Get ready for a thrilling ride as we delve into the captivating world of Hudson Hornet race cars in this in-depth documentary by the Hagerty Drivers Foundation. Discover the extraordinary history behind how Hudson, a small Detroit manufacturer, accidentally created a formidable racer that made a significant impact in NASCAR when paired with early stock car champions like Herb Thomas and Marshall Teague.
Unearthing a serendipitous series of events, this documentary film unveils the remarkable journey that turned Hudson into a standout champion during the post-war stock car racing craze in America. With a winning combination of talented drivers and an automaker that understood the power of success on the race track translating to sales in showrooms, this chapter in motoring history laid the groundwork for modern-day racing.
The focal point of the story is the humble and self-trained racer Herb Thomas, one of the first stars in stock car racing. To this day, Thomas holds the highest win percentage of any NASCAR driver, achieved primarily behind the wheel of Hudson Hornets. Featuring interviews with Thomas’s sons and grandson, renowned figures such as Jay Leno, Richard Petty, NASCAR historians, Pixar’s Jay Ward, and Hudson experts, this film provides a fresh perspective on the early days of America’s beloved stock car racing sport. Fans may recognize elements of this story, as it served as inspiration for the character “Doc Hudson” in Pixar’s Cars franchise.
At the heart of the documentary is the 1952 Hornet, owned by Michigan collector Al Schultz. This iconic vehicle was inducted into the Hagerty Drivers Foundation’s National Historic Vehicle Register in 2022, making it the sole surviving factory-racing Hornet and the oldest known NASCAR-winning car in existence. The Hudson’s illustrious history will be documented and preserved in perpetuity through the National Historic Vehicle Register, housed in the Library of Congress. Currently, the car is on display at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation until October 22nd, and when not traveling or showcased at museums, it is available to the public at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum/National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum.
From the humble beginnings of Hudson’s racing program to the unrivaled success achieved by Herb Thomas and his iconic victories, this film sheds new light on the early days of stock car racing. With the 1952 Hornet taking center stage as a true racing legend, its inclusion in the National Historic Vehicle Register ensures that Hudson’s legacy will be cherished and celebrated for generations to come. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this incredible piece of automotive history on display at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.