Never at a loss for words, Smokey told it like it was-even when it came to his own garage.
The next day, France sent over a check for $1,500 with a note saying the check would take care of the flap at the track. I told the guy who brought it to wait. I took the check, soiled it, put it back in the envelope, and told the guy to take it back to Big Bill. About an hour later, here came Big Bill. He was furious. I threw a 4-pound hammer at him and just missed from 25 feet. He was gone in a flash.
"Don't Stall It"
At a dirt-track race in Savannah, Georgia, in 1953, I had two Hudson Hornets for Herb Thomas and Dick Rathmann. Thomas won the pole, but Dick was having problems. I kept telling Dick he was lifting too late in Turn 3. Finally, he gave me his helmet and said to show him. We climbed in the car. He had no seat, helmet, or harness. I told him to touch me when we got to the point where he lifted going into (Turn) 3. We went into the turn wide-open, and he never touched me. We spun around the biggest telephone pole I'd ever seen and left the door handle on the driver side sticking in the pole. The only thing Dick said was "Don't stall it."
One time we were at qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Driver Jim Hurtubise had a car he built himself. It was the old-style construction, with torsion bars and straight front axles. Everybody else had independent suspension. In fact, he had two cars-one he had wrecked and the other that wasn't ready. To hold your place in the qualifying order, you had to keep a car in line. When the track closed, the position you held at that time was the same one you got the next morning. That gave Jim all night to prepare his car. He put the car that wasn't ready on the line. Somebody challenged the legality of the car, which was sponsored by a beer company. The hood was raised, and there were four cases of beer holding up the exhaust header. There was no engine in it. (The car and beer are in a racing museum in Bedford, Indiana.)
One time I was at Concord (North Carolina) Speedway with a Chevy and driver Paul Goldsmith. Fireball Roberts was driving for rival Holman and Moody, Ford Motor's Stock car stable. Fireball, who lived in Daytona Beach, was learning to fly his own plane and didn't make the race because of bad weather. John Holman was carrying on about not being able to race Fireball's car. I told him I'd drive it, and he said, "OK." (Yunick drove in several races).
When I got ready to qualify, Fonty Flock advised me not to drive because the track was so full of holes and so slick I'd bust my tail. He said if I insisted, to let him lead me around the half-mile dirt track. We did that for 10 laps, and I was able to qualify.
Goldsmith wanted to know what he was going to do for a pit crew. I told him not to worry, that at about the 10th or 12th lap of the race I was going to crash that purple Ford through the fence just before entering Turn 3, then I'd return to his pit.
Shortly before the race started, Ralph Moody (Holman's partner) tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I'd be upset if Ralph Earnhardt (Dale's dad) drove Fireball's car? Moody had figured out my ruse-to wreck the car because it was a Ford. The kicker is that about three quarters through the race, somebody spun Earnhardt through the fence at exactly the same place I'd planned to wreck. I asked Earnhardt what took him so long to wreck.
It appeared that Herb Thomas was going to win the '53 Southern 500 in my Hudson Hornet. Pure Oil (now Union 76) had a big plywood check, showed me where to stand and how to hold it for postrace photographs. With 10 laps to go, the Hudson threw a rod through the side of the block onto the side of the track, within 50 feet of where I was standing. Buck Baker won the race and Herb finished fifth. I really felt bad until I got a good laugh-a fan who didn't like Hudson, Thomas, or me, ran out, picked up that hot connecting rod, and burned his hands.