Marshall Teague and the Hudson Hornet
February 11 was a big day for the car and the driver. On that day in 1951, NASCAR driver Marshall Teague drove a Hudson Hornet to victory in the 160-mile Daytona Grand National at Daytona Beach, Florida. It was a preview of things to come for both. The Hornet had an innovative “step down” chassis design, and lower center of gravity which improved handling. In 1951, the manufacturer outfitted the car with a bigger engine. The Hornet was a powerhouse on the NASCAR circuit until 1955, when rule changes emphasized horsepower over handling.
The Hudson Motor Company
- Founded on February 24, 1909 by eight Detroit businessmen
- Company was named after J.L.Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur and one of the original founders.
- Roy Chapin, Sr., the investor with the industry experience, had been a young executive with Ransom E. Olds.
- In 1929, Hudson produced 300,000 cars, making it the third largest car maker in the U.S
- On January 14, 1954, Hudson Merged with Nash-Kelvinator to become American Motors.
- In the 2006 animated feature, “Cars”, Paul Newman provided the voice for the character, “Doc Hudson”. Doc was once known as the Fabulous Hornet, with a record for the mosts wins-27- in a single season. His license plate was 51HHMD.
Marshall Teague, who was known as the “King of the Beach” for his races at his hometown track, won seven NASCAR Grand National Races between 1949 and 1952. Before the 1951 season, he traveled to Michigan to Hudson, where he showed up without an appointment. By the end of the visit, he had laid the foundation for a relationship with the company that would make the car and driver dominant in the circuit until 1953. Teague left NASCAR that year, in a dispute with the circuit founder, Bill France, Sr. He went on to drive in the AAA and USAC circuits.
Nine years to the day after his historic race in the Hudson Hornet, on February 11, 1959, he was back at Daytona. It would be his last run. Teague was killed trying to set a closed court record in a reconfigured Indy car at the newly opened Dayton Interantional Speedway. The test session was just prior to the April debut of the USAC championship in Indy-styled roadsters, and eleven days before the first Daytona 500. Marshall’s death bothered Bill France so much that he never again held Indy-style racing at the Daytona Speedway.
Marshall Teague’s career highlights
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Statistics
- 23 races run over 4 years.
- Best Cup Position: 62nd – 1949 (Strictly Stock)
- First Race: 1949 Daytona Beach Road Course
- First Win: 1951 Daytona Beach Road Course
- Last Win: 1952 Speedway Park (Jacksonville)
- Wins-7 Top Tens-11 Poles-3
- National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame (1968)
- 1951 AAA Stock Car Driver of the Year
- 1952 & 1954 AAA National Stock Car Champion
- National Auto Racing Hall of Fame (1988)
- TRS/NASCAR Mechanics Hall of Fame (1989)
- American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (1991)