Wikipedia: Wendell Scott
The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Wendell Scott page on 20 February 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Wendell Oliver Scott was an American stock car racing driver. He was one of the first African-American drivers in NASCAR, and the first African-American to win a race in the Grand National Series, NASCAR's highest level.
Scott began his racing career in local circuits and attained his NASCAR license in around 1953, making him the first African-American ever to compete in NASCAR. He debuted in the Grand National Series on March 4, 1961, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. On December 1, 1963, he won a Grand National Series race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida, becoming the first black driver to win a race at NASCAR's premier level. Scott's career was repeatedly affected by racial prejudice and problems with top-level NASCAR officials. However, his determined struggle as an underdog won him thousands of white fans and many friends and admirers among his fellow racers. He was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015.
Scott was born in Danville, Virginia. From boyhood, he wanted to be his own boss. In Danville, two industries dominated the local economy: cotton mills and tobacco-processing plants. Scott vowed to avoid that sort of boss-dominated life. "That mill's too much like a prison," he told a friend. "You go in and they lock a gate behind you and you can't get out until you've done your time." (This quotation and those that follow are from "Hard Driving" and are posted here by the book's author.) He began learning auto mechanics from his father, who worked as a driver and mechanic for two well-to-do white families. Scott and his sister Guelda were awed by their father's daring behind the wheel. "He frightened people to death," Guelda said. "They say he'd come through town just about touching the ground. After Scott started racing, all the old people would say the same thing: 'He's just like his daddy.'" Scott raced bicycles against white boys. In his neighborhood, he said, "I was the only black boy that had a bicycle." He became a daredevil on roller skates, speeding down Danville's steep hills on one skate. He dropped out of high school, became a taxi driver, married Mary Coles and served in the segregated Army in Europe during World War II.
After the war, he ran an auto-repair shop. As a sideline, he took up the dangerous, illegal pursuit of running moonshine whiskey. This trade gave quite a few early stock car racers such as Junior Johnson and Big Bill France their education in building fast cars and outrunning the police. The police caught Scott only once, in 1949. Sentenced to three years probation, he continued making his late-night whiskey runs. On weekends, he would go to the stock car races in Danville.
|20 February 2018 (10:51AM)|
Storycorps: African-American NASCAR Driver Was Driven to Compete
Storycorps, VOA News
Racecar driver Wendell Scott began his career in the Southern U.S. during an era of discrimination against African-Americans. His son Frank and grandson Warrick talked to Storycorps about Wendell’s racing days.
Download Storycorps: African-American NASCAR Driver Was Driven to Compete - 56.3MB - 2:31
|25 May 1963||Tan driver eyes cash of stock car derby Sat.||The Afro-American|
|17 June 2006||Forgotten NASCAR Greats: 1960's: Wendell Scott||Bill Crittenden|
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|