Hudson’s Hornet and its star drivers dominated the early years of stock car racing when the cars were truly stock and the tracks were paved with dirt and sand.
July 20, 2023 at 7:28 PM
A dozen years ago, when my son was more interested in toy cars than real ones, Disney cars movie seemed to be almost on a constant loop in my house. He had the T-shirts, the pajamas, the bed clothes, the lunch box, the backpack die-cast cars, the artwork. And I had the film’s dialogue memorized, ready to be deployed at any time to pull it out of a strop.
But to my shame, when I already vaguely knew that the real Hudson Hornet had been a big deal in the early years of NASCAR and had heard of some of the big names of the time, like Chief Team Smokey Yunick, I never had time to find out more about the drivers at the time or why Hudson seemed to be dominant one moment and dead and buried the next.
Thanks to the Hagerty Drivers Foundation YouTube channel, that wrong has been righted. While there’s a ton of garbage car content on YouTube, there’s also a ton of great stuff, and if you’re a sucker for the kind of in-depth, high-quality storytelling documentaries you’ve come to expect to find on TV, and that most automotive media simply can’t afford to produce, you’ll love this channel too.
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Previous episodes have covered cannonball race Countach, the DeLorean Time Machine of Back to the future, and Chrysler’s insane turbine car project. And now, the latest episode titled “The Fabulous Hudson Hornet” tells the story of NASCAR’s legendary first car, including how it got that name, through a mix of interviews with the likes of Richard Petty, incredible color archival footage taken at the time and access to the only surviving example of a Hornet race car, driven by three-time champion Herb Thomas.
It’s a great story, and so well told that whether or not you have an interest in sports or old American cars, or have seen the Cars film that was so inspired by it. It’s not a five-minute documentary about a coffee break, it’s 53 minutes. But give me an hour over 20 minutes of a tasteless influencer taking delivery of their millionth supercar any day of the week.