Thursday, February 6, 2014

Clay Smith... aka Mr Horsepower (the Woody Woodpecker cigar smoking logo)

Smokey Yunick once dubbed Clay Smith, “the world’s smartest mechanic.”

 In 1942 Smith bought the company the engine building company he'd been workign at when the owner died, it was renamed Clay Smith Engineering.

 It should be noted that Smith cams were appearing in midgets, land speed cars, Indy cars and even stock cars, but with the addition of his own full line shop, his name skyrocketed along with his celebrity.

 Now building full-on racing engines, Smith’s business was expanding, he teamed with Bill Stroppe to compete in a hydroplane boat race. Their machine was powered by a Ford straight six engine, oil starvation and vibration were two of the terminal problems with that particular motor. Smith solved them both and they won the event.

He took a stocker Mercury and tweaked it to get the best mileage possible, winning the 1950 Mobilgas Economy Run.

 Following up on that success, Ford had Smith and Stroppe prepare Lincolns for the PanAmerican Road race across Mexico. The big Lincolns dominated until the race was discontinued in 1954.

 His crowning achievement was tuning Troy Ruttman to victory at the 1952 Indy 500.

 Roger Ward lost it on the front straight of the Du Quoin Speedway in Du Quoin, Illinois. His car careened into the pits, striking Smith and killing him. Smith had been Ward’s own crewchief in years past and the accident shook the steely Ward so hard he nearly walked away from auto racing forever.

Clay Smith, another gearhead guy you should know.

info from a well written piece on