This month on DoYouDesignToo? we are going to look at car design. No, not from the so-called “Father of Industrial Design” (I’m not a huge fan of his):
No way. We are going to look at the incredible life and high times of a real life Dick Dastardly.
Now for those of you who have been so unfortunate as to have lived this long without seeing Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon “The Wacky Races“, Dick Dastardly is a fellow who resorts to stupid-elaborate dishonest schemes to try to beat the other racers. Ironically, his cheating is what always causes him to lose, despite him being able to easily get ahead of the others and their crazy car contraptions. As unhappy as he is to always lose, somehow the cheating and seeing if he can beat the system is a much more fun game than the actual car race–he does it for the pure joy of the sport of, well, circumventing normal standards of procedure.
This real-life Dick Dastardly’s name is none other than Henry Smokey Yunick, and quite frankly, this wheeling-dealing inventor/designer made the world, especially the world of automobiles, a better place.
I’m just going to go ahead and copy and paste the CRACKED.com article that introduced me to Smokey Yunick here, because, quite frankly, it would be both pointless and futile to try to be more informative, humorous, or all-around epic about this as they have already done, so here it is. I highly encourage you to frequent CRACKED.com, you’ll kill some time, learn ALOT, and enjoy yourself all at the same time.
While racecar mechanic Smokey Yunick never technically broke the rules in NASCAR back in the 1960s, he perfected the art of plunging headlong into every single loophole in the regulations. In NASCAR slang this is still known as “Yuniking the rules”; for the rest of the world it’s just “being awesome at cheating.”
The whole point of NASCAR racing is that every car is the same; race officials carefully inspect the cars to make sure this is the case. It’s supposed to be all about the drivers and the strategy–primarily based on fuel consumption, and figuring out how to go as long as possible between time-consuming pit stops. Once, when inspectors had removed Smokey’s gas tank to make sure it was regulation size, he climbed in the supposedly gasless car, started it, and drove off.
He wasn’t using black magic; it turned out he had replaced the fuel line with a coiled tube that could hold five gallons of extra gas. Yeah, they’d forgotten to make a rule about that. Then when inspectors would drain the fuel to just see if he was hiding any, it’d come out just right–that’s because Smokey had put a basketball inside the tank and inflated it before inspection. After inspection, he’d let the air out of the ball and now he had an extra cubic foot or so of fuel tank to work with.
This is actually his combination race-car/BBQ.
That was just the beginning. He figured out how to improve the aerodynamics of the car while creating the optical illusion that nothing had been changed. He invented so much stuff to try to sneak in an extra edge here and there that you probably have some of it in your car now. He was awarded a dozen or so patents for his innovations in steering systems, spark plugs, cooling and probably some kind of hidden rocket booster. He’s now in the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
They even drew this badass picture of him.
Now, we’re not saying that cheaters win. We’re just saying… well actually we are saying that. You just have to be really good at it.