In the earliest days of NASCAR, the series ventured north a few times to race on the dirt oval at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Here’s an awesome three-minute newsreel that captures the intense action.
The date is August 12, 1951. The place is the one-mile dirt horse-racing track (built in 1899) at the old Michigan State Fairgrounds at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road. The event is NASCAR’s first stock car race in the Detroit area, the 1951 Motor City 250—and what a spectacle it was. This original three-minute newsreel feature from INS Telenews (part of the old Dumont Television Network at one time) captures a number of awesome moments:
+ At the one-minute mark, Marshall Teague and his Fabulous Hudson Hornet with flathead-six power takes on a pair of Oldsmobile Rocket overhead V8s and easily motors past them on the outside.
+ At around 1:20, Lee Petty is seen driving a no. 42 Plymouth that is essentially a total wreck. But Petty, the consummate money racer, would soldier on after the rollover and somehow finish 13th that day.
+ After a long, fierce, fender-beating battle with stock car legend Curtis Turner, independent owner/driver Tommy Thompson finally came out on top driving his ’51 Chrysler, leading 58 laps.
This would prove to be the only win in Thompson’s eight-year, 22-race NASCAR Grand National career, but in his victory lane celebration we can see how sweet it was. And with the victory, he collected a brand new Packard convertible and a check for $5,000. Video below.