Best Damn Garage in Town: The World According to Smokey
3 Volume set with slipcase, 1,100 pages, 409 photographs and illustrations, all black and white, weighs 11 pounds, indexed.
Smokey got the idea for writing a history of stock car racing after giving a talk to explain racing to a group of kids at Lowe’s Motorspeedway, around 1995. He realized that all the people who were a part of the early days were dying and most of the ones who were still alive were too involved with racing to be able to tell the real stories. He started writing this book as a history of stock car racing and ended up with look at American history of the past 60 years through a very unique set of eyes.
The first volume, Walkin’ Under a Snake’s Belly, covers Smokey’s life outside racing, beginning with growing up in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania on a farm, dropping out of high school to take care of the family and going off to World War II as a B-17 pilot. The war stories are told through the eyes of a young man who believed all that the Army Air Corps taught him, but he had a mind of his own and was also hell-bent on having fun at all costs. (If that meant irritating a few generals, then that was just par for the course.)
After the racing years, Smokey ended spending most of his time working on his inventions and working in the oil and gold fields of Ecuador. Along the way, Smokey had a knack for finding fun and adventure everywhere he went. Alcohol, women and speed were his main addictions - he eventually gave up alcohol, but never did give up the other two.
The second volume, All Right You Sons-a-Bitches, Let’s Have a Race, chronicles the stock car racing years in living color. The warning on these books, that they are not to be read by those under 18 unless they are with a grandparent who can translate the social and moral implications of the stories, is not to be taken lightly. (Smokey even includes his own dictionary to explain the terms that racers used in the early days to the uninformed.) Smokey and his band of merry compatriots were racers and there were only two things on their mind when the sun went down – women and booze. Smokey had his share of both during 15 years of racing, when racers were looked down on as the dregs of society. Nothing could stop his dream of being the fastest at the sport he loved, no matter what happened along the way – the sign of a true racer.
During his years in stock car racing, Smokey fell in love with a mistress that he would visit every May for over 20 years – The Indianapolis 500. The first half of the third volume, Li’l Skinny Rule Book, covers his love of this famed event and the wonderful stories of the days before the big corporate sponsors; when it was just men and their machines, sleeping on the floor in the garage and most times coming home with nothing. As the title implies, Smokey loved Indy because the rules were so simple. His inventive mind and knack for thinking way outside the box were at their best when Indy was involved.
The second half of the third volume, Eatin’ an Elephant, covers his years of inventing inside and outside of racing. Smokey’s 10 patents don’t begin to cover the breadth and depth of his inventing. His work with the car companies and on the racetrack led to a host of developments that have improved surface transportation for everyone. The value of some of his ideas and inventions, like his famous hot vapor engine, were never fully realized.
Many books have been written about the last 50 years of American history, but few are this entertaining, revealing and introspective all at the same time. Real stories from World War II, stock cars, the automotive industry and the Mexican Road Race are just a few of the elements in Smokey’s autobiography. They combine to make Best Damn Garage in Town…The World According to Smokey one of the most interesting books in a long time.
"It’s the best book I have ever read – bar none! I couldn’t put it down...nobody could." -- John DeLorean
BDGIT is a great damn book about a great damn man, the likes of which we will never see again. -- SpeedFX.com, Matt McGlaughlin
I’ve spent hours blowing off my duties here at the office, unable to pull myself from these sweet, straight-shooting pages. -- Hot Rod Magazine, Jeff Koch
Smokey didn’t suffer fools gladly, and he called them all to task in his posthumous 1,100-page, self-published, three-volume tome. -- Hot Rod Magazine, Jeff Koch
Smokey was a one-man Greatest Generation whose World War II adventures seem divided between hot planes and hot nurses. -- The New York Times, Robert Lipsyte
From the Publisher
Smokey Yunick wanted didn’t want an editor changing what he had written and he didn’t want a publisher telling him he had to remove all the controversial parts. So he did what everybody expected he would do: he started his own publishing company to make sure the book was published just the way he wanted it to be.
Smokey wanted the more than 400 photographs to be used in the stories, rather than in a special section. He wanted the text to be large enough for everyone to be able to read it. He wanted the photos to be large enough where the reader could really see what was going on. And he wanted it on really nice paper so everything would look good. In short, he wanted it done his way.
