The first NASCAR Cup victory for a non-domestic car was a Toyota in March 2008, right?
That first victory came over 50 years earlier when a Jaguar won NASCAR’s first road race on the makeshift strip at Linden Airport in New Jersey in June 1954. In fact, there were three Jaguar XK-120 in the top five of the 50-lap race, won by Al Keller.
While Jaguar still produces cars, other automakers that won early in NASCAR’s first series have long since vanished from production. One of those now-orphan brands was a big player in the series’ early years and is ninth on the all-time winning list.
Between 1951 and 1955, Hudson won 79 races with its superior handling and sturdy suspension parts available. In 1952, the six-cylinder, dual-carbureted Hudson Hornet won 27 of 34 races, including the inaugural Canada Cup race held at Stamford Park Racecourse in Niagara Falls. Montrealer Albert Lemieux also raced at Stamford Park in a 1950 Meteor, the only car produced in Canada to ever race in NASCAR’s top series.
By 1955, Hudson was struggling, both on the track and in the showrooms. Its lack of a V8 engine put it at a disadvantage compared to Chryslers, Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles on the track, and the company could no longer afford factory racing support as it struggled to sell cars. A merger with Nash (who has a Cup victory under his belt) in 1954 kept these two on the road for a few more years, and this marriage between Hudson and Nash turned into American Motors that focused on small cars such as the Rambler.
AMC returned to NASCAR in the mid-1970s, earning three wins with its Matador. In its early days, Cup races also saw Lincoln win four events (1949, 1950) and Studebaker three wins in 1950. There have been other American cars long gone on NASCAR tracks, such as Packard, Willys and Kaiser-Frazer, but since 2000 it has been exclusively General Motors, Ford, Chrysler (now Stellantis) and Toyota cars.
There have been cars that can hardly be conceived in the Cup, such as the Citroëns and Renaults which competed in the 1958 Riverside Cup race, and sports cars such as MG, Austin-Healey and Porsche which competed in the New Jersey race in 1954.
Heading into the 2021 NASCAR season this past weekend, Chevrolet leads the constructor with 814 Cup wins. Ford has 711 wins, Dodge 218, Plymouth 190 and Toyota 162.