Wendell Scott is the first black driver in NASCAR and the first to win a competitive race at that level. So, it is only fitting we profile and learn about him.
Wendell Scott was born in Danville, in the state of Virginia, USA. He served in the Army in the Second World War. From his experience there, he open an auto mechanic shop with help from his father. This kicked off his attachment to cars and racing.
When did Wendell Scott first race in NASCAR?
He started racing on the Dixie Circuit because non-whites were not allowed to race in NASCAR. He won his very first first race in Lynchburg, Virginia. As a result, he convinced Mike Poston, a NASCAR steward, to grant him a NASCAR license in 1953.
Scott raced for nine years at the regional level before moving up to the Grand National division in 1961. He won the Jacksonville 200 to become the first black driver to win a race in NASCAR’s top division.
But Scott was not initially declared the winner, as second-place finisher Bud Baker was announced the winner. Scott was later given the victory after officials found an alleged clerical error. This was not the first time he had encountered racism.
Scott, nevertheless, competed in 495 Grand National races, before he retired after an accident in 1973. He died of cancer in 1990.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Wendell Scott was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015. As a tribute, the movie Greased Lightning was released in 1977.
Scott’s son, Frank, told NPR that one of his father’s favorite sayings was: “When it’s too tough for everybody else, it’s just right for me.”
This line describes Wendell Scott perfectly well. He has been inspiration for racers who want to make it big in the white-dominated circuit.