The Hudson Motor Car Company was one of the first American car manufacturers to get behind factory sponsored auto racing in NASCAR as part of a marketing campaign. They enlisted some of the best stock car drivers of the day to represent the brand. Marshall Teague was among the first to be brought in. Teague helped tune the Hudson’s engines to max potential then went out and won five of the 15 NASCAR races in 1951.
Other drivers on the Hudson team included stars like Herb Thomas, Dick Rathmann, Tim Flock, Fonty Flock, Jack McGrath, Frank Mundy, and Lou Figaro. Combined these drivers accounted for 13 total wins in 1951. They backed that up with 49 wins in 1952, and 46 wins in 1953. The Hornet’s lower center of gravity made for great handling and helped the car become dominant in the series. The straight-six Hudson would outperform and out-accelerate the larger V8 equipped cars.
Teague, teamed with mechanical genius Smokey Yunick and won the AAA Stock car driver of the year award in 1951. He left NASCAR during the 1952 season in an dispute with Bill France but was awarded the AAA National Stock Car Championship in 1952 and 1954, driving the Hudson Hornet.
It was Herb Thomas that took the Hudson Hornet to the 1951 NASCAR Championship. Tim Flock drove the Hudson to the NASCAR Championship in 1952 with Thomas recapturing the championship in 1953. By 1954, the racing success for the small independent automaker was done. The company merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to become the American Motors Corporation, better known as AMC.
The tale of Thomas’ Hudson can be found in detail at hemmings.com, but the highlights boil down to this: The car was cast aside when its racing days were over. After being street driven for decades, it was sold to a Hudson guru that knew what it was. The car was restored and ended up in the Hostetler Collection, which closed its doors earlier this year. At the Hostetler Museum sale on August 4, 2018, Thomas’ Hudson Hornet was the top car sold, setting a marque record of $1.27 million along the way.