NASCAR Pioneer Wendell Scott Left Lasting Legacy DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2006) -- Thirty-three years after his career ended, the legacy of Wendell Oliver Scott continues to stand proud. Scott was the first African-American driver to win a ...
NASCAR Pioneer Wendell Scott Left Lasting Legacy
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2006) -- Thirty-three years after his career ended, the legacy of Wendell Oliver Scott continues to stand proud. Scott was the first African-American driver to win a race in one of NASCAR's national series. His triumph, in December 1963, marked the high point for a man who made almost 500 career starts in NASCAR's premier division.
Scott's career on wheels began as a taxi driver in his hometown of Danville, Va. He served three years in the U.S. Army during World War II where he honed his mechanical skills in the motor pool. Scott started racing in 1947.
"He had been sneaking out to the local race track and nobody knew about it except one of his buddies," said Wendell Scott Jr. "That's where his dreams started."
Scott experienced immediate success behind the wheel, finishing third in his first race. He went on to win over 100 races in the next decade at local tracks. In 1959, Scott enjoyed his best season ever. He won 22 races and captured the Southside Speedway track championship in Richmond as well as the Virginia State Sportsman Division championship.
In 1961, Scott made the move to NASCAR's premier division. Scott made an impression on NASCAR stars including Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty and Glenn and Leonard Wood.
"He was a likeable guy, very likeable," said Leonard Wood. "He had a good attitude and fit right in, we always got along with him good."
"The most help we ever got was from people in the neighborhood, but one person I'd like to talk about as far as helping us was Leonard Wood of the Wood Brothers," Scott Jr. said. "He had this respect or love for the Wendell Scott family."
Over the next 13 years, Scott would make 495 starts, tying him for 27th on the all-time list. In his distinguished career, Scott accumulated 147 top-10 finishes, more than 25% of the races he entered. His career highlight came at Jacksonville (Fla.) Speedway Park on December 1, 1963. Scott won the 100-mile feature race on the ½ mile dirt track to become the first African-American to win a race in NASCAR's young history. Scott's career success earned him an induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.
NASCAR currently awards scholarships in tribute to Wendell Scott. Twelve Wendell Scott Scholarships are awarded per year to students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions.
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