The National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) may have crowned the Rocket 88 as its first king, but the Hudson Hornet is definitely is its most memorable racer. Hudson became the first automobile maker directly involved in stock car racing. It was one of their products, the Hornet, which dominated the NASCAR and AAA circuits in the 1950s.
In 1952, racer Marshall Teague and his Hudson Hornet nicknamed Fabulous ended the AAA season with a 1000-point lead over its closest competitor. Together, Teague and Fabulous won 12 out of the 13 scheduled racing events. They repeated their streak the following year with 14 wins, bringing the Hudson team’s record to 40 wins out of the total 48 races. The team finished with an 83% winning percentage.
The Hudson Hornet made a name for itself in the NASCAR with its 27 wins out of 24 races in 1952, 22 of 37 in 1953, and another 17 of 37 in 1954. With drivers like Herb Thomas, Dick Rathmann, Frank Mundy and, Tim Flock, and Al Keller in the Hudson team, they were an indomitable force in the NASCAR in the early 50s. Driving Today’s Nerad Jackson wrote of the record in an article as “an incredible accomplishment” coming from a vehicle with “legitimate luxury credentials”.
The Hornet driven by Marshall Teauge in the 1950s has been fully restored and is now on display at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. The museum stands on where Hudson’s last dealership, Miller Motors, once stood.
Produced from 1951 to 1954, the Hudson Hornet was one of the best sellers of the Hudson Motor Car Company of America. Its first generation models featured a lowered design that had a dropped floorpan. The chassis had a lower center of gravity for better handling. The lowered design was complemented with a streamlined look which overshadowed the popularity even of Cadillac.
The first Hudson Hornet introduced in 1951 had four versions. One may opt for a two-door coupe, a two-door convertible, a hardtop coupe, and a four-door sedan. Prices for these models ranged from $2500 to $3100 at the time of their release. Every unit of the Hornet produced that year featured 170hp, Straightsix-H145 engines.
Marshall Teague’s Hornet was a 1952 model that had the twin-H engine with dual one-barrel carburetors. This was an option offered by the factories for an additional price. The twin-H engine produced 145hp of unadulterated power and a top speed of 112 miles per hour (mph). The combination of Teague’s natural driving prowess and the car’s overbuilt, overpowered engine made them an unbeatable team at NASCAR’s dirt and paved tracks.
One memorable Hudson Hornet reference in popular culture may be found in the Disney-Pixar 2006 animated movie “Cars”. Doc Hudson, the judge of Radiator Springs, was a Hornet. When Lightning McQueen got lost while en route to his next race aboard his trailer, he found himself in a town in the middle of nowhere. He created mayhem and was sentenced to fixing the roads he destroyed in the process. During one of McQueen’s outbursts, he challenged Doc to a race. Only then was it revealed that Doc Hudson was actually Fabulous, the famous NASCAR race car of the 1950s.