Hudson Hornet paces Madison field; Notes, Quotes from Montgomery Ward 200

Hudson Hornet paces Madison field; Notes, Quotes from Montgomery Ward 200

TOLEDO Ohio (June 20, 2016) – The Fabulous Hudson Hornet added a touch of class to the big show Sunday afternoon at Madison Int’l Speedway, pacing the field for the eighth running of the Montgomery Ward Father’s Day 200.

A beautifully-restored 1951 Hudson Hornet, once driven by the late Marshall Teague, spent a couple laps out in front of the field as the modern-day ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards machines revved up in its rearview mirror. The car is owned by 84-year-old Matt Huber whose son drove it over from McFarland, Wisconsin. Huber rode in the passenger seat for the parade laps.

The Fabulous Hudson Hornet holds special meaning for the ARCA Racing Series, as ARCA’s (then MARC) first two champions – Jim Romine in 1953 and Buckie Sager in 1954 – competed in Hudson Hornets. Even six-time ARCA national champion Iggy Katona, who won his first championship in 1955 in a Ford, campaigned with a Hudson Hornet in ARCA’s ’53 and ’54 seasons.

The Hudson Hornet came back to life in a big way in the 2006 animated movie “Cars”. ‘Doc Hudson Hornet’ – voiceover by the late Paul Newman – introduced some and reacquainted others with NASCAR’s (and ARCA’s) earliest champion – the Fabulous Hudson Hornet.Buckie Sager with Hudson Hornet

Sager, in a Hudson Hornet, won the first-ever race sanctioned by ARCA at Dayton Speedway on May 10, 1953. Between Sager, Romine and Katona, Hudson Hornets completely dominated, winning 19 of 22 events in the inaugural ’53 season, including 13 consecutive, still the longest consecutive victory march by any manufacturer in ARCA’s 64-year history.

In 1954, Hudson Hornet won eight of 15 events with an interesting combination of drivers to include Sager, Romine, Katona, Fonty Flock, Bob Flock and Russ Hepler.

But by 1955, while Hudson Hornet consumer sales were dwindling, other auto manufacturers emerged, introducing their brands through stock car racing. Cadillac, Mercury, Plymouth, Ford and Chevy all began to appear in the win columns while the Hudson’s popularity languished. The last known Hudson Hornet to go to victory lane in ARCA was on June 25, 1955 on the Canfield Speedway dirt with Hepler at the controls.Hudson Hornet rear view Madison 2016

Although the Fabulous Hudson Hornet faded away into the sunset, it wasn’t before it graced the history books as ARCA’s first champion, adding yet more luster and lure to ARCA’s rich and incredible history.

Hudson Hornet Brief History
The Hornet, introduced for the 1951 model year, was based on Hudson's "step-down" design which had already been introduced for the 1948 model year in the Commodore. The design merged body and frame into a single structure, with the floor pan recessed between the car's frame rails instead of sitting on top of the frame. Thus one "stepped down" into a Hudson.

All Hornets were powered by Hudson's high-compression straight-six "H-145" engine. The L-Head (flathead or sidevalve) design, at 308 cu. in. (5L), was the "largest [displacement] six-cylinder engine in the world" at the time. It had a two-barrel carburetor and produced 145 hp (108 kW) at 3800 rpm.

Despite Hudson’s near-invincible stock car track record, sales began to languish. Hudson's competitors, using separate body-on-frame designs, could change the look of their models on a yearly basis without expensive chassis alterations, whereas the Hornet's modern, sophisticated unibody design was expensive to update.

Hudson Hornet Sales

1951 = 43,656
1952 = 35,921
1953 = 27,208
1954 = 24,833 (the final year before the Hudson merger with Nash-Kelvinator)

Production of the Hornet ended on June 25, 1957, at which time the Hudson brand was dropped and all of AMC's products took the “Rambler” name.

Williams First Repeat Winner
Josh Williams, not in a Hudson Hornet, became the first repeat winner of 2016, adding Madison to his trophy case alongside his Nashville guitar. Williams also gained ground in the national championship points race, getting to within 115 points of leader Chase Briscoe.

