Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday: putting the ‘Stock’ in stock car racing

The National Association of Stock Car Racing or NASCAR, was started in 1948 by William France Sr. and an assortment of other drivers. In the early stages of competition there were a few racing divisions called ‘classes’. They included: modified, roadster and strictly stock. The term ‘stock car’ means the racer is right off the showroom floor (with some sturdier safety specifications installed). They came from factory parts and were originally designed to be vehicles for civilian driving. A modified, on the other hand, is a stock car that has been altered to go faster, be lighter and are often not street legal due to these amendments. The modified and roadster classes spun off in different directions leaving the burden on the car manufactures to make cars fast enough to compete against each other. Marketing departments in Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and others caught on to the need for speed. They believed if their car won a big race the general public would be more inclined to purchase their make and models.

For many years real stock vehicles were raced in NASCAR sanctioned events. One of many famous examples included the Hudson Hornet. An American made car from the days of old, the Hornet was a legend everywhere in stock racing in the 50’s. Hudson was one of the first automobile manufacturers to became involved in competition. Many famous NASCAR drivers piloted Hornets in lower levels of the racing scene. It was said that make of car had up to an 83% win record. The Hornet was underestimated because of  its small stature and straight-six engine but Hudsons beat beefy V-8 powered cars with ease simply due to superior handling. Hudson's manufacturer ran out of gas in 1957 and closed its doors for good.

Today in the highest level of NASCAR, the cars are nowhere near ‘stock’. They are made to look roughly like street Toyotas and Chevys but true stock racers like the Hudson Hornet are distant memories. Though it has no track history, our featured Hudson Hornet at the World of Speed is a piece of stock car racing history.