In the winter of 1967-1968, Smokey Yunick built the second of two Chevelle NASCAR stock cars, the first driven by Curtis Turner who put it on the pole for the 1967 Daytona 500 and crashed it at Atlanta, destroying it. The legend and folklore that surrounds this second car is by far bigger than any car in the history of stock car racing. It was not only aerodynamically advanced, but as we now know, the design of its suspension system was advanced far beyond its years.

Numerous articles have been written over the years with varying descriptions about what went on with this car, discussion about if and how he did this and that, and even in Smokey's book he leaves out some juicy details that were shared with me in 1997 in a casual conversation. Some of the minor details will never be fully known, but the following is what I know from talking with him about it.

The real story starts with Smokey working all winter building this car. At that time, stock cars were basically highly modified street cars where you would strengthen the stock components, remove unnecessary parts and pieces, install a rollcage, build up the motor, throw on some fat tires, and go racing. That was OK, but not Smokey's way of doing things. You see, he had been to Indy and had discussed chassis engineering with some of the best engineers in racing. He came away from that with a better understanding of what a race car needed to be. He was going to change the way stock car racing was done.

As we will see, this was to be a car that in many ways was like the NASCAR race cars of today and in some ways, more advanced. Unfortunately, this car never raced, even once. As Smokey labored away, he got a cold that turned into, basically, walking pneumonia. Several weeks before the 1968 Daytona 500 week, according to Smokey's book and the interview I had with him in 1997, he called Big Bill France and asked him if there were going to be any problems with this car getting through inspection. He was assured that everything would be OK. Up to that point, he and Bill were friends.

Then when he arrived at the track, in inspection, he was handed a list of things he had to fix in order to be able to race the car. At the top of the list was to change the frame to a production Ford frame, like everyone else was using in those days because of the strength. Smokey had built an entirely custom frame, much like those in today's Nascar Sprint Cup race cars. The entire car was built around that frame. His car was basically outlawed then and there.

If you've ever read anything at all about Smokey, you will know that he had somewhat of a temper. Well, he lost it. The officials refused to give him fuel, so, as he told me, he asked one of his crew to go outside the track and get 5 gallons in a can. Knowing he would get fuel somehow, they relented and pumped some racing fuel into a can. He dumped that into the tank, fired it up, and drove over to the trailer to load it up.

Somewhere along the way, Smokey changed his mind. Instead, he drove out of the track onto Volusia Ave. (now known as International Speedway Blvd.) and toward his shop at the far end of mainland Daytona. Some writers in the following years, disputed he did that. I grew up in Daytona and was standing on the corner of Volusia and Campbell St. (now known as MLK Blvd.) when he stopped at the red light. When I told him I had seen him stop at that light, his reply was, "Well, that's the only one I stopped at."

Smokey went on to tell me that when France arrived at his shop soon after he had, he picked up a 4-pound hammer and threw it at him, missing by inches and striking France's new Pontiac in the front fender leaving a big ol' dent, at which time Big Bill left.