Source: Roger Meiners
NASCAR ran two races at the Fairgrounds in 1951 and 1952. The city of Detroit celebrated its 250th anniversary by teaming up with NASCAR to promote the 1951 race, which was won by Tommy Thompson, of Louisville, Kentucky, in a 1951 Chrysler New Yorker. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the event that the track would not survive a 250 mile race. NASCAR wasn’t worried, though,having staged at least 100 dirt-track races since 1949.
Thompson qualified third for the race. The great Marshall Teague qualified on the pole in his Hudson Hornet, but was disqualified and later reinstated in a big rules controversy over his new dual-carburetor setup. Teague rocketed away at the start but was challenged early by Sosabee and Tim Flock while the experienced Thompson watched and waited from his vantage point just behind the action. Teague had mechanical problems almost at once, letting Flock and Sosabee through before dropping out.
Thompson and Flock then dueled for lap after lap, but Flock was victimized in a massive pile-up that took him out as well as damaging the Plymouth fastback of Lee Petty in a roll over. Petty finished the race without a windshield in his well-smashed car. Curtis Turner, the fun-loving and controversial NASCAR legend, then took his turn in the fight for the lead with Thompson. Their fender-to fender duel went on for over a hundred laps until Turner tried Thompson on the outside out of turn two.
They came together and both crashed into the outside wall at the head of the backstretch. Both got going again, but Turner’s radiator was badly damaged. He chased Thompson for a lap or two in a cloud of steam before giving up. Thompson then took his battle-scarred New Yorker Hemi to the finish. On the last lap crew chief Bill Cantrell held up the pit board chalked with a large dollar sign. The $5,000 first prize was Thompson’s.