The Fabulous Hudson Hornet was a famous NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) and AAA stock car produced by the Hudson Motor Car Company. Marshall Teague and Herb Thomas each drove in a Hudson Hornet that they nicknamed the "Fabulous Hudson Hornet".
Marshall Teague drove his Fabulous Hudson Hornet in selected NASCAR events during the 1951 and 1952 seasons. Teague approached the Hudson Motor Car Company by traveling to Michigan and visiting their plant without an appointment. By the end of the visit Hudson virtually assured Teague of corporate support and cars; the relationship was formalized shortly thereafter. Teague was also instrumental in helping Hudson tune the inline six-cylinder-powered Hudson Hornet to its maximum stock capability. He nicknamed his Hudson Hornet the "Fabulous Hudson Hornet". When combined with the car's light weight and low center of gravity (because of its monocoque body), the Hornet allowed Teague and the other Hudson drivers to dominate various stock car racing series from 1951 through 1954, consistently beating other drivers in cars powered by larger, more modern engines. Teague and his crew chief Smokey Yunick won 27 of 34 events in major stock car events, including seven NASCAR events. Teague left NASCAR during the 1952 season in a dispute with NASCAR's owner Bill France, Sr.
Teague was awarded the 1951 AAA Stock Car Driver of the Year, and the 1952 and 1954 AAA National Stock Car Champion while driving in the Fabulous Hudson Hornet. The original Fabulous Hudson Hornet can be found today, fully restored, at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan. This Hornet is also occasionally used in classic car racing.
Herb Thomas began the 1951 NASCAR Grand National season with moderate success in a Plymouth car, plus one win in an Oldsmobile. He switched mid season to his Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and won the 1951 championship. Thomas dominated the entire 1953 NASCAR Grand National season. He won a series best 12 races en route to becoming the first two-time series champion.
Julius Timothy Flock (May 11, 1924 – March 31, 1998), an early NASCAR two time series champion, won the 1952 Grand National Champion cup as driver of one of the three Fabulous Hudson Hornets. His second championship cup, in 1955, was won using a Chrysler automobile. He was forced out of NASCAR after supporting a 1961 unionisation attempt but continued to race under other sanctioning bodies.
Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation in 1954 to become American Motors Corporation. The Hudson name was retired in 1957, in the face of continually declining sales. The Hornet name was used by AMC for their compact sedan from 1970 to 1977. AMC raced the AMC Javelin in the Trans-Am Series and the AMC Matador in NASCAR. They did well enough to win the Trans-Am Series, and try again with a new fastback coupe in NASCAR.
The Chrysler Corporation (now partially owned by Fiat Group) subsequently bought AMC in 1987. Chrysler continues to race its Dodge brand in NASCAR as well as the spinoff Ram Trucks division in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. The Hornet name has since been revived on the subcompact Dodge Hornet for Europe.
The 2006 animated film Cars tells the story of a hotshot race car, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) who finds himself stuck in the Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. The town's judge and doctor is Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman), a Hornet that turns out to be the real Fabulous Hudson Hornet himself. He shares many of the same records as the real Hornet, although their fates differ. His number is also 51 (in reference to the year his model was created).