Auto Service World
News   April 17, 2002   by Auto Service World

Smokey Gets His Wings


Legendary engine builder and motorsports personality "Smokey" Yunick, who died last May at age 78, is being named a "Racing Angel" today at the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Prolong Super Lubricants, Inc. announced today that Henry “Smokey” Yunick will be posthumously presented Prolong’s “Racing Angel” award for 2002 in conjunction with the 12th annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction in Talladega, Ala., on April 17th.
The “Racing Angel” award identifies and acknowledges individuals exemplifying extraordinary achievements, determination and charitable goodwill within the motorsports community. The award will be presented by Linda Vaughn, the first lady of motorsports, who also is a Hall of Fame inductee and a tireless motorsports goodwill ambassador.
Yunick from Daytona Beach, Florida, was well known for Smokey’s, “The Best Damn Garage in Town.” It most certainly was, as he fielded stock cars that won eight victories in 61 starts as an owner and more than 50 winners as a crew chief, chief mechanic or engine builder. In 1960, Mr. Yunick was crew chief for Jim Rathmann, the winner of the Indianapolis 500.
Famous drivers including Fireball Roberts, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Issac, Banjo Matthews and others drove Mr. Yunick’s cars, which won the 1961 and 1962 Daytona 500 and several Winston Cup races at the Daytona International Speedway. When the Hall of Fame in Talladega inducted him in 1990, they acknowledged Mr. Yunick as the world’s premier mechanical engineer.
“Smokey was well known as a mechanical genius, helping to develop Chevrolet’s original small-block V-8 engine of 1955, power steering, the hot vapor engine, and many, many other innovations,” said Elton Alderman, president and CEO of Prolong International. “Smokey helped me, and many, many others, get started to pursue their interest in the automotive and motorsports worlds and we are delighted to present his family with this award. No one did it quite like Smokey. He was a brilliant man, fun to be with, and we all learned from him.”
Prolong’s “Racing Angel” award, conceived by Linda Vaughn, was previously given to T. Wayne Robertson, the sports marketing legend, and Bill France Jr., president of NASCAR. Noted motorsports sculptor Ivan Fuller created the striking bronze sculpture depicting a racing angel, which is on permanent display at the Motorsports Hall of Fame museum in Talladega, Ala.