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View Full Version : The truth about Smokey Yunick’s 7/8-scale Chevelle



Billzilla
22-08-13, 06:41 AM
For gearheads, Smokey Yunick is an American folk hero, a current-day Mike Fink or Molly Pitcher. His exploits are the stuff of myth and legend—take his notorious ’66 Chevelle, for example.



Here’s proof that Smokey is a contemporary folk hero: People love to tell Smokey stories, even when they know the stories can’t be true. The tales seem to grow a bit taller with each telling. His hot-air Fiero used water for fuel; he raced a scale-model Chevelle right under NASCAR’s nose.

Check it out. When they’re talking about Smokey, people enjoy telling their own tall tales, adding their own embellishments. And that, folks, is where folklore comes from. If you think we’re knocking this phenomenon, quite the contrary. This is a special thing when you think about it: that a racing personality could attain the status of legend, and nearly in his own lifetime.

To understand the legends, maybe we could start with what we know to be true. In the case of Smokey’s Chevelle, we can start here: There wasn’t just one Chevelle; there were three. And the most notorious of them, the second one, wasn’t built by Smokey. It was constructed by Chevrolet Engineering back in Michigan, then finished by Smokey and a crew of Chevrolet technicians in his shop at 957 N. Beach Street in Daytona Beach.

http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/2013/08/21/the-truth-about-smokey-yunicks-78-scale-chevelle/

A short but interesting that puts the myth to bed.

JamesB
22-08-13, 07:17 AM
I've always been fascinated by his creative interpretation of the NASCAR rule book and his thinking outside the box.

Marv
22-08-13, 07:23 AM
The Chevelle might be myth but there was plenty of NASCAR/Indy stuff that wasn't :D Dude was an awesome engineer (and a Veteran, too)

DavidI
22-08-13, 08:35 AM
My favourite "Smokey" story is when he drove a car away after scrutineering - with the fuel tank still sitting on the ground. The rules required a maximum tank size, but didn't say anything about the fuel line. Smokey had run a 2" fuel pipe from the tank to the engine....... I'm convinced Fred Gibson did the same thing a Bathurst with the Winfield Commodores one year.

Gammaboy
22-08-13, 09:00 AM
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Shitbreak
22-08-13, 09:26 AM
Cliffs? While I have heard of this character, I am uninformed of his doings....

dat2kman
22-08-13, 09:26 AM
Certain Australian Group C touring cars had 50 mm wider bodyshells than the same bodyshell used by others
It was cut and shut straight down the middle, metal was easy to add, they even got Yuncken glass to widen the front/rear windscreen moulding.
Tyres fitted within bodywork, and suspension arms fiddled with,,,not a problem.
The two body shells were kept well away from other similar cars. Shells are long gone.
Info from head of manufacturing at the car company that made them.

hrd
22-08-13, 10:32 AM
I don't know how credible that website is. Their dodgy comparison photo is restared. They prattle on about how the length of the cars would be significantlydifferent if it were a scale model, then try to prove it wasn't a scale version by scaling two different photos until the cars are the same length? idiots.

But if their gridlines are to be believed, it shows not only the wheelbase difference they mention, but also some body differences - waaay longer rear wheel arch, pillars in different locations on the two cars relative to the extremities of the body... I'd call it substantially different rather than disapointingly stock.

Gammaboy
22-08-13, 10:55 AM
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Mr Purple
22-08-13, 11:03 AM
There's also a story about the Rover Vitesse 3500s that won the BSCC a few times throughout the 80s.

One of the drivers gave a story about how they damaged the door on one, and tried to replace it with a standard door from a road car. Apparently the standard door was about two inches too high...

Billzilla
22-08-13, 11:11 AM
Their point was that the car would bee obvious compared to the other cars on the track. Yunick talks about tucking the bumper in tighter and moving the wheels forward under the car in best damn garage.

Yep it's no more complex than that.

hrd
22-08-13, 11:58 AM
If that was thier only point, they didn't need a photo apparently trying to show scale line by line, inch by inch.

Gammaboy
22-08-13, 12:12 PM
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cheapracer
22-08-13, 12:52 PM
I don't know how credible that website is.

That's Bill McGuire's website, it's credible.

