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Best Damn Garage in Town: The World According to Smokey [Paperback]

Henry Yunick
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 2002
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.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "BugSmasher" Feb. 19 2014
Format:Paperback
"NO HOLDS BARRED" might better phrase Smokey. If you are a racer, car builder, mechanic, whatever, you're sure to find this read very entertaining ! In fact I'm sure you will learn a few things ! Really this is "Smokey's" life story from beginning to end. Smokey does get his points across just as if he's your Uncle or good friend just sit'n back on the porch pass'n the time on a nice day. In my circle of friends way back when we would hear a rumour of something the man had pulled off in racing which was aptly put by Richard Petty as just try'n a bit harder.A little of that:"Well they didn't say you couldn't do that in the Rule Book" is exposed. A little spicy language here & there with just a dose of what some could label "Offensive" to get a point across or understood. AND, "Expose",he does probably to the dismay of certain people.The man was an absolute genius in many ways & you'll learn about it right here. I stopped telling people of some of his "Try'n Harder" secrets as they would look at me like I was crazy but a few of those secrets are right here in this read with a lot of great B&W photos from his personal collection.Tragedy,love,comedy,war,racing,the man's life & career are all here brought to you in only the manner one man could tell it - "Smokey Yunick" Definitely "FIVE STARS" !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tellin it like it is Nov. 7 2003
Format:Paperback
Smokey tells it just like he sees it. No political correctness here. If he thinks something stinks, he says so. He has no love lost for Bill France and company, but respects many others.
His writing style is straight to the point, amusing and raw. But it's the way he sees things...and he repeats that point...that it's just his opinion and urges the reader to make up their own mind.
I highly recommend this set. And I salute you, Smokey.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every dollar and every minute Jan. 25 2006
By JSR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Simply put this is one of the best books about racing I have ever read. Smokey's stories are entertaining, hilarious, and insightful. His kind will not be by this way again! If you like racing of any kind, this book is a must read. It is well worth both the time and the money.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tellin it like it is Nov. 7 2003
By Ray the Rat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Smokey tells it just like he sees it. No political correctness here. If he thinks something stinks, he says so. He has no love lost for Bill France and company, but respects many others.
His writing style is straight to the point, amusing and raw. But it's the way he sees things...and he repeats that point...that it's just his opinion and urges the reader to make up their own mind.
I highly recommend this set. And I salute you, Smokey.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Know Racing. Know Smokey! Oct. 30 2003
By J. Booth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Smokey Yunick, as many know, was a no non-sense guy who not only loved and lived cars and racing - he WAS cars and racing.
Whether you were a backyard teen-mechanic from the 60's, or a professional mechanic or racer, your entire life was -and still is- influenced by Henry "Smokey" Yunick.
I never met Smokey, but because of my older brother's avid passion as a mechanic and certified 'car nut', I heard all about him for years.
My brother told me about the book: hinting real hard that, "..he'd love to have it!" So, I hustled a copy of this book for my own reading from a 'grease monkey' friend. After only the first brief review, I knew this would truly be a life-time gift for my brother.
He loves it! Reading this tome on the history of the 'gas engine racing legend': Smokey Yunick; especially because it's in Smokey's own writing and words; is a treasure to him. Every week he thanks me for the gift.
Get the book - before you can't find it. It's not cheap now .. and will only get more expensive with time. The really good stuff does this, you know!
This is an heirloom - not just a book. Even if you're not 'into reading' a 'typical book' .. this is like picking up the ultimate Chilton's! You won't be able to put it down. And besides, with this book you'll learn more than you've already forgotten!
Enjoy !!!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking outside the box Feb. 28 2003
By Clinton E. Roush - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Don't let Smokey's style of storytelling stop you. When you finish all three volumes you will have probed the mind of a true hero. I wish Smokey had written this book sooner. I met Smokey, at Indy, in the early 90's. Today I would have much more to talk to him about. Smokey was the example of "Thinking outside the box"
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Damn Book To Have In Your Racing Collection Jan. 15 2003
By Ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When Smoke said he'd tell like it is, he didn't lie! The history lesson he gives you is worth its weight in gold.There is so much to learn and appreciate from his book. He was a unique man, with a colorful history and not just in racing. I have attended numerous lectures and roundtable discussions he held at the annual PRI shows, they were always one of my favorite things to go to. Only way to desribe Smokey in my book is, he was one smart cat! Whether some of his "Associates" will admit it or not, they will definetly miss his insight,his wisdom, and his courage to step over the line. Thank You Smokey for All That You Have Done.
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