The year was 1951, and the NASCAR series made its way up north to the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. This iconic dirt oval hosted the highly anticipated 1951 Motor City 250, a stock car race that would go down in history. Let’s dive into the details of this thrilling event and relive the intense action that took place.

A Legendary Venue

Located at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road, the Michigan State Fairgrounds was a one-mile dirt horse-racing track that had been in existence since 1899. However, on August 12, 1951, it witnessed the roar of stock car engines as NASCAR set foot in Detroit for the first time. The atmosphere was electrifying, and fans eagerly awaited the spectacle that was about to unfold.

Intense Moments Captured

Thanks to an incredible three-minute newsreel from INS Telenews, we can still experience the heart-pounding moments of the 1951 Motor City 250. Let’s take a closer look at some of the unforgettable highlights:

Marshall Teague and the Fabulous Hudson Hornet

As the clock struck one minute, all eyes were on Marshall Teague and his iconic Fabulous Hudson Hornet. Powered by a flathead-six engine, Teague’s car confidently surged past a pair of Oldsmobile Rocket overhead V8s, leaving them in the dust. This display of skill and power set the tone for the thrilling race that lay ahead.

Lee Petty’s Unyielding Determination

Around the 1:20 mark, the newsreel captured the battered state of Lee Petty’s no. 42 Plymouth. Despite his car being a wreck, Petty, known for his tenacity, refused to give up. He persevered after a rollover and astonishingly managed to finish in the 13th position that day. His unyielding spirit embodied the true essence of a money racer.

Tommy Thompson’s Triumph

Engaged in an intense battle with stock car legend Curtis Turner, independent owner/driver Tommy Thompson showcased remarkable driving skills. Behind the wheel of his ’51 Chrysler, Thompson fought fiercely, leading for a total of 58 laps before ultimately emerging victorious. This triumphant moment marked the pinnacle of Thompson’s NASCAR career, securing his only win in eight years and 22 races in the NASCAR Grand National.

A Sweet Victory

For Tommy Thompson, the taste of victory at the 1951 Motor City 250 was nothing short of extraordinary. As he celebrated in victory lane, his joy was evident. His remarkable achievement not only earned him the admiration of fans but also rewarded him with a brand new Packard convertible and a substantial $5,000 check. It was a dream come true for Thompson and a testament to the dedication and skill that defined the race.


The 1951 Motor City 250 in Detroit remains etched in the annals of NASCAR history as a defining moment. From the roaring engines to the courageous drivers, this race captivated fans and showcased the true essence of stock car racing. The Michigan State Fairgrounds witnessed unforgettable moments that continue to inspire motorsport enthusiasts to this day.


1. Were there any other NASCAR races held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit? No, the 1951 Motor City 250 was the only NASCAR race held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit.

2. How many laps did Tommy Thompson lead during the race? Tommy Thompson led for a total of 58 laps in the 1951 Motor City 250.

3. Did Lee Petty’s no. 42 Plymouth undergo any repairs after the race? Yes, after the race, Lee Petty’s no. 42 Plymouth underwent extensive repairs to prepare it for future competitions.

4. What happened to Marshall Teague after the race? Marshall Teague continued his successful career in stock car racing, leaving a lasting impact on the sport.

5. Are there any plans to revive the Michigan State Fairgrounds as a racing venue? Currently, there are no plans to revive the Michigan State Fairgrounds as a racing venue. However, its historical significance remains intact.

Now, let’s take a moment to watch the video below and witness the excitement of the 1951 Motor City 250: