William Cecil Yates was born in Erath County, Texas in May 8, 1912. He moved with his family to the Southside of Chicago and got interested in sports as a teenager. He played varsity football at his high school and quickly got enamored in bicycle racing and the six-day racing scene. He showed great promise and was selected to go to New York City for their six-day bicycle race partnered with Mike Rodak in 1932. Cecil was 19 years old. He won his first six-day race in Vancouver, British Columbia in October 1934, partnered with the Californian racer Eddie Testa.
Cecil was known as a speedster. He could turn on the jets during a jam and have the field chasing him around the track. He was a crowd pleaser for the sporting fans. When Cecil Yates was racing the patrons knew that there would be lots of action on the track.
Cecil was a regular six-day racer in the sports most lucrative venues; Chicago (13 races), New York City (11 races) and San Francisco (4 races). In total Cecil Yates raced in 17 North American cities. He raced in Canada five times and won 3 six-day races. Cecil had two favorite partners both from the Chicago area, the transplanted Canadian Jules Audy and the stalwart Jerry Rodman. Cecil raced with Rodman and Audy 8 times each. In total Cecil raced with 28 six-day racing partners.
In the Historical Classification of Six-Day Racers (Jacq van Reijendam, 2007, Breda NL), Cecil Yates sits in 58th place out of over 4000 six-day racers in the past 108 years. Cecil won 16 six-day races and had an amazing podium placing average of 55%. His professional six-day racing career covered 17 years from 1932-1949. He raced in 56 six-day races. Cecil died in 1987 at the age of 74 years old in Buckeye, Maricopa County, Arizona. He is survived by daughter Geneil Yates Smith.