Leading Ladies: Trish Yunick – More Than Her Famous Last Name

A name means a lot in every industry: not necessarily a defining trait of who you are, it does identify you to the rest of the world. For Trish Yunick, daughter of the late, great Smokey Yunick, the significance of her namesake isn’t lost on anyone, or at least not on anyone that knows their motorsports history.

Trish Yunick, Linda Vaughn and Donnie Allison at the Living Legends of Auto Racing Awards Banquet in 2012. Photo from Living Legends of Auto Racing Facebook page.

But much more than just her famous last name, Trish has stepped up and carved out a spot for herself in the automotive industry separate from her father’s legacy, making her a great fit for our growing list of the automotive industry’s Leading Ladies.

Ask Trish about her accomplishments in the automotive industry and you’ll undoubtedly get a modest answer. But Trish has accomplished more than she leads on. After all, not just anyone, no matter what their last name, could be a doting mother and a vital part of the ARP Fasteners team all while perpetuating their father’s legacy over a decade after his death.

Trish wears all of those hats, playing both a marketing role for ARP as well as a marketing and publishing role as president of her father’s official publishing company, Carbon Press, and resulting website, books and online store.

Known by her peers as one of the most trustworthy and honorable people in everything she takes on, and without a doubt, an individual who stands up for what she believes in and her clients’ best interests, Trish is a Leading Lady with character and class, as well as old-world work ethics and morals that make her a truly notable individual in the automotive industry.

Growing up as Henry “Smokey” Yunick’s daughter, one might assume Trish’s childhood was filled with trips to the track, quality time in the garage and living, at least in part, the “racer life”. In reality, however, Trish’s upbringing was far from the glory of the track and the name Yunick had made for himself.

To Trish, Yunick was simply a hard-working father who worked over 12-hour days, kept the projects in his garage secret even to his friends and drivers, and someone who’s involvement in racing caused him to be away from home, sometimes weeks at a time. In fact, Trish didn’t really know her father as the famed Smokey Yunick the motorsports industry is familiar with until later in her life.

“I really had no idea who ‘Smokey Yunick’ was until I was an adult and in business next to his shop,” Trish explained to us. “I was initially taught about his performance industry accomplishments by his fans. When I began working as his assistant in 1999, I [then] was first exposed to his book manuscript and his life in his own words.”

Trish’s own shop was next to her father’s “Best Damn Garage In Town” for several years. Trish learned to wear multiple hats, consolidating the companies in one location. Photo from flickr.

With a life of her own outside the automotive world, Trish explored other endeavors in her young adult years, eventually opening a bird store adjacent to her father’s garage. It was only then that her perception of her father changed– not only was Yunick a racers, he was also one in very high demand!

A number of years later, Smokey was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, causing Smokey’s wife Margie to move from more of a secretarial role for Smokey into one of more a caretaker. This left the secretarial and assistant role open, a position that Trish explains she sort of just “fell into.”

A loving daughter who inherited her father’s impeccable work ethic, Trish also took on the task of helping her father with his autobiography after he received news of his terminal cancer diagnosis, sifting through, organizing, and typing out Smokey’s thoughts and memories in his own words. From there, her role in the automotive world went from zero to 60.

smokey_yunick_book“When the time came to hand it over for publication, I couldn’t let go of the project and became part of the publishing company he (Smokey) founded to publish his book,” Trish explained.

Smokey oversaw every bit of the publishing process right up until the end, ensuring everything turned out just as he wanted– unedited and raw. Unfortunately, Smokey passed away before his autobiography published, but with the company’s determination and Trish hot on the wheel, the book was launched during summer race week at Daytona in 2001, just as originally planned.

When asked what she wanted everyone to know and remember about her father, Trish told us “Despite his reputation as a cheater, my father was honest to a fault. If the rulebook said you couldn’t do it, he didn’t. He did, however, read between the lines thoroughly.”

Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Trish Brown, daughter of Smokey Yunick and American Racing Pioneer Award representative Chris Rashke present Mr. Parks with that award in November of 2001. Photo by Eddie Samples and displayed on Georgia Racing History

That was the summer of 2001 and now 15 years later, Trish is still overseeing her father’s publishing company, helping to keep her father’s legacy alive for future generations through a dedicated website, books and memorabilia. In 2001, Trish also started working for ARP, a company her dad was a spokesperson for for many years, another position Trish still maintains.

These days, Trish is a vital part of ARP’s marketing department, producing the website, designing all the trade show visuals, and maintaining the company’s social media platforms.

Though Trish holds two major roles in the male-dominated automotive industry, she told us that she doesn’t really see things in terms of males and females in her positions. Rather, she sees everyone as her co-workers and sets out each day to do the best job she can, not compare herself to others or others to herself.

One thing she does admit, however, is that being a “self-admitted control freak,” she still struggles with the last-minute nature that seems to run rampant in the industry– something that is not confined to just males or females.

Trish at an awards banquet photographed with Buz McKim, one of the foremost authorities on auto racing history.

When asked what her advice to young ladies looking at getting into the automotive industry is, Trish stated “Do your best and be conscious of the image you unintentionally present to the world,” referencing potentially unsavory social media practices by some, these days in particular.

A true Leading Lady, Trish is a great role model for anyone looking to be part of the automotive industry. Despite her famous last name, Trish had to and continues to put in the work to be where she is, and honestly, she loves it, especially when it comes to all the people she gets to meet and converge with on a regular basis!

About the author

Lindsey Fisher

Lindsey is a freelance writer and lover of anything with a rumble. Hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles - she's owned and driven it all. When she's not busy writing about them, she's out in her garage wrenching away. Who doesn't love a tech-savy gal that knows her way around a garage?
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