The result of all of his ideas is this 3-volume 1,100 page set. The interest in this book has been unbelievable even before it was finished. Over 500 copies were sold before the book was even printed. We have sold over 7,000 copies directly to race fans, history buffs and anybody who enjoys the real stories of a racer, mechanic, patriot and scoundrel, all rolled into one.
Now that Smokey’s book has reached general release, we do feel it is appropriate that we repeat the warning he included at the beginning:
Warning: This book is written in "Old Southern Racing English." Anyone under the age of eighteen should read this book in the company of a grandfather race fan for translation regarding language, social and moral interpretations.
Basically, this book tells the stories from the early days of racing just the way they happened – nothing is sugar-coated or cleaned up. It’s not politically correct or grammatically correct – but neither was Smokey! Enjoy.
From the Author
I believe I wrote this book because of Reverend Hal Marchman’s introduction of me to a bunch of kids at Darlington in 1996. Suddenly, it dawned on me that racing had no past...it was lost. So doesn't that go hand in hand - it therefore will have no future?
NASCAR's past up to 1970 was burned at the city dump. I decided to write the book in as close a way as it actually happened...including language and racer's view of our part of the world. We had a status of a "mon-backer"...you know the guy on the back of a garbage truck saying "mon-back, mon-back." We were considered - and maybe we were - social trash...couldn’t borrow money, couldn’t buy insurance, couldn’t even stay in good a good hotel...had zero credit.
I doubt many people have ever lived the adventures I have. I believe my life’s experiences afforded me an almost impossible act to follow...not by plan...but by the natural flow of life.
I want this book written and read in such a way you and I are sitting on a porch in rockin’ chairs...you asking the questions and I’m giving you the real story. I know the book will cause some problems...there is no way to please everyone. For those who are ashamed of what you did...you did it. I’m not proud of all I did and I have tried to include my warts and bad stuff also.
If you have a legitimate criticism, let me have it...I’m not a model, but I believe my life has a loud and clear message. I think the Army says it best..."Be all that you can be." With my uncouth delivery, I still miss "thank you," "please,""you’re welcome," "I appreciate it." Kinda like the moose in the Pep Boys commercial, when he asks if the good brakes come from Pep Boys, and he says, "I appreciate that."
Proud to have been a racer? Yes. I am.
Would I trade today? No way.
Any regrets? Yup. I wanted to win every race I run in.
Any advice to those behind me? Yes. Identify your life target early and then lock on...let nothing deter you.
Henry "Smokey" Yunick, PhD
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Enjoyed the WW2 chapters but the rest of the book was kinda so-so. I suppose I was counting on more stories of bending NASCAR rules. But it is a story about Smokey's LIFE. And it does a good job if outlining his many adventures.
I guess I just wasn't interested in South America. But I'm sure he had a "time" down there. You sure can't say that the man didn't live while he was alive.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
What a great trio of books!
By Orlando Rigueira
Treated myself for my birthday with this 3 book set. In the 80's I had built a flowbench and at the time the Smokey power secrets had just come out and it was the most informative and accurate information on flowbench use and cylinder head prep for that period (early 80's) A friend told me about this set and I have to say at two days shy of my 68th birthday this was hands down the best read that I can every remember. All the above posts tell the story already but it's hard to fathom all the different things this guy did in one lifetime and the fact that he still remembers so much of it. The book has lots of pictures from childhood, WW2, racing and his exploits in South America. He covers it all in amazing detail warts and all. Just fantastic. What a life lived!!
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Smokey's book is different, just like Smokey
Smokey Yunick was a legend in motorsports . He built vehicles and engines for many types of racing . His book is as different as he
was . You have to be very interested in Smokey's career and the people he interacted with to wade through this very long and often boring autobiography. Sadly, Smokey was not a good writer, and has no identifiable literary style. He spends a lot of time detailing his exploits with women in his early years, which is not especially interesting. When telling of his exploits with racing , he pulls no punches , and many of his former associates ( the ones still alive) will be furious with his opinions. But, that was Smokey , controversial to the end .