After nine events, there have been eight different winners – John Wes Townley (Daytona), Williams (Nashville), Christopher Bell (Salem), Gus Dean (Talladega), Myatt Snider (Toledo), Parker Kligerman (NJMP), Grant Enfinger (Pocono), Brandon Jones (Michigan) and Williams (Madison).

“This was a complete group effort today,” Williams said. “We weren’t even supposed to be here. We’re down on funds, and we came off the chassis dyno 45 horsepower down…not sure why. Other than that, the car was really awesome today. It was so hot that being down on horsepower probably didn’t hurt as much. I just want to wish my father a happy father’s day back watching back home in Florida.”

Williams, in the No. 6 Southwest Florida Cable Construction composite Chevrolet, led the final 87 laps en route to his second career ARCA win.

“I swear I could hear my dad in my headset…he always preached to me the way to win races was to get positions on a restart. He preached that to me from day one…that’s exactly what we did.”Kyle Weatherman candid at Madison 2016

Weatherman rock-solid in MMM debut
Kyle Weatherman, in Mason Mitchell’s No. 98 steel-bodied car, led the most laps with 109 laps-led but spun after he got tangled-up with a lapped car in turn four late in the going. After a speedy pit stop for right-side tires only, Weatherman finished second, just three lengths away from the winner.

“We had a very dominate race car today,” a disappointed Weatherman said after the race.

“I can’t thank everyone at Mason Mitchell Motorsports enough for their hard work this weekend. We led a lot of laps and positioned ourselves with a chance to win. Unfortunately, we made contact with a lapped car and spun coming off turn four. Our team remained calm and we were able to work our way back up to second at the finish. We needed a few more laps to catch Josh (Williams). Overall it was a great afternoon.”

Behar impressive – third in series debut
Nicole Behar candid pose Madison 2016Venturini Motorsports also had a productive day with two of the team’s three machines finishing in the top-five. Spokane, Washington’s Nicole Behar, in her ARCA Racing Series debut, qualified third and finished third in the No. 55 TRD Toyota.

“Awesome day with the Venturini crew,” said the 18-year-old rookie. “I can’t thank Toyota and Venturini Motorsports enough for the opportunity. Today was such an incredible learning experience. Obviously more time in the ARCA car would definitely help but I’m really proud of what I accomplished today in my series debut.”

Behar got caught in the outside lane early on and got freight-trained by several fast cars down on the preferred bottom groove. Her spotter, Frankie Kimmel, helped keep her calm while she battled her way back to the front.

“My spotter Frankie Kimmel was great today. He kept me calm and gave me great information all day long. Reminding me every single lap of the importance of my entry, he really helped me settle in and gain when I need to gain. I tried to do the best I could to save the car and save my tires today. I was just trying to get as much as I could today. I tried to do the best I could on a tough track with just one racing line.”

Hessert hits milestone at Madison
Behar’s teammate Tom Hessert got help twice from the Free Pass and finished fifth in the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota. Enjoying his first Father’s Day as a dad, Hessert hit a milestone at Madison, earning his 50th career top-five finish.

“I thought we really had a car capable this weekend,” said Hessert, who’s had an up and down season.

“We were really good early on in the run, but track conditions changed and we got so tight. I could never get it back. A top-five…all good. Onto Winchester.”

Hessert’s finish moved him to fourth in the championship standings as the series heads to Winchester Speedway this weekend for the Herr’s Potato Chips 200.

“Winchester has always been a great track for me and carries a lot of speed. I expect to compete there for a win. I’m expecting we’ll bring back our Salem car which was really competitive earlier this season…should be a good show.”

Rough day for youngster Eckes
Fifteen-year-old Christian Eckes had a fast car but a challenging day in the third Venturini Motorsports Toyota. Eckes battled brake issues early on and eventually fell from competition with a broken gear, relegating the Middletown, N.Y. driver to a disappointing 14th place finish.

“Rough day,” said Eckes. “Hardest part about it was knowing how good of a car we had in race trim this weekend. We had one of the best cars. I ended up having to pull off for drive-train issues and that was it. Good takeaway…I still learned a lot. Big thanks to these guys at Venturini for everything. We’ll put this behind us right away and start preparing for Iowa in a couple of weeks.”