Bill is a reknown Detroit automotive historian, was Technical Editor of Hot Rot Magazine for many years amongst many other credits and a really nice guy.

hrd
22-08-13, 01:13 PM
They were showing the tucked bumper and moved wheels. Duh.

no, they're talking about the body:

There’s a similar but slightly less far-fetched version that says the Chevelle was a 15/16 model. Nice try, but such a mini-Chevelle would still be blatantly bogus, with its full-size wheels, lamps, and accoutrements sticking out on the shrunken body like swollen thumbs. So what was the real deal on Smokey’s Chevelle? Let’s do a straight comparison with the production version, line by line, inch by inch.

http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Two-1966-Chevelles.jpg

Well, look at that. DIsappointingly stock, isn’t it? It’s clearly not a scale model in any sense, and compared to the NASCAR stockers of later years, the car is remarkably unmodified. It’s just as Smokey insisted all along: The sheet metal was stock. The serious aero mods were under the car, where he attempted to smooth the floor pan—with debatable results.

They are using rescaled photos as proof it's not a scale model!

I don't car what magazine he's edited or how nice he is, the 'evidence' he uses and his analysis there is pretty crap.

Babalouie
22-08-13, 01:34 PM
I always thought that the 7/8s part would be the frontal area, so say a narrower glasshouse. Surely the aero advantage wouldn't be in making it shorter?

Billzilla
22-08-13, 01:35 PM
I always thought that the 7/8s part would be the frontal area, so say a narrower glasshouse. Surely the aero advantage wouldn't be in making it shorter?

Doesn't matter, it's just fiction.
I believe the car in question is sitting in a museum somewhere. It's easy enough to measure and no-one has come forward to say "it's two feet shorter!" or the like.

Scuba-Steve
22-08-13, 02:30 PM
My favourite "Smokey" story is when he drove a car away after scrutineering - with the fuel tank still sitting on the ground. The rules required a maximum tank size, but didn't say anything about the fuel line. Smokey had run a 2" fuel pipe from the tank to the engine....... I'm convinced Fred Gibson did the same thing a Bathurst with the Winfield Commodores one year.

We entered a demolition derby they give you a small fuel tank to use, we made the fuel like out of garden hose we over estimated how much hose we would need apparently 20m is more than enough to run from the boot of a 200b to the engine so we coiled the leftover hose up and put it under the floor at the back.

Mr Evo 7
22-08-13, 05:29 PM
Last derby car we built, we only took out what was mentioned in the rulebook.

We figured the heavier we were, the bigger the hit.

Paddington
22-08-13, 05:43 PM
I always thought that the 7/8s part would be the frontal area, so say a narrower glasshouse. Surely the aero advantage wouldn't be in making it shorter?

the 7/8 part always referred to the overall size. As in if you parked it next to a regular Chevelle, it would look like it had gone through a hot wash or a dryer.

What about the Banana Ford Galaxie that had a totally different roofline to other Galaxies?
http://www.hemmings.com/mus/stories/2010/09/01/hmn_feature4.html

http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/2013/01/29/daytona-500-countdown-day-minus-26/

Bueller
22-08-13, 06:34 PM
i always thought the 7/8ths part referred to the roof in height only, hence why nascar introduced those roof profile jigs for scruteneering?

irsa76
22-08-13, 07:05 PM
There's also a story about the Rover Vitesse 3500s that won the BSCC a few times throughout the 80s.

One of the drivers gave a story about how they damaged the door on one, and tried to replace it with a standard door from a road car. Apparently the standard door was about two inches too high...
Heard a similar story about Tom's personal ETCC/WTCC Rover Vitesse, among others. Saw one story that a favoured customer was running a TWR built Rover in the BTCC and noticed that his car was slightly different to Tom's WTCC car, apparently Tom's car was a couple of cm lower. Have heard numerous reports of ex TWR Group A Rover rotating assemblies not fitting into standard blocks unless clearenced.

Gammaboy
22-08-13, 07:30 PM
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Boo-urns
22-08-13, 07:43 PM
In the photo above it is clear that the length of the car has been tampered with, if you can't see the differences then you need your eyes checked.

Boo-urns
22-08-13, 07:47 PM
Can anyone verify smokey running his engine backwards as in the opposite rotation to the other cars, I heard this one it sounds very believable. The advantage was supposed to be that the torque twist of the engine helped pull the car back down to the inside of the track.

