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History Video: Henry "Smokey" Yunick Speaks

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bill McGuire, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. Speed Gems
    Joined: Jul 17, 2012
    Posts: 2,219

    Speed Gems

  2. Woogeroo
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 1,025

    from USA

    His autobiography is a riot... he called it like he saw it.

  3. It's pretty clear the car is not 7/8 or 15/16 scale. It's just tucked in real good.
  4. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,585


    I would suggest anyone who is building any kind of hi-performance or racing engine get a copy of his "Ppwer Secrets" book...
  5. He had some very interesting theories. Not all of them hold up today, but he didn't have the technological tools we are blessed with.
  6. c-10 simplex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,331

    c-10 simplex

    It is because of people like him is why WW2 was done and taken care of in 3.5 years. Unlike..............

    i'm not ashamed (well, actually i am, but i'm used to it) to admit that i don't measure up to him. Not just in mechanical aptitude, but many other areas---such as being human.

    i think people like him are, unfortunately, disappearing.
  7. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,231


    Well, is the story true, or not?
  8. I say no. I believe the story arose because a writer, maybe it was Eric Dahlquist, said the car was so nicely tucked in it was *almost like* a 15/16 scale model. But the car is not an actual 7/8 or 15/16 scale model in a real sense of them term, as in over the entire car. Just think what it would take to literally accomplish that.
  9. farmer12
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 7,718


  10. Ranunculous
    Joined: Nov 30, 2007
    Posts: 2,456


  11. Ranunculous
    Joined: Nov 30, 2007
    Posts: 2,456


  12. Ranunculous
    Joined: Nov 30, 2007
    Posts: 2,456



    I wouldn't say it was common to radically alter bodies in that time period,but if Junior could effect it,Smokey was just as savvy and more? Fun to think about.
    Both of these cars were designed and marketed in 1965,making them HAMB-friendly.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  13. I think both cars arose due to the Ford boycott as Big Bill sought ways to fill the field and the stands.
  14. Bad Banana
    Joined: Jun 20, 2008
    Posts: 769

    Bad Banana
    from Oklahoma

    Growing up, my dad always talked about Smokey Yunick and admired him. As a kid, I began reading everything I could find written by him. I read Power Secrets several times and even subscribed to Circle Track magazine when he used to answer letters in the back each month. I even wrote him one time hoping he would put my letter in the magazine but instead he wrote back to me with a personal letter that I still have. He said in the letter that he couldn’t use my question in the magazine but would be glad to talk to me about my questions if I gave him a call. He even gave me his phone number. I showed my dad the letter and he told me that I should go ahead and call him. At the time, I was scared I would not be able to have an intelligent conversation with a man like that. After all, what could a young uneducated wanna-be like me possibly talk to someone like that about? I finally did call a couple times but only got his answering machine (his message was hilarious)

    In October of 1998 I was at the Syracuse, NY state fairgrounds for the dirt modified race. I was crewing for a couple friends of mine at Super dirt week. We had a lot of used up parts and likely would barely qualify for the big race if at all. The race was sponsored by Prolong who Smokey was working for at the time. For those that don’t know, this is a week-long race and we camped in the parking lot all week. After the first day, one of our crew guys came back to the camp and said that he saw Smokey Yunick in the pits walking around. I didn’t believe him and jumped on a bicycle and rode back over to the infield. I was looking for this whole entourage of people crowded around him and figured I would just be able to see my racing idol from a distance. To my shock, I easily found him just walking down the pits alone with his long overcoat and signature cowboy hat.

    My heart was pounding and I kind of followed him for a bit and then swallowed hard and walked up to him and said his name. He immediately stopped and turned to me with a smile and stuck out his hand and greeted me with something (my head was going a million miles an hour as I was trying to come up with something intelligent to say). I finally stumbled out something about how it was great to finally meet him and how much I loved reading what he has written over the years. I also said we had an “older” car with and “older” engine and explained that we were struggling to run with these guys. Right away he asked if we ran “Prolong” products and my heart sank as I quietly mumbled “no”. He then asked me if we would run it if he gave me some. I said “sure” (wasn’t my car or engine but I figured free stuff from Smokey was worth its weight in gold and I wasn’t passing it up).

    He told me to go with him and he would hook me up. So there I was walking down through the pits alongside Smokey Yunick pushing a bicycle. I felt like I wished the whole world could see this. We finally went into a small building in the infield of the track and he gave me a couple of every promotional item he had which included a big poster of the infamous Chevelle. He autographed two of them… one to me and one to my dad. I had so much stuff I couldn’t carry it all so he grabbed one of the boxes that held his stuff and dumped it out and we put all of this stuff in it.

    I then asked him if he would take a look at our spark plugs out of the engine if I brought them to him along with a plug magnifier. He said sure and that he would be wandering around the pits. So I took off with my box of stuff and peddled as fast as I could with my big box of goodies back to our camp. I came sliding into camp and yelled to yank the plugs from the engine because Smokey was going to look at them.

    We did yank them and went back over and found him and he did look at them for us. Right away he pointed out that the engine was not “cut clean” and it was hard to see what he wanted to see. He did tell us some things and I hung on every word.

    The rest of the week, I ran into him several times and he either stopped and asked how we were doing or just nodded and acknowledged me when our paths crossed. He did stop into our pits once when we were in the middle of some sort of thrash. At one point and I looked up and there he stood just leaning against the back of our enclosed trailer watching like any regular guy.

