1952 NASCAR Grand National Series

The 1952 NASCAR Grand National Series was the fourth season of the premier stock car racing championship sanctioned by NASCAR. Once the season was concluded, driver Tim Flock was crowned the Grand National champion after winning 8 of the 33 events that he competed in. This was the first year that NASCAR scheduled its events to avoid the conflicts of having two races, at two different tracks, on the same day. The only exception was on June 1, when races were held at both Toledo Speedway in Ohio, and Hayloft Speedway in Augusta, Georgia. Herb Thomas finished second to Flock after competing in 32 races, and Lee Petty finished third in the standings that year. Throughout the 1952 season, a total of 261 drivers entered at least one of the 34 events. Virtually every American car manufacturer (at the time) had at least one of their cars start that season.

1952 was also the first season that sponsors such as Pure Oil Co (which later became Union 76, and eventually Unocal), and Champion Spark Plug Inc. started paying contingency award monies in exchange for the publicity they would receive by drivers sponsoring their products.

The 1952 NASCAR Grand National season was dominated by Hudson automobiles, winning 27 of the scheduled 34 races. No other make won more than three times. The reason the Hudson Hornet was so successful, winning over 80 NASCAR races between 1951 and 1955, has been attributed to its low center of gravity, 'mono-built body' and center point steering system. The center point steering system contributed to the car's superior handling and cornering abilities; allowing the vehicle to excel on the dirt covered race tracks of the day.

Palm Beach Speedway in West Palm Beach, Florida was a half-mile, dirt track that saw its first NASCAR event when it opened the 1952 NASCAR season on January 20, 1952. The 100 mile event was slowed by two caution flags, and was won by driver Tim Flock. 6,000 fans flocked, to see Flock, capture his first of 8 victories in the 1952 season. Flock started on the pole, and drove his #91 1951 Hudson, sponsored by Ted Chester, to victory. He claimed his $1,025 winnings with only five drivers still running at the end of the race. Flock captured the pole position for the race in 27.78 seconds, with an average speed of 64.79 mph. The second event of the 1952 season took place on the famed 4.1 mile road course of Daytona Beach Speedway, and driver Marshall Teague took the victory in a 1952 Hudson. Herb Thomas led the first lap of the event, but Teague managed to lead laps 2 to 37. 20,000 spectators witnessed 61 drivers start the event; but at the end of the scheduled 200 mile race, only 10 cars were still running. The race was eventually halted on lap 37 due to the incoming tide which encroached on the beachfront straight of the track. The third event of the season took place at the half-mile dirt track of Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Marshall Teague won his second race in a row in the 200 lap, 100 mile contest, defeating the other 28 drivers who entered the contest.

On June 29, NASCAR traveled to the US auto manufacturing center in Detroit Michigan for a scheduled 250 mile event, dubbed the Motor Sports 250. The race was held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds Speedway; a one-mile dirt oval built in 1899. NASCAR offered its first 5-figured purse of $11,675 to the contestants, and driver Tim Flock came away with the winners share of $5,050. Fans watched as Flock led laps 88 – 110, until driver Buddy Shuman took the lead for one lap on the 111th circuit. Flock retook the fourth and final lead change on the next lap, and went on to lead the remaining laps of the event. Shuman finished the event in second place, capturing a total of $2,225. The 4-plus hour event concluded with over half of the 47 contestants still running at the drop of the checkered flag.

For the 25th race of the season, fans and drivers assembled at the Darlington Raceway on September 1. The purse for the 400 lap, 500 mile event was $23,855; after six lead changes, and seven caution flags, Fonty Flock took home the winners trophy with an average speed of 74.5 mph. 32,400 fans watched as Flock's victory in his number 14, 1952 Oldsmobile, netted him a $9,430 check for 6.5+ hours of driving. Flock started on the pole, and lead the first 17 laps before the first lead change between 4 drivers. Flock recaptured the lead for the final time on lap 185. Eventual season champion Tim Flock and his #91 Hudson were involved in an accident on lap 321, but Flock stepped in and replaced driver Jack Smith in the number 9. While Flock drove the #9 Hudson to an 11th-place finish, he was credited with finishing 34th of the 66 starters, and Smith was awarded the 11th place points.

This page was last edited on 20 April 2018, at 08:23 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1952_NASCAR_Cup_Series under CC BY-SA license.

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