Billzilla
22-08-13, 07:49 PM
In the photo above it is clear that the length of the car has been tampered with, if you can't see the differences then you need your eyes checked.

The only significant difference is the placement of the front bumper-bar.
Have a read of the page I linked to, it explains all the differences.




Can anyone verify smokey running his engine backwards as in the opposite rotation to the other cars, I heard this one it sounds very believable. The advantage was supposed to be that the torque twist of the engine helped pull the car back down to the inside of the track.

On some of his Indy cars, yes. His theory was that the torque reaction would help keep the front-left wheel better planted. If you read his biography he said it did, but the effect it not really very strong. (depends on the car & suspension set-up, etc)

BeverlyHillsCop
22-08-13, 07:55 PM
Can anyone verify smokey running his engine backwards as in the opposite rotation to the other cars, I heard this one it sounds very believable. The advantage was supposed to be that the torque twist of the engine helped pull the car back down to the inside of the track.

I spoke with my uncle. he verified this.

StanM3
22-08-13, 08:15 PM
Same reason the spun the Evo Lancer engine 180 degrees (Evo4?) so the torque pulled the nose of the car down, rather than up.

Gammaboy
22-08-13, 08:33 PM
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BeverlyHillsCop
22-08-13, 08:39 PM
Nope, they did that so they could drop a camshaft out of the box, reducing cost and power losses. Torque reactions would have been a very minor consideration.

yeah this was my understanding as well....

Both engines (evo 3 - 4) rotate same direction dont they??

StanM3
22-08-13, 08:39 PM
Nope, they did that so they could drop a camshaft out of the box, reducing cost and power losses. Torque reactions would have been a very minor consideration.

I stand corrected :)

Gammaboy
22-08-13, 08:48 PM
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Gammaboy
22-08-13, 08:48 PM
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StanM3
22-08-13, 08:55 PM
That should have read layshaft.

I knew what you meant.

Mr Evo 7
22-08-13, 09:26 PM
Evo 4-onwards had the gearbag on the passenger's side.

GTV
22-08-13, 09:33 PM
http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=42&t=1023573&mid=0&i=0&nmt=Engineered+rule+bending&mid=0

scooby36
22-08-13, 09:54 PM
love nascar rule bending :D

took these pics earlier in the year at Hendricks museum/shop .. JJ's 07 cup car before the COT tightened up the symmetry tolerances within the templates:
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-s15ibvxX55A/UasbvgzazoI/AAAAAAAAAY8/owWbyQ0Biik/w913-h685-no/IMG_20130524_170714.jpg
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gUNx-EigOR4/Uasbhb_HcVI/AAAAAAAAAY0/gpCrv_he5c4/w913-h685-no/IMG_20130524_170628.jpg

bent like a kidney bean helped it aerodynamically want to turn left + more downforce in the shape of the front left guard

StanM3
22-08-13, 09:58 PM
http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=42&t=1023573&mid=0&i=0&nmt=Engineered+rule+bending&mid=0

Interesting read.

JamesB
22-08-13, 11:12 PM
American Muscle Car - S03E03 - The Copo Cars


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmlHCoGKh68

Worth watching for the section on the cars built by Yenko Chevrolet and how that lead to the factory built COPO cars.

dsm2002
22-08-13, 11:20 PM
The only significant difference is the placement of the front bumper-bar.
Have a read of the page I linked to, it explains all the differences.



An rough and not very sophisticated overlay of dots of major identifiable points suggests that webpage's assessment is not all that rigourous. Firstly to get the dots on the leading and trailing edges to roughly align, I had to increase the image of Yunnick's chev by near 1%. It's subtle but the upper image is shorter than the lower image.

A simple explanation that the body has moved back over the chassis is not adequate based on location of the centre point of the wheels. The blue and yellow dots spotted around the cabin (base and top of the A pillars, C pillars, door locks and leading edge of the rear window glass) are also mis-aligned. The mis-alignments are greater than the error in dot placement in my view.

