This month I'm very excited and pleased to welcome a fellow author to the IN THE PITS. I met John Youk by accident. He happened to sit down next to me at the New York New York hotel in Las Vegas. Turns our we knew some of the same people...and that I'd been smelling his food all day in the garage. What followed was an enjoyable conversation, followed by a weekend of great food, and (I suspect) a friend for life. He's one of the nicest, most down to earth (not to mention HIL-ARE-IOUS) guys in the garage. And if his cookbook features some of the food I was treated to in Vegas, you better run, not walk, and go get his book.
Can you explain to people what it is you do?
I work for Ginn Racing, based in Mooresville, N.C., as the team Chef. I do the cooking for the three NEXTEL Cup teams we have, and the four teams when Regan Smith attempts to qualify. I am a carpenter by trade, and a self taught autobody person. Had a very successful bodyshop for over 20 yrs, and over 33yrs. carpentry experience. I plow snow, cut all my own firewood, pretty much can do most anything.
How did you get involved with racing?
I got involved in racing, back in the day, around 68-69, as a fan up until the late 70`s when I got on the "inside", of my first race. I was able to secure a media credential thru the local newspaper, and that`s all it took. I`ve been on the road since. Getting involved competitively, happened at Pocono, when a crew member from Jimmy Means` team asked me if I was staying Monday for the race should it get rained out Sunday. He explained that they would need help then, and then he went...Hell we need help now.
So, he came out to the pits, handed me his dirty shop rag and said stuff this in your pocket, and walk by the guards like you know what you`re doing and then you`re in. It worked.
What's your weekly schedule like?
My weekly schedule is very hectic. Get home from the track, to Pennsylvania. Monday is usually laundry and go to the bank day. Tuesday, sort the mail and get bills paid etc., get the e-mails caught up and begin planning the way to the track. If I fly, Wednesday is, pack and make sure to have all necessities. If I drive to the track of that week, I get food ready to go along for the ride. Thursday is usually travel day, but this year with the C.O.T., Wednesday is the day to get gone. Leaving me two days to get a lot done.
What's Mark Martin's favorite dish?
Chicken, but he goes for the protein stuff...turkey, tuna, salmon...grilled veggies.
Do you have any funny stories to share?
A few years ago, while in Daytona, I heard, "Hey John," so I stopped and turned around and there was a man and his wife and daughter in the garage. So I started wondering to myself, who the hell are THESE people????? The man asks, "Hey, I`ll bet you`re glad football season is finally over." So I kinda responded, "Yea I guess so." And then he asked if he could have my picture with he and his family and got someone else to take the picture... Here he though I was John Madden. Boy I`m sure his friends though he was a goober when they all realize I was an impostor.
What's your favorite thing about your job?
Best part of my job, is making sure the guys on our teams are well fed and they are HAPPY !!!!!!!! And, going shopping, meeting people and messing with them. (Editor's note: John involved me in a prank while we were in Vegas and so I know first hand what he means by "messing with them".)
What's the worst?
Worst part is, running out of food.........before all have had a plate....... That can happen real easy around our three teams.
What's your favorite recipe?
Here's a real favorite, Rubens...... For one sandwich.......
Bakery Rye Bread (I prefer marbled) 2 slices 1/2" to 3/4" thick
4 slices of Boars Head corned beef
2 slices Swiss cheese (boars head)
3 tblsp. sauerkraut (silver floss)
1-2 tblspns. thousand island dressing
Have your grill on med-med high heat. Place non-stick foil on the grill. Place the four slices on the foil, slightly brown one side then the other. Place the cheese on, let that melt.. Butter your bread and place on another part of the foil to begin to toast. Place the sauerkraut on another spot on the foil to get that hot.
Place heated kraut on the meat and melted cheese. Top with the dressing and place that on one slice of the bread, and top it with the other, grill the sandwich golden brown, and then enjoy.
Any plans for a follow-up cookbook?
Not any plans yet for a follow up, but we are getting to where the cookbook will need to be re-printed, because out of the 62,000 that were printed, we`ve sold over 56,000.
Where can people buy your book?
Speedway Grill.com, Amazon, all major bookstores, and Lowes and Home Depot.
In the Pits Archive
Ann Schrader , wife of Nextel Cup driver Kenny Schrader.
Robin Richert, wife of crew chief Doug Richert.
Nicole Lunders, of THE GREG BIFFLE foundation.
Pamela Britton, interviewed by Carol and her friends at the Jeff Gordon Network.
Denise Wood , assistant editor for Racing Milestones magazine.
Krissie Newman, Co-Founder, Ryan Newman Foundation and learn about her wonderful work with animals.
Author Liz Allison.