We Share a Few Nuggets of Smokey’s Wisdom

Jim McFarland

Over the span of a 50-year career in the high-performance and racing industry, I’ve had the good fortune to meet and come to know some highly experienced racers and engine builders, particularly Smokey Yunick. I’ve also had an opportunity to respond to the tech questions and problems a range of readers and enthusiasts. This has caused my brain bucket to be chockfull of learning that came from those much more experienced and knowledgeable than I was back then. One particular area that emerged early on was a fundamental need of racers and enthusiasts who were seeking the best engine part’s combinations to address specific objectives. Too often, it frequently seemed the bigger-is-better approach failed to achieve the desired results, and instead lead to increased costs and time to reach their goals.

I realize this magazine has over time, and again most recently, made reference to our collective friend Smokey, and we’ll share some more of his wisdom here. No, he didn’t have all the answers, but over the years, he developed a well-honed knack for looking for solutions to racing and engineering problems, often from a perspective that eluded most of us mortals. In time, I came to realize he had a particular skill for sorting out solutions to problems, using a part of his mind that was quite different from the mainstream thought process. And he had an incredible ability to remember solutions from the past and relate them to the present. That last part was especially tricky.

The example, I’d like to share with you the three areas he felt strongly about when engine building. Mind you, he didn’t arrive by accident on the following examples. It came from Smokey’s so-called school-of-hard-knocks carved out on a foundation of his growing proficiency and experience at finding the proper combination of parts, but with an approach that minimized costs and optimized durability. I’ll do my best to condense his ways of thinking.

The Money Side (Affordability)


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June 2017