The Smokey Yunick Hat

Summers mean sun and heat; my head needs protection from both so I wear a hat. I am already an established redneck so that part of me doesn’t need sun either so I wear a hat. I don’t wear a cowboy hat because I’m not- I do however want my ears free from burning so I wear a hat. I don’t wear a golfers fedora even though that might do the trick but I don’t because I am not.


I call my hat the Smokey Yunick hat. If you are in a room of 20 people and you know who Smokey Yunick is-you are probably the only one in the room who has this knowledge. There is something special about my Smokey Yunick hat, it has almost magical powers. If I have a tough job to do, I always remind myself that I can do it because I will wear my Smokey Yunick hat.


Who is Smokey Yunick, you ask? That is probably the most logical question to the previous lump of tangents, partial connections and sentence fragments.

smokey yunickSmokey Yunick was a car designer associated with car racing from the 1950’s on and also served as a crew chief on several racing teams. I knew him from his column, “Say, Smokey” in Popular Mechanics. I enjoyed his creative ideas and detailed answer to mail-in questions. At a time when there was no internet, Smokey’s knowledge was precious to me.  I also liked his hat.


There is genetic precedent for my hat-wearing preference as my dad used to wear a pith helmet.

pith helmet The basket weave construction and full brim made for a very comfortable cover. My hat is an “Australian-type” of hat-not like Crocodile Dundee’s-as it is floppy and even somewhat foldable. There are snaps on each side which, even when used, still allow enough brim to keep my ears non-burned. I like baseball caps too however they can get a little tight on my head, particularly now that I have not had a haircut in three months. My hat sits loose which allows air to pass through the ventilated top panel which keeps my brain running nice and cool.


The only problem with the hat is extreme wind, although this has become a learning experience. Holding my head is such a way as to slice through the wind without losing my hat is an experience in learning angles similar to the first time I began looking at the world through progressive lenses. My head just automatically moves up, down and sideways.


The hat makes me comfortable, maybe that is the reason I like it so much when I am working. Maybe I just associate the hat as a brand of a guy I admired for his knowledge when I was just a kid. Whatever it does for me-it works. It is my Smokey Yunick hat.

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