Monday, October 11, 2010

Twisted Iron

Usually I'm only a part-time NASCAR fan...but I do like the old stuff when the cars were real cars. Walk into a showroom and order that big block to drive the kids to school and then go to the track on Sunday and race it.

Back in 1951, NASCAR was just starting to gain a some grip around the country as a watchable spectator sport. However the leagues leader, Bill France, was frustrated with the big honchos of Detroit. Even though NASCAR was dominated by passenger cars from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, the fellas in suites maintained an official aloofness in supporting the sport. To make his point, Bill France decided to celebrate Detroit's 250th birthday with a colorful 250-mile race in Motor City.

The race brought together examples of all makes of 1950 and 1951 models to race around Detroit's one-mile fairgrounds circuit. Fifty-eight cars started. Four hours, 21 minutes and 250 laps later an even two dozen bent and battle scared machines followed the winner, Tommy Thompson in his '51 Chrysler V8 past the checkered flag.

Marshall Teague in his Hudson Hornet had the pole for the start.

Here are images of clippings from a issue of 1951 "Motorsport Magazine" reporting on the event.

Check out the number 42 on Lee Petty's started back then.

Thompson netted himself $5000 for the win plus a brilliant yellow Packard convertible used as the pace car. The rest of the prize money dwindled down to as little as $25 per car for 40th to 58th place.

You can read more about this melee at

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