February 14, 2002|By Rich Mckay, Sentinel Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH — He was a automated ability who proudly alleged his boutique the “Best Damn Barn in Town.”
The backward Henry “Smokey” Yunick embodied NASCAR’s old academy — a profane, pipe-smoking artisan in the canicule afore auto antagonism had a King or an Intimidator. He was a fable who acclimated his congenital adeptness — and a apathy for the rules — to cascade acceleration into engines in the canicule back drivers rode the aforementioned car to work, abbey and about the track.
FOR THE RECORD – ********** CORRECTION PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 16, 2002 **********The explanation with a book photograph of the backward race-car artisan Smokey Yunick on Page A17 Thursday misstated the year the account was taken. The photograph was taken in 1980.*************************************************************
Relics of that time abode the dust and grease-layered Daytona Beach boutique area Yunick spent 40 years architecture engines for acclaimed racers such as Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, who formed day jobs to abutment their families and accelerated habits.
This week, it’s all up for grabs — engines, crankcases, hammers, wrenches and added — in what for antagonism admirers is the ultimate barn sale. It additionally marks the end of an era, a time back NASCAR was a blue-collar action whose stars weren’t all that abundant altered from the fans. NASCAR is a altered beastly today — a billion-dollar industry whose contest air on civic TV and affection drivers with anxiously coifed hair, artist sunglasses and antagonism apparel accustomed the logos of Fortune 500 companies. Yunick’s garage, at Beach and Second streets, apparently isn’t account as abundant as the million-dollar motor homes that drivers use to biking from chase to race.
But the actuality that Smokey capital it all awash to admirers tells abundant about the man and his times. According to his widow, Marge, Yunick feared some aerial roller would appear forth and try to accomplish a building or altar out of his barn and its contents. That wouldn’t sit able-bodied with a man who wore a cowboy hat, smoked a corncob aqueduct and wore grease-stained mechanics clothes.
“That’s aloof not Smokey’s style,” said chase fan Bill Chubbuck, 62, of Waynesville, N.C., walking out with some board templates for an old Ford fender and an apparatus panel.
On Wednesday, Marge Yunick was affairs aggregate from fender hammers for $5 to boxes of racecar genitalia for $20 to a hand-built agent that gets 80 afar to the gallon. The engine’s amount tag: $20,000. It wasn’t sold, but the ancestors promises it will “burn rubber.”
There were endless of hubcaps and bankrupt pipes. An old GMC assurance from the 1950s that still works. Yunick’s old chiral typewriter, which ability not.
“We’re like a junkyard, but a capital junkyard,” Marge Yunick said. “He wants all this put to use. Or for a fan to accept it as a treasure, a allotment of his magic.”
Fans — in boondocks for today’s Gatorade 125s and Sunday’s Daytona 500 — came by the hundreds, some from as far abroad as Maine and Oregon. Many were association who accept afraid out at advance and garages for decades. Some, like 52-year-old Mark Jones of Forest, Miss., had met Yunick.
Jones recalled allurement Yunick a brace of decades ago area he could buy one of the “Best Damn Garage” mechanics uniforms Yunick wore.
“So Smokey sells me the shirt he’s cutting and asks if I appetite the pants too,” Jones said. “I said yes, and Smokey went home in his boxers. It amount me $50.”
Margie Yunick piped in, “I had aloof bought him new ones (boxers). Thank God.”
Chubbuck alleged Yunick one of the best avant-garde mechanics ever. Though he had alone an eighth-grade education, Yunick was one of the aboriginal to alpha attractive at cars with an eye against aerodynamics. A self-taught engineer, he was already on the awning of Popular Science and captivated a dozen patents.
He was accepted a apparent for a racetrack assurance bank fabricated of tires not continued afore he died aftermost May, aloof shy of his 78th birthday, from leukemia.
Some batten admiringly of what they affably alleged Yunick’s adulation of “stretching the rules.” But Yunick’s son-in-law, Chris Brown, was added direct, calling him NASCAR’s wiliest cheater. Yunick begin advantage in aggregate and annihilation not set bottomward in the “lil’ angular rulebook,” as hecalled NASCAR regulations of the day.
Brown boasted that Yunick already got about arestriction on the admeasurement of a car’s gas catchbasin by abacus abundant angled nut tubing to authority a brace of added gallons. He got abroad with that once.
But he was additionally assurance conscious. Yunick beggared aggregation with NASCAR arbiter Bill France because he capital to adapt ammunition tanks afterwards his acquaintance Fireball Roberts died of burns suffered back he addled his car in 1964. But France banned to admittance the changes.
So Yunick larboard NASCAR –and focused on Indy contest and apparatus for the aing 36 years.
The three-day auction takes a breach for today’s races, but it will resume Friday and Saturday. Back it’s over, said Yunick’s daughter, Trish Yunick Brown, the ancestors is not abiding what to do with annihilation larboard unsold.
One thing’s for sure. She’s not befitting it.
“I don’t charge any of it,” she said. “I accept his stories.”
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