Born: February 22, 1921 Died: February 11, 1959
Home: Daytona Beach
Marshall Teague, a Daytona Beach resident, was one of NASCAR's first stars and pioneers In just twenty-three career starts, Marshall captured 2 poles and seven victories in his "Fabulous" Hudson Hornet. He won on the Daytona Beach course in '51 and '52 when the event was shortened y the incoming tide. He won the first NASCAR race held on the other side of the Mississippi in 1951 at the Carrell Speedway in California. He left the series in 1953 to race in the AAA and USAC racing series after a dispute with Bill France, Sr.. Later, with the dispute behind them, Teague tested tires at the new Daytona International Speedway.
While testing Chapman Root's Sumar Special Indy Car (but with closed fenders) in a closed course speed record attempt at the new Daytona International Speedway on February 11, 1959, there was a violent crash. Then, there was the stirring news. Teague, only 36, died instantly. The incident, just 11 days before the scheduled running of the first-ever Daytona 500, cast a pall over the raceway. Speculation was that the track was unsafe and would produce untold carnage. This fortunately was untrue as the first Speedweeks went off without a hitch. However, Marshall's death so bothered Big Bill France, that open wheel Indy racing has never happened again at Daytona.
Known as the "King of the Beach," Teague was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in 1968.
Also: See the HUDSON STORIES page for more on Marshall Teague.
- 1945 First Race - Finished Second
- 1949 Won 200 mile Daytona Beach Race, Average Speed 88.23 MPH
- 1951 Won 160 mile Grand National at Daytona Beach
- Pure Oil Company, now Unocal, together with Hudson Motor Car Company, agree to sponsor Marshall, thus becoming the first company sponsor for NASCAR Racing
- 1951 & 1952 Finishes sixth and seventh respectively in the 2000 Mile Mexican Road Race
- 1952 Winner of the Daytona Beach Road Course
- 1951 AAA Stock Car Driver of the Year
- 1952 & 1954 AAA National Stock Car Champion
- 1953 First race at Indianapolis Speedway
- 1957 Finishes seventh at Indy 500
- 1966 National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame - Posthumously
- 1988 National Auto Racing Hall of Fame - Posthumously
- 1989 TRS/NASCAR Mechanics Hall of Fame - Posthumously
- 1991 - American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame - Posthumously
"He was one of the best,''
. . . recalled Cotton Owens, a former NASCAR driver and team owner. He truly was. Teague not only twice drove well enough to qualify for the famed Indianapolis 500, where he finished seventh in 1957 and 18th in 1953, he had the distinct versatility to also race stock cars. And Teague did that very well.
Although Teague competed in only 23 NASCAR Grand National races from 1949-52 -- Teague actually finished runner-up to Robert ``Red'' Byron in the first race sanctioned by NASCAR, which was a modified event held on the beach-road course Feb. 15, 1948 at Daytona Beach, Fla. -- he was a frequent visitor to victory lane. He won seven races, five in the 1951 season alone in only 15 starts.
Teague, however, in an apparent dispute with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., left the series in 1953 and began racing stock cars in the American Automobile Association and U.S. Auto Club circuits.
But before Teague waved bye-bye, he became one of its earliest top drivers, capturing NASCAR's first ever race west of the Mississippi River on April 8, 1951, the prestigious event at defunct Carrell Speedway, a half-mile dirt track located in Gardena, Calif.
Two weeks later, Teague won only the west's second NASCAR race, this time on a 1-mile dirt track located near 19th Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix, the first of five NASCAR races to be held in Phoenix (four) and Tucson (one) between 1951-60. The stock-car circuit didn't return until 1988, when the first of 10 such races to date have been held at Phoenix International Raceway.
But it all began at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, which was Arizona's first NASCAR Grand National (now called NASCAR Winston Cup) venture and also was the site of NASCAR's sixth race of the '51 season and 33rd in the history of the sanctioning body. At Daytona Beach
Teague made the grueling trip from his home in Daytona Beach, Fla., and according to one account of the 150-mile race, took the lead in a 1951 Fabulous Hudson Hornet on Lap 81 from Fonty Flock and led the remainder of the 150-lap race.
Thirty drivers started the race and only 17 finished, according to ``The'' ``Arizona Republic'' recap of the race in the following morning's newspaper.
When it was over, 2 hours, 21 minutes and 16 seconds later, a crowd of 12,000 watched Teague cross the finish line almost a quarter-mile ahead of runner-up Erick Erickson of Hawthorne, Calif. Teague pocketed $1,100.
The Flock brothers, Tim of Atlanta and Fonty of Hopeville, Ga., finished third and fourth, followed by Dick Meyer of Porterville, Calif., and Danny Weinberg of Bell, Calif.
What Teague accomplished that memorable April day 47 years ago, however, will never be disputed.
``One thing about Marshall was he looked like the most unlikely race car driver you'd ever seen,'' said friend Hershel McGriff of Green Valley. McGriff, who at age 71 still competes in NASCAR Winston West races, first met Teague in 1950 at a Mexican road race.
