By Ben White
During NASCAR’s third Cup Series season, Herb Thomas was crowned champion after recording seven victories and 19 top-10 finishes in 34 starts. Thomas drove the No. 92 Fabulous Hudson Hornet entered by car owner Ted Chester of Atlanta.
In 1951, sports fans across the country enjoyed professional baseball, football and basketball, as stock car racing steadily gaining a foothold in the South. Other racing organizations came and went as NASCAR emerged from the pack, partly because fearless mountain moonshiners were becoming its stars.
The sport was expanding its footprint but “Big” Bill France, NASCAR’s founder, wanted more, securing six events on the West Coast. France even added some star power by enticing Bill Holland, the 1949 Indianapolis 500 winner, to join the fray.
Holland was set to drive the same No. 98 Plymouth Johnny Mantz had used to win the inaugural Southern 500 at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway a year earlier in seven races but flipped the car at Charlotte Speedway on April 1. Instead, Holland drove in five remaining races for Hugh Westmoreland and Cal Connell.
Thanks to the efforts of fellow driver Marshall Teague, Thomas was quite successful in the Fabulous Hudson Hornet. It was Teague who explained to Hudson’s executives the benefits of winning in front of thousands of fans on the 41-race schedule. Teague was not only a driver but also an auto racing adviser to the automaker.
Thomas won NASCAR’s premier championship over the Flock brothers, Fonty and Tim, who ended up second and third.
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Fonty Flock, driver of the No. 14 Oldsmobile fielded by Frank Christian, won eight races in 1951, the most of any driver. He logged 22 top-10 finishes but failed to finish nine times – four due to crashes and five due to mechanical issues. Without the DNFs, Flock could have challenged Herb Thomas for the title. Instead, the native of Decatur, Georgia, settled for second in points, the best of his nine-year career.
On Aug. 12, Tommy Thompson won the inaugural Motor City 250 at the Detroit Fairgrounds. Fifty-nine cars took the green flag in a race that turned out to be a demolition derby. Thompson battled with veteran Curtis Turner in the closing 25 miles, but both spun, giving the lead to Joe Eubanks. Thompson and Turner returned to action, caught Eubanks and passed him. Overheating KO’d Turner while Thompson won in front of 16,400 fans.
Herb Thomas’ No 92 Fabulous Hudson Hornet won seven times in 1951, while recording 19 top-10 finishes and earning four poles.
Fonty Flock’ s No. 14 Oldsmobile owned by Frank Christian recorded eight wins, 22 top-10 results and 14 pole positions.
1951 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 11 | Daytona Beach and Road Course | Marshall Teague
April 1 | Charlotte Speedway | Curtis Turner
April 8 | Lakeview Speedway | Tim Flock
April 8 | Carrell Speedway | Marshall Teague
April 15 | Occoneechee Speedway | Fonty Flock
April 22 | Arizona State Fairgrounds | Marshall Teague
April 29 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Fonty Flock
May 6 | Martinsville Speedway | Curtis Turner
May 30 | Canfield Fairgrounds | Marshall Teague
June 10 | Columbus Speedway | Tim Flock
June 16 | Columbia Speedway | Frank Mundy
June 24 | Dayton Speedway | Curtis Turner
June 30 | Carrell Speedway | Lou Figaro
July 1 | Grand River Speedrome | Marshall Teague
July 8 | Bainbridge Speedway | Fonty Flock
July 15 | Heidelberg Speedway | Herb Thomas
July 29 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Fonty Flock
July 31 | Monroe County Fairgrounds | Lee Petty
Aug. 1 | Altamont Speedway | Fonty Flock
Aug. 12 | Michigan Fairgrounds | Tommy Thompson
Aug. 19 | Fort Miami Speedway | Tim Flock
Aug. 24 | Morristown Speedway | Tim Flock
Aug. 25 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Bob Flock
Sept. 3 | Darlington Raceway | Herb Thomas
Sept. 7 | Columbia Speedway | Tim Flock
Sept. 8 | Central City Speedway | Herb Thomas
Sept. 15 | Langhorne Speedway | Herb Thomas
Sept. 23 | Charlotte Speedway | Herb Thomas
Sept. 23 | Dayton Speedway | Fonty Flock
Sept. 30 | Wilson County Speedway | Fonty Flock
Oct. 7 | Occoneechee Speedway | Herb Thomas
Oct. 12 | Thompson Speedway | Neil Cole
Oct. 14 | Martinsville Speedway | Frank Mundy
Oct. 14 | Pine Grove Speedway | Tim Flock
Oct. 14 | Oakland Stadium | Marvin Burke
Oct. 21 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Fonty Flock
Oct. 28 | Hanford Motor Speedway | Danny Weinberg
Nov. 4 | Jacksonville Speedway | Herb Thomas
Nov. 11 | Lakewood Speedway | Tim Flock
Nov. 11 | Carrell Speedway | Bill Norton
Nov. 25 | Lakeview Speedway | Frank Munday