The automotive industry is undergoing a monumental shift. And that’s probably putting it lightly, considering banner topics like electrification, autonomy, and software-defined cars.
One question is that, in the middle of what is proving to be a historic transformation for the automotive industry, do we risk losing the history of the automobile itself? The latest documentary from the Hagerty Drivers Foundation, The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, gets to the heart of that very question.
Hudson Hornet & Chrysler Turbine Car
The Hagerty Drivers Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that seeks to inspire the future of car culture while celebrating our motoring history. The Foundation provides scholarships for students in automotive education and students seeking formal driver training. In addition, the Foundation continues to build a federally recognized program – the National Historic Vehicle Register – that documents and records the important history of our automotive past.
Both documentaries are excellent in how they treat the cars and the people around them with the utmost care and respect. You might even get teary-eyed near the end of The Fabulous Hudson Hornet and The Chrysler Turbine Car.
One Wild Ride
In The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, Hagerty filmmakers take us to the sands of Daytona and the formation of an official sanctioning body for stock car racing, i.e., NASCAR. We hear witty expressions about why moonshiners needed fast cars and the origin of the phrase “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”
We are introduced to Hudson Hornet royalty like Marshall Teague, Vince Piggins, Smokey Yunick, and a humble, self-trained racer named Herb Thomas, along with his sons and grandsons. The archival clips of Tom Rhoades, former PR Director for the Hudson Motor Car Company, will make you chuckle, especially when Rhoades recalls how they initially missed the boat on Teague.
Hudson’s creation of a “Severe Usage Parts Kit” to get around NASCAR rules will warrant a smile and the archival footage of Bob, Fonty, and Tim Flock with Jocko the Monkey is the icing on the cake. Jocko rode with Tim as a “good luck charm,” but the archival footage that sets it up and explains it is incredibly entertaining.
The True Power of a Race Car
While screen time is dedicated to the engineering and design specs that made the Hudson Hornet a dominant machine, the actual horsepower – or staying power – is how this car has changed lives.
The Hudson Hornet in the film was inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register in 2022 as the only remaining factory-racing Hornet. Michigan collector Al Schultz owns it, although its forever home is at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. There are some heartfelt scenes with Schultz’s grandson Alan, who is on the autism spectrum.
I have two nephews, Ayden and Carsyn, on the autism spectrum. Both have grown up so fast. Like Alan, my nephews have thoroughly enjoyed the movie Cars over the years, famous for its Doc Hudson character voiced by the late Paul Newman.
In The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, Hagerty’s filmmakers introduce us to young Alan and his mother and share the inspiration behind why the elder Al had to “own that car” when they first saw it. True, the Hudson Hornet’s engine, chassis, and list of racing accomplishments will always be impressive, but what makes it fabulous are stories like this. And the Hagerty Drivers Foundation brings those stories front and center in The Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
Hagerty Drivers Foundation explores the birth of stock car racing with an in-depth film on the Hudson Hornet.
Featured guests include respected NASCAR and Hudson historians, Pixar’s Jay Ward, Richard Petty, and Jay Leno.
The Hagerty Drivers Foundation exists to ensure the future of car culture.
Where to Watch
The Fabulous Hudson Hornet is available for free via the official YouTube Channel of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation. It’s not even an hour long, but it will inspire and energize you. If you are a NASCAR fan and want to learn more about the history of stock car racing, take a look at this commemorative book that celebrates the 75th anniversary of the sport.
Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. He is a Midwest Automotive Media Association member and on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation. Like many Detroiters, Carl is holding out for a Lions Super Bowl win.