done in time for the Race on April 26, 2008. Tim called to order the paint for the car and was telling Mark Randall at D & A Paint & Truck Accessories, Lebanon, Mo, about Jake and his car. We were really excited and surprised when Mark Randall said that he will donate the PPG paint for Jake’s car. The love and generosity of the people we meet always amazes us.
Update: Summer 2008 -
We raised just over $7000 at the 1st Annual Jacob Yeates Memorial Drag Race. The race was a lot of fun for all, raised money to start a Jake Yeates Fund at at least 10 Ozark schools this next year and was a great memorial to Jacob. His generous love for others will continue on and help many more children.
Update: Spring 2009 -
We have been able to help 12 schools this last winter with the Jacob Yeates Foundation. We are continuing to work on Jake's car. This year we decided to put the name of his car on the side. 'Jakes Dream'. It looks great on his car. We had it completed just in time for the 2nd Annual Jake Yeates Memorial Drag Race. The race was alot of fun and was a great success. We were able to raise just over $9000 this year. We had great sponsors this year and we had some surprise demonstration drivers show up to the race. We had Gary Fore and his Super Cobra Jet Finny Car again this year. The team from TYDO brought out their wagon for a few runs down the track. Kevin Maddux in his '63 Corvette and "The Lucas Oil '67 Firebird of Cody Barklage" came and did some demonstration runs. All these teams were great to watch and showed anyone that came by their pit all about their special type of car. We had tricycle races for the little kids and that was alot of fun for them. We raffled off 1 hour time slots in the tower VIP suite for spectators to get a special view of the race. It was a great way to remember Jake and raise some money to help more children in the Ozarks. We have already added one more school to our list and are now at 13 schools.