    I would like to say we went on to win the big race but that isn’t even close to what happened. We weren’t fast enough to qualify and crashed while trying to race our way into the big event. We stayed to watch the big race and then drove home. It was a week I’ll never forget.

    I bought his 3 volume autobiography as soon as it came out right after he died. I have read all 3 volumes twice and I think I may read it again soon. He was a very unique individual that I can relate to and was lucky enough to meet once.





  15. BillWallace
    Joined: May 6, 2011
    Posts: 132


    Those are great stories & thanks for them. the thing that Smokey was the very best at was being Smokey. The times as they do for all of us had passed him by & racing development in America had followed the European model & now belonged to the degreed enginers but in his day he had really woken up stock car racing to engineering in the broadest sense.
  16. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,231


    Well, in the words of the inimitable Ray Perkins . . . "that's my story, and I'm sticking with it."

    Outstanding story Rusty! Just fantastic.
  17. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 870


    Yeah, big boobies will always be around. Mr. Yunick won't.
  18. volvobrynk
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,588

    from Denmark

    I'm just a stupid kid from out behind yaa-hoo/Hillbilly land, in Denmark.
    I love every thing about old cars, old motors and the good old days, but if there is anything that REALLY rocks my boat it odd stuff.

    If i should explain a gearhead who and what Smokey Yunick is, I would say:
    In a World where everything is about cars, find the car-mekka and about 10miles direction odd, long in the land of cool, is there only one possible king, and that guy still looks up to smokey!!!

    I love smokey stories, and I'm half way through Best damn garage in town. And love it, i devide my personal time between the HAMB and smokeys autobiografy.

    I really has something about that chevelle, that got so outlawed that he could even use it to test tires at a NASCAR track.

    And now it's time to go and read that link about the chevelle

    RIP Smokey.
  19. FEBCO
    Joined: Oct 27, 2008
    Posts: 74


    In early '69 I made a deal with Smokey for a big block for our Chevelle Grand National car ( Now Sprint Cup )....Went to pick it up and knowing engine builders have their "secrets" I asked what he would tell me about the engine....He said, 'I'll tell you anything you want to know"......I said then, "I just got to be smart enough to ask the questions"......He said, "Boy, I knew I liked you".....He was always friendly, helpful, and never failed to acknowledge me from then on....The 2 old mangy dogs even liked me....Going thru his shop back then was amazing.....I wish I'd have spent more time looking and talking, instead of hurrying home to put the car together...
  20. Great story, thanks. I had a rocky start with Smokey due to circumstances but he soon realized it wasn't personal and we were able to rise above them.
  21. My favorite Smokey car is that 66! I wish I could have been in on that conversation! I have read a bit about that car and Smokey in his autobiography.If you have not read this it is a MUST READ!!! I remember the intro and advertisements and Smokey says it's gonna piss some people off!!!! VERY SURPRISING info in those books!!!!I am going to read them over and over!!!! I would LOVE to hear any part of your chat you remember ( if I may be so bold) as I have been a Smokey fan forever but never got to meet the but through his book and reputation.Quite a wildman back in his day!!!!!
  22. He never divulged all the secrets to any one on his hot vapor engine.Even tho one still exists in running condition,no one can figue out how he made it work!!!! No shit!!!
  23. ago
    Joined: Oct 12, 2005
    Posts: 2,195

    from pgh. pa.

    Always been a fan of Smokey. Liked reading his answers in the back of Circle Track mag.

  24. When I first sat down and broke the ice, I told him that the '66 was my all-time favorite race car. I said, "That car must have taken a long time to build", and he told me that they built it in a back room at his shop in Daytona, away from the prying eye of the public. He said that it was especially cold in Florida that winter, and he was working on the car for nearly 20 hours a day and sleeping on an old Army cot in the corner. Lots of coffee, cigarettes, and no sleep caught up to him and he got pneumonia. He said that he was a sick as a dog nearly the entire time they built the the car. He said that "everything that was hanging out in the wind was tucked in", including the drip rails and the ends of the bumpers. He said "everything that wasn't flush was pushed out to the edges", like the windshield and side glass, which he flush mounted, and the grille. I wanted to ask him about the floorpans and the framerails, because I had heard that the rule book said "no belly pans", so he channelled the body to where the floor pan was even with the bottom of the frame rail.

    If you haven't read his autoboigraphy, it's a must-read. It has a tendency to bounce all over the place and repeat itself quite often, but the information in it is outstanding. I especially loved his stories about the early days of NASCAR. Those guys busted their ass during the day and partied their asses off at night. He absolutely hated the France family and did everything he could to be a thorn in Bill France Sr's side. There's a section where he talks about a lot of the NASCAR and Indy drivers of his time, and he holds NOTHING back. There's also a section called "What did Smokey Build?" that is incredible. The man was pure genius.
  25. Not often discussed but very well documented in both the Yunick and Van Valkenburgh books: the Chevelles were originally built by Chevrolet R&D in Michigan and then finished by Smokey on Beach St. in Daytona.

  26. IMO one of the greatest racing books ever. Have read it many times. In the story there's a link to the family site where it can be purchased. Paper, digital, and audio versions available.

    Video: Smokey Yunick Speaks | Mac's Motor City

  27. Waaaay cool Flat! Thanks for taking the time and effort to reply to my post! I envy you!
  28. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 5,497

    from Oregon

    Great video! A side of Smokey Yunick I've never heard. Very funny guy!

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