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Historic Moments

NASCAR's Battle of the Brands

From stock-car racing’s infancy, 16 different automakers have won NASCAR premier series races.

Over the course of more than seven decades, NASCAR racing has proven to be a highly effective showcase for automakers competing for victories on the track and new-car sales off the track.

Since the first race in the NASCAR Strictly Stock Series (now premier series) in 1949, a total of 16 different manufacturers have won at least one of the more than 2,600 races run during that time.

In chronological order, here’s where each of those 16 manufacturers found Victory Lane for the first time.

Jim Roper bested a 33-car field in NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock Series race. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center /CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images.

Lincoln | June 9, 1949 | Charlotte Speedway

The first NASCAR Strictly Stock Series race was won by Jim Roper, who drove his Lincoln from his home in Kansas to Charlotte. Lincoln, the luxury division of Ford Motor Co., would win only three more premier series races, all in 1949 and ’50.

Red Byron won on the sands of the old Daytona Beach & Road Course. Photo courtesy of Don O’Reilly/Dozier Mobley/Getty Images.

Oldsmobile | July 10, 1949 | Daytona Beach & Road Course

The now-defunct General Motors brand earned the first of its 115 premier series victories with the Hall of Fame combination of driver Red Byron (2018) and team owner Raymond Parks (2017), who went on to win the first series championship that year.

Lee Petty captured the penultimate race of the first Strictly Stock season. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center /CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images.

Plymouth | October 2, 1949 | Heidelberg Speedway

Hall of Famer Lee Petty (2011), the patriarch of the Petty racing family, scored his first of 55 career victories on the 0.500-mile Heidelberg Raceway dirt track in Pittsburgh. During his career, Petty won three championships and set the record for dirt-track victories.

During his career, Bill Blair won three premier series races. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Mercury | June 18, 1950 | Vernon Fairgrounds

North Carolina native Bill Blair had to travel to New York state to earn his first career victory and the first for Mercury. On the 0.500-mile Vernon Fairgrounds track, Blair bested a 23-car field to take the win.

Ford drivers have won more than 690 premier series races since Jimmy Florian’s lone victory. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Ford | June 25, 1950 | Dayton Speedway

Unheralded Cleveland native Jimmy Florian won his first and only premier series race in his fourth career start. Florian took the checkered flag at the 0.500-mile Dayton Speedway, one of the first paved ovals on the NASCAR circuit.

Marshall Teague kicked off Hudson’s era of NASCAR dominance with a victory on the Daytona Beach & Road Course. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center /CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images.

Hudson | February 11, 1951 | Daytona Beach & Road Course

Hudson was the first automaker to use NASCAR racing to sell its cars, and it was the dominant brand in the early 1950s, winning three consecutive manufacturers championships from 1952-54 with its Fabulous Hudson Hornets.

Curtis Turner was the only driver to win a premier series race in a Nash. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Nash | April 1, 1951 | Charlotte Speedway

Nash was one of many smaller automakers that briefly competed in NASCAR. The lone triumph for the marque came at Charlotte Speedway, a 0.750-mile dirt track. Curtis Turner won the race in a car owned and sponsored by Nash Motor Co.

Frank Mundy was the only driver to win more than once in a Studebaker. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Studebaker | June 16, 1951 | Columbia Speedway

Indiana-based Studebaker won three premier series races, all in 1951. Frank Mundy gave Studebaker two of those three victories, the first coming at Columbia Speedway, a 0.500-mile dirt track in Cayce, South Carolina. Mundy never won again after 1951.

Tommy Thompson waves to the crowd as he takes the checkered flag in the Motor City 250. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Chrysler | August 12, 1951 | Michigan State Fairgrounds

Chrysler began its run of excellence in its own backyard, as Tommy Thompson drove his 1951 Chrysler to a 37-second victory in the Motor City 250. Thompson made 22 premier series starts over parts of eight seasons, but this was his only race victory.

Lee Petty opened the 1953 NASCAR season with a victory in Palm Beach. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center /CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images.

Dodge | February 1, 1953 | Palm Beach Speedway

NASCAR began its 1953 season at Palm Beach Speedway in South Florida, where Hall of Famer Lee Petty (2011) finished a full 2 laps ahead of his Petty Enterprises teammate Jimmie Lewallen. Petty drove a 1053 Dodge, Lewallen a ’52 Plymouth.

Al Keller (l) gave Jaguar its only NASCAR premier series victory. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center /CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images.

Jaguar | June 13, 1954 | Linden Airport

NASCAR staged its first road-course race for foreign cars on a makeshift road course at New Jersey’s Linden Airport. Al Keller was the winner and Jaguar joined Nash Motor Co. as the only automakers in history with one and only one premier series victory.

Fonty Flock was a winner in a 1955 Chevrolet owned by Frank Christian. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Chevrolet | March 26, 1955 | Columbia Speedway

Chevrolet is the all-time winner in the NASCAR premier series, with more than 785 race victories as of July 1, 2020. The first win for the Bowtie Brigade came at Columbia Speedway in Cayce, South Carolina, where Fonty Flock led the final 66 laps. The only other driver to lead was Fonty’s Hall of Fame brother, Tim Flock (2014), who led the first 134 laps.

Buck Baker’s 1955 Buick, shown in the middle of the front row for the Southern 500, won earlier in the season at Charlotte Speedway. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Buick | May 1, 1955 | Charlotte Speedway

At Charlotte Speedway, Hall of Famer Buck Baker (2013) passed fellow Hall of Famer Tim Flock (2014) with 21 laps to go to give Buick its first premier series victory. A year later, Baker would win his first championship in a Chrysler, and in 1957, he’d pilot a Chevrolet as he became the first driver to win titles in consecutive years.

Driver Cotton Owens and car owner Jim Stephens made quite a haul at Daytona Beach in 1957. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

Pontiac | February 17, 1957 | Daytona Beach & Road Course

In order to deliver Pontiac’s first premier series race victory, Hall of Famer Cotton Owens (2013) had to out-run 56 other drivers on the fast and treacherous 4.1-mile Daytona Beach & Road course. But Owens was up to the task, finishing 55 seconds ahead of Johnny Beauchamp.

Roger Penske brought the red, white and blue of American Motors into NASCAR. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center.

American Motors | January 21, 1973 | Riverside International Raceway

Hall of Famer Roger Penske shocked the racing world when he decided to enter the NASCAR world, bringing American Motors Corp and its brightly colored Matador coupes with him. But star driver Mark Donohue made a winner of Penske and AMC in the 1973 season opener on the old Riverside International Raceway road course.

Kyle Busch won a career-high eight races in 2008 as Toyota quickly became a force in NASCAR. Photo courtesy of Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Toyota | March 9, 2008 | Atlanta Motor Speedway

After a lackluster debut in 2007, Toyota signed the team owned by Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs (2020) to a long-term deal, starting in 2008. With Gibbs’s help, Toyota started winning almost immediately, with Kyle Busch delivering the first Toyota premier series victory in Kobalt Tools 500.

Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen

Tom is the Curatorial Affairs Manager of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and a veteran of more than 20 years in the NASCAR media industry.

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