``He had a little pot belly, skinny legs and skinny arms,'' McGriff said. ``He looked like the guy watching from the grandstands. I remember we had a boat together in Florida and I tried to teach him how to water ski.
``But there was only a 10 horsepower motor on it and I couldn't get the boat to go fast enough and Marshall would end up sinking in the water.
``He was a good racer, though. And a real family man. He was very technical with the car. He could build things from scratch. I remember he wanted to build me a modified to run on the sand at Daytona because he thought my driving style would fit it. ``But we never got around to it.''
Teague, however, did get around to making a cross-country trip to Phoenix in 1951, making certain when he left, he was not forgotten.
Smokey and Teague
The guy who survived all those air missions over Eastern Europe and the Pacific was quickly caught up in this other form of survival soon after he opened his Best Damn Garage In Town and began a second life that still defies description. You might say that Smokey Yunick’s racing career began the instant after a kindred soul by the name of Marshall Teague walked into his garage. Teague, a well-known stock car driver and car owner, happened to be a Daytona Beach resident, too. He took Smokey’s slogan seriously and invited him to join his team even though Yunick told him he knew nothing about stock car racing. However, the eclectic garage owner knew where to gain an insight. He began studying the chemistry and physics books that he had collected during the war to find out how Mother Nature worked. The information he gleaned from his collection helped him discover the easiest way to make a car go through the air or how long a racing engine would run before it, in his words, “blowed.”
But the book that Yunick studied most was the one containing NASCAR’s new rules. In a piece entitled “Inside Smokey’s Bag of Tricks,” C.J. Baker quoted Smoke thusly: “You have to understand that when I got into this thing back in ’47, they didn’t have near as many rules as they do now. You could run whatever you thought you could get away under what NASCAR would call ‘being within the spirit of competition.’” This happened during what Smokey would later call his drinking days. Baker remembers Smokey telling him that people would come by the race shop for a few drinks, and the next thing he knew his competition was sniveling to France. “If you did something they (NASCAR) didn’t like, which was pretty much up to Bill France, they would fine you or throw you out of the race as ‘being outside the spirit of competition,’ even though there was no specific rule against the supposed infraction.”
Teague’s cars of choice were the new step-down Hudson Hornets—based on inverted-bathtub styling powered by an inline flathead six. The Hornet’s low center of gravity and dual carburetion and other special 7-X “export” items made it fast for its era. And with Smokey at the wrench, the combo rendered Teague hard to beat. Yunick was either a crafty, devious, underhanded, rule-bending, no-good, cheating SOB (one view), or a master of ability, hard work, careful preparation, common sense, and the scientific approach (the other). Smokey’s M.O. was simple: If the rulebook didn’t specifically outlaw this or that, then it was OK to do this or that. No porting or polishing was allowed, so he would paint the ports with hard lacquer and sand them to a mirror finish. Or he would pump an abrasive slurry through the intake manifold runners to remove the lumps and bumps. NASCAR said no boring or stroking, but there was no rule against offset cranks. There was a rule against using lightweight flywheels, but there wasn’t a rule that prohibited removing the ring gear, laterally drilling lightening holes in the flywheel, then reinstalling the ring gear. “All those other guys were cheatin’ ten times worse than us,” remembered Yunick, “so it was just self-defense.”
Marshall Teague and his wife celebrate a win in a 1952 AAA Stock Car race at The Milwaukee Mile
Teague, the Mechanic?
Featuring 1948's innovative "step down" body design which lowered the center of gravity and gave superior handling, Hudson Hornet dominated stock car racing in the early 1950's. Famed drivers such as Marshal Teague, Herb Thomas, Dick Rathman, Fonty and Tim Flock, Jack McGrath, 'Rebel' Frank Mundy and Lou Figaro were part of the Hudson team. Together they accounted for 13 wins in 1951, 49 in 1952, and 46 in 1953. no other car of the time could match the Hudson's bulletproof construction, low center of gravity, good handling, and factory support.
The true sting of the Hornet came from the powerful 7X racing engine. Developed by Marshall Teague and Hudson engineer Vince Piggins, the big six had a bigger bore, bigger valves, relieved and polished combustion chambers, high compression head, high performance cam, split dual exhausts, and and "Twin H-Power" carburetors and manifold. This combination boosted the big straight 6 up to 220 gross horsepower, a jump of 75 horses over the showroom stock figure of 145.
All the stock components made the Hornet nearly untouchable on the track, and a record setting 27 wins out of 34 starts in major stock car races in 1952 was proof!
Decals for Models ('56 Chevy)
At Daytona Beach
Marshall and his daughter Patty
Marshall also had a love or open wheel cars. Here's some of his Indianapolis Statistics:
Date of Birth: 22 May 1921
Died: 11 February 1959
1st Indy Start: 1953
Best Finish: 7th
Best Grid Position: 22nd
Cars: 1953, '54, '57 Kurtis Kraft
See the Marshall Teague Website:
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