Ok so what does my comparison prove? As I said I manipulated one of the images to line up the leading and trailing dots. It could be that both images are not the same perspective and both are not directly square on (likely!). It could be that accident damage at some time in either car is shorter or longer than the other, or both means either of the leading and/or trailing dots are correctly placed. I increased both of the horizontal and vertical dimensions by the same amount. It could be the original manipulation of the images introduced a distortion. Who knows?

http://performanceforums.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=67973&d=1377175530


67973

scooby36
23-08-13, 07:28 AM
very cool, love your investigative work dsm :D

Gammaboy
23-08-13, 07:46 AM
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hrd
23-08-13, 08:34 AM
you're also ignoring the rearmost point... and that the horizontal offset at the C pillar and door handle is great than it is at the A pillar, the top of the A and B pillars has more vertical offset than the base of them, and the rear wheelarch is an imperial fuckload longer... "Disappointingly stock", it most certainly isn't.

Another problem is they never detailed what model they compared it to. All 3 of Smokey's Chevelle's reportedly used 1966 fronts as he felt they were areodynamically superior to the later bodywork. What year model is the production version pictured? They don't ever specify that, or which of the 3 smokey Chevelle's they pictured for that matter.

I think they also make a mistake by describing the second of his Chevelle's as the most notorious of the three. The third one which never actually competed, and prompted him to take his bat and ball and fuck off would surely take those honours???

It's just a shit comparison all round. You can't use that article as proof of anything. I'm not saying he did run a scale model. Just that that analysis is so flawed in so many ways, it's worthless. The only clearly undisputed fact they mention is that the Nascar template did not fit Smokey's Chevelle. They say it, Nascar said it, and Smokey also accepts it (albeit with qualifications/excuses).

Faux Forg
23-08-13, 08:53 AM
http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTKBl0ECMLfplSVOAfTc4y45GJ8X8gCh QE3-7yuJMT4zVf0J75bvw

Bill McGuire
23-08-13, 03:31 PM
I don't know how credible that website is. Their dodgy comparison photo is restared. They prattle on about how the length of the cars would be significantlydifferent if it were a scale model, then try to prove it wasn't a scale version by scaling two different photos until the cars are the same length? idiots.



Hi.

Marv
23-08-13, 03:58 PM
Hey Billzilla, thanks for giving me an idea for a cheap page of content :P :D

Billzilla
23-08-13, 04:00 PM
Hey Billzilla, thanks for giving me an idea for a cheap page of content :P :D

Best ask Bill Mc for permission to put it into print first.

mizone
23-08-13, 04:00 PM
I miss Smokey. His articles were the best bit about Circle Track Magazine.

NASCAR telling him that his car was wrong because it didn't meet the "factory silhouette" template, so he pulled a factory one from the car park and that didn't meet the template either. Using the bell housing to generate boost. We tried that after a night out, lots of beer, a dremel and some heater ducting on a poor 70's Civic.

Marv
23-08-13, 04:10 PM
Best ask Bill Mc for permission to put it into print first.

I used it (with further research & detail) as inspiration to re-tell the story a slightly different way - that's all I meant.

Billzilla
23-08-13, 04:12 PM
Fairy nuff.

scooby36
23-08-13, 04:54 PM
wow, learn something new everyday... who ever know about T-Rex from 1997.. completely redesigned from the ground up by a group of 60 engineers to exploit the nascar rulebook to the max

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2523/3707803877_a809f2da36_o.jpg

full story + vid here
http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthread.php?p=22089641

Better story here:
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/86701-jeff-gordon-flashback-t-rex-set-nascar-on-its-ear-with-1997-winston-win

Bill McGuire
23-08-13, 11:42 PM
Can anyone verify smokey running his engine backwards as in the opposite rotation to the other cars, I heard this one it sounds very believable. The advantage was supposed to be that the torque twist of the engine helped pull the car back down to the inside of the track.

That would be his Indy car of 1959, Smokey Yunick's Reverse Torque Special. Story here:

http://www.macsmotorcitygarage.com/2013/07/28/another-look-at-smokey-yunicks-reverse-torque-special/

Bill McGuire
25-08-13, 09:52 PM
Best Damn Garage in Town talks in quite a bit of detail on the 67 car.

Indeed, an entire chapter. The other good source (also referenced in the story) is Chevrolet -- Racing?, the infamous book by ex-GM engineer Paul Van Valkenburgh.

Mini
25-08-13, 10:46 PM
Was it Smokey who when confronted by new ride height regulations and a drive over gauge took the dampers off, froze them when extended and when they were re-fitted the car was at legal height long enough for it to comply. Sounds like a good story, I wonder how true it is.