Eckes finished a career-best eighth in his ARCA debut at Nashville back in April.

Majeski fourth in debut
Local Seymour, Wisconsin favorite Ty Majeski battled for the lead late in the going in the Roulo Brothers Ford, but the team overcompensated on a late-race pit stop to try and free the car up, according to Majeski. Instead of a possible win, Majeski settled for fourth in his series debut.

Drive-through penalty for Briscoe
Current point leader Chase Briscoe finished sixth for Cunningham Motorsports in the No. 77 Big Tine Ford, the last car on the lead lap. Briscoe beforehand earned the Menards Pole presented by Ansell, his fourth pole award of the season. Briscoe has won every pole so far on all the short tracks – Nashville, Salem, Toledo and Madison. However, a late-race drive-through penalty for leaving pit road with a wedge wrench still attached, took any chance to win away at Madison.

“Tough ending to our day,” Briscoe said on Twitter. “Got a penalty for a wedge wrench on our pit stop with 25 to go and got sent to the tail. Struggled all day yesterday (Saturday) but somehow managed to get the pole.”

Kurzejewski finds Madison “Tricky”
Matt Kurzejewski finished seventh in the No. 52 Ansell-Menards Toyota, one lap down.

“Madison is tricky,” Kurzejewski found out. “It’s a fast half-mile with tight corners. You are forced to hug the bottom of the corners and use a ton of brake to get around the track.

“I felt we could roll the outside better than anyone on the restarts,” Kurzejewski continued. “Everyone was focused on getting his car to the bottom while we could pass several cars on the outside if need be.

“We got trapped a lap down and that dictated the rest of the race for us. Although the cautions didn’t fall in our favor, we had a top-five car all day. That’s part of racing. If we were on the lead lap after the last caution, I feel we could have challenged for a better finish -- still a good day for our Ansell-Menards team.”

Brake issues for Kimmel
A.J. Fike, Thomas Praytor and Will Kimmel, in the second Cunningham car, completed the top-10, respectively. Kimmel also struggled with brake issues.

“Finished 10th, 10 laps down…lost the front brakes shortly after 50 laps,” Kimmel said on Facebook. “Car was ok…had a shot at a top-five. Just ready to get past this luck we’re having.”

Kimmel will get another shot to get past his bad luck this weekend as the Sellersburg, Indiana third-generation ARCA driver returns to the seat of the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Ford for Sunday’s Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at Winchester Speedway.

King of the Wing sprint cars, Top Speed Mods, Thunder Roadsters join ARCA at Winchester
The Herr's Potato Chips 200 serves as the grand finale in a giant race weekend that includes the Davey Hamilton-promoted 'King of the Wing' sprint cars, the Top Speed Modified Tour and the Thunder Roadsters on Saturday, which accompanies ARCA Racing Series practice and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell. The explosive and festive weekend culminates with the Herr's Potato Chips 200 ARCA grand finale Sunday afternoon. The Winchester Old Timers Club cars will also be on display all weekend.

Winchester Weekend Schedule
In addition to full on-track programs for the King of the Wing sprint cars, Top Speed Modifieds and Thunder Roadsters Saturday, June 25, the ARCA Racing Series has two practice sessions from 12 noon – 12:45 p.m. and from 2:20 – 3:05 Saturday. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is at 6:00 followed by feature events for King of the Wings, Top Speed Mods and more Saturday night. Raceday Sunday begins with an on-track autograph session from 12 noon to 1 followed by pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions. The Herr’s Potato Chips 200 gets the green flag shortly after 2 Sunday afternoon.

Winchester Media Coverage
The Herr's Potato Chips 200 at Winchester Speedway is also live on the American Sports Network (ASN) at 2 p.m. ET., Sunday, June 26. Aracracing.com will also feature live timing and scoring and live chat of all on-track activities Saturday and Sunday.  

Don Radebaugh
dradebaugh@arcaracing.com

Comments
Otis B Driftwood

i love the hornet