The No. 13, a 1967 model Chevelle, with 1966 front fenders and hood, was one of, if not th
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.
The interior of the car was sparse compared to today's stock cars. Missing are the cross b
The front bumper was fitted to the fenders and the front of the hood tightly for better ae
One neat little trick we saw was the back of the car's roof. At the very rear, above the r
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.
At the rear we see where Smokey closed in the area under the fuel tank and extended the fl
The interior behind the driver was well constructed with cross bracing to the rear clip an
The fuel tank quick fill tube location conflicted with the support brace tube to the rear
Under the car, we see a lot of aero work and here is evidence of the headers being positio
The following week, again according to what Smokey told me, he got a letter from France apologizing and in the envelope was a check for, I think he said, $1,500 to cover his "expenses." Smokey said he, "took the check into the bathroom, soiled it, and sent it back." Such was the nature of Smokey.
The car ended up being "sold" to a dirt racer in Georgia. About 1987, a racer whom I talk to a lot these days, Richard Brashear, called Smokey and said he wanted to buy the car. Smokey told him that it had already been sold, but upon reflection realized it had not been paid for. So, he went about finding it, taking it back, and restoring it. Poor Brashear never heard from him again about it.
The refurbished car was eventually sold for $100,000 and is now on the market again for $950,000 residing at Canepa Design in Scotts Valley, California, as of this writing. I noticed the ad for the car had photos and contacted Robert Jordan who agreed to let us use the photos to explain how the car was built and highlight some of the innovations. So, without further ado . . .
Yunick preps the Chevelle prior to the 1967 Daytona 100 qualifying race. Curtis Turner wou
Before The Restore
When news that Smokey's legendary Chevelle had been restored to like-new condition hit our office, we naturally jumped on the story. But we also thought it would be fun to delve into the Circle Track archives and see if we could locate any period pictures of the car. As Bob mentioned at the top of the story, Smokey actually built more than one Chevelle. Here are some pictures of those cars. And for the story of this car in Smokey's own words pick up a copy of Best Damn Garage in Town and turn to page 319 in "All Right You Sons-a-Bitches, Let's Have a Race." It's available at www.smokeyyunick.com.
We wish to thank Canepa Design for the use of the photos. We're sure now that we know more about how technically advanced and innovative this car is that there will be more interest in it. I think if NASCAR would have allowed it to compete, it could have changed the face of stock car racing long before custom frames were allowed and innovation was suppressed. Imagine for a moment if stock car racers were as free to design and build creatively, similar to the Smokey car, like they do in Formula 1, where the sport would be today. One can only guess. Is it too late? Not in my opinion.
Now we are getting to the suspension innovations. We already stated that the frame was com
Here's a very good view of the Watts link, a very radical design for a stock car, even in
Circle Track Archives: This is it, the Chevelle that NASCAR outlawed before it ever turned
Smokey under the hood of the 1966 Chevelle, the first of two Chevelles that came from the
Curtis Turner's early exit from the American 500 at Rockingham Speedway in October of 1966
With the springs mounted behind the rearend and very close to the wheel, the car had a wid