When a person thinks about harness racing in the Badger State, there is no doubt that the indelible mark Robert and Carol Yohn have left on the sport come to mind.
Bob began his career in harness racing at the age of sixteen on the family farm in Fountain Prairie Township with his father, Richard. His immediate love for the sport and the horses made it obvious that this industry would become Bob’s career and lifelong passion. Bob was fortunate to work for industry legends Delvin Miller and Billy Haughton early in his career, first as a groomer and later as an assistant trainer and driver. Bob’s early years in the business took him all over the country, including Illinois; Indiana; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; and a special fall season in 1972 when he met Carol in Pompano, Florida.
Upon their marriage in 1977, Bob and Carol began traveling several times a week to the tracks in Chicago and throughout the Midwest racing their horses. Carol immediately took to the sport, learning the lingo and tactics of the industry, while also partaking in the training of the horses on the farm after receiving her license. This instant love for the outdoors and the farm way of life is a bit of surprise considering Carol grew up in Flint, Michigan and spent her adult years before meeting Bob in major metro areas!
In 1979 Bob and Carol welcomed their first daughter Rebecca and three years later added Rachel to the family. As the girls grew, Carol began staying home in Fall River with the them while Bob continued to travel to the tracks in Chicago. When Bob was gone, Carol’s favorite part of the day was when he would call to let her know how he did before he started the trip home.
Bob and Carol had many wonderful memories in harness racing over the years, and there are a few very special moments they have shared.
As owners, Bob and Carol along with Bob’s parents, won two Pete Langley Memorial Stake Races with Prairie Badger and Prairie Beauty; and Bob drove Prairie Beauty to two Violet Stake race wins. Bob also trained and drove to a record-setting win with Delmonica Hanover at a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes race. Carol did tend to have one bad habit when it came to the horses-getting too attached to her favorite ones, including Prairie Beauty; Prairie Badger; Prairie Nancy; Prairie Walnut; and Cmebatrotter.
To date on the track, Bob has 2,937 starts with 647 wins and horses he has driven have earned over $855,000.00. As a licensed trainer, Carol sent one hundred and eighty three horses to the starting gate and her horses finished in the top 3, thirty three percent of the time. Over the years the Yohn Stable was home to many brood mares, both owned by them and by others. Carol always loved when they were asked to foal out mares at the farm, as most of their foals were born in Illinois. The days that Bob brought home mares with their babies were always fun ones on the farm.
Bob and Carol were very involved with the WHHA over the years and have an earnest commitment to the harness horse industry. Carol loved volunteering and giving of her time to many organizations. She served on the WHHA board for sixteen years, including more than seven years as Secretary/Treasurer. She was the WHHA Horseperson of the Year in 1985 and also spent many years serving on the Wisconsin State Horse Council. Carol was named the Wisconsin State Horse Council Horseperson of the Year in 1987. Bob received recognition as Top Ten Driver twenty-four times, more than any other WHHA member and his four Driver of the Year titles rank him third in the organization’s history. In addition, Bob is very proud to have represented our region to the United States Trotting Association since 1999. Bob and Carol also organized the Beaver Dam races for several years.
The WHHA organization is held in very high regard in the Yohn Family. In 1991, one of their beloved horses, Prairie Nancy, was inducted into the WHHA Hall of Fame; and in 2002, Richard Yohn, Bob’s father, was inducted into the WHHA Hall of Fame. With Bob in the race bike and Carol by his side, they were certainly a team in the Yohn Stable. Whether on the home track, or on the back stretch, Bob and Carol participated and thoroughly enjoyed the harness horse industry for decades. After a long trip home following a late race in Chicago; a celebration of a big stake win; or a road trip to a Wisconsin summer fair, Carol and Bob shared the highs and lows of harness racing and their life together-a team in the industry and a team in love.
Nominated by Del Moldenhauer and George “Woody” Woodbridge