Shuman shines north of the border


stamfordfalls

Canada Day in 1952, or Dominion Day as it was then still known, would soon mark it’s place in history. It was here at Stamford Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, that the first NASCAR race outside of the US would be held.

Stamford Park itself was actually a horse racing track, featuring a flat half-mile dirt oval. Hoofs shared these grounds with rubber as early as 1948, with local organisers staging stock car races until the Grand National Series came to town. In all, 17 drivers would take to the rutted track, including Tim & Fonty Flock, Lee Petty, Herb Thomas, Dick Rathman, and Hershel McGriff. Only one Canadian was entered in the event, Albert Lemieux out of Montreal, the lone start in his NASCAR career. He would steer a Mercury Meteor to tenth place, finishing 79 laps down.

The race as a whole would turn out to be one of attrition, though, with only 6 of the 17 drivers crossing the finishing line on the harsh track surface. Buddy Shuman went on to claim the victory in a Hudson, his first and last win in NASCAR. After starting the day on pole, Thomas would bring his “Fabulous” Hudson Hornet home in second, two laps behind Shuman. Third place went to Ray Duhigg, seven laps down in a Julian Petty Plymouth. North Carolina native Perk Brown brought his Ford home in fifth, 24 laps off the pace. Fonty Flock would end the day some 37 laps behind the leader, in seventh, driving a 1951 Kaiser-Frazer Henry J.

Tim Flock (pictured above), the eventual 1952 Champion, led early on in the 200 lap event. His day ended prematurely however, after Eddie Lenz flipped his Oldsmobile collecting Flock’s Hornet in the aftermath. Both drivers walked away unscathed from the accident. Petty, McGriff, and Rathman all retired early into the race, each with a spent engine.

This was to be the final race north of the border for several years, before NASCAR returned in 1958, to the Canadian Exposition Stadium in Toronto. A 21-year-old Richard Petty would make his Grand National debut that day, a race his father Lee went on to win.

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