The story of Wendell Scott | Column | Articles

Each time we put up one thing on the Grassroots Motorsports Fb web page, it’s a complete guess as to the way it will do. One thing we truly spent a while and mind energy crafting? By no means know, it might blow up and succeed like the newest cat video or it would go over like Crystal Pepsi. 

Some time again I posted a foolish meme displaying a bunch of Spec Miatas flowing by means of Mid-Ohio’s Flip 7. One Miata stands out, although, as a result of it’s catching air whereas chopping by means of the sand lure. The caption: “All of us have that one good friend…”

For some cause, that meme struck a chord. The final time I checked, the put up went to some 2.6-plus million folks. 

So after I posted a hyperlink to the StoryCorps animated brief about NASCAR legend Wendell Scott, I questioned how it will fly. Did our readers even bear in mind him? The put up sort of took off, and that made me comfortable. 


Rising up, I adopted sufficient NASCAR to have my favorites: 21, 71 and, in fact, 43.

Plus yet one more: 34, Wendell Scott. 

Scott’s NASCAR profession ended lengthy earlier than my “Broad World of Sports activities”-watching days started, however I knew his story because of “Greased Lightning,” the 1977 Hollywood biography starring Richard Pryor. Fortuitously, early in life my dad launched me to the classics, together with “The Blues Brothers,” “1941” and “Greased Lightning.”

The story of “Greased Lightning” was easy: Scott needed to go racing, and as an African-American dwelling in a segregated Virginia, the deck was stacked mightily in opposition to him. Regardless of little to no monetary backing, the previous moonshine runner ultimately made it to NASCAR’s high degree, the Grand Nationwide division. 

He scored a win there, too, ending first at a 1963 race in Jacksonville, Florida. The following day’s newspapers most likely missed the win, although, resulting from a supposed scoring error. The Wendell Scott Basis’s web site explains:

“Scott began in fifteenth place and simply lapped all the opposite racers. He was arising on his 2 hundredth lap, the ultimate lap, and anticipated to see the checkered flag waving for his first-place end. The flag remained unmoved. Scott continued on for 2 extra laps anticipating the checkered flag to sign the top of the race and his victory. As an alternative, the flag waved for Buck Baker, who was two laps behind Scott. The judges awarded Scott third place.”

In a while, after the crowds left, Scott did get the credit score and prize cash for the win, however not the precise trophy. 

Ten years later, a wreck at Talladega ended his driving profession. On December 23, 1990, Scott misplaced his battle with spinal most cancers. 

His legacy didn’t die, happily. The Jacksonville, Florida, corridor of fame inducted him in 1994. The Worldwide Motorsports Corridor of Fame adopted swimsuit in 1999. In 2015, 25 years after his passing, Wendell Scott was inducted into the NASCAR Corridor of Fame.

Mojo Nixon could also be recognized for writing some foolish (and sometimes crude) songs, however he will get critical and downright respectful along with his 1986 launch “The Ballad of Wendell Scott”:

However as a result of he was black they stated, “Wendell, get again!

Boy, you shouldn’t even attempt!”

They have been mighty stunned once they seen with their eyes,

Wendell was passing ‘em by.

Our readers bear in mind him, too, because the Fb response to the StoryCorps brief was enormous–not less than by our standard requirements. The reactions fell into one in all three camps: 

  • I had no concept that this occurred, and I’m quite upset.
  • I do know his story, and I’m additionally quite upset.
  • That’s the reason I run No. 34.

Phil Osborne, one in all our Fb followers, summed up what many people thought: “Unhappy he was denied a real racing profession resulting from pores and skin colour…examine that…pathetic he was denied resulting from pores and skin colour….much more pathetic that my technology aided within the denial…”

For me, personally, I don’t care what colour you’re. Or what gender you ID as. Or what God you pray to. Or no matter attribute some folks use to divide us. We’re all caught on this rock collectively. Should you’re into automobiles and also you deal with others pretty, then you may be part of Wendell Scott in my membership.




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And he received in Jacksonville.  At one level it was mentioned portray our Problem automotive in his livery.

This man ran a NASCAR Grand Nationwide Group on a low funds with only a few sponsors in a small storage. He needs to be the Patron Saint of the Problem. 

For me the factor I most bear in mind is Ned Jarret saying the man might cling the again of the automotive out additional than some other drive Jarret had ever seen…………………mad abilities and large respect.

Snowdoggie stated:

This man ran a NASCAR Grand Nationwide Group on a low funds with only a few sponsors in a small storage. He needs to be the Patron Saint of the Problem. 

You understand, you increase a robust level. 

For a extra full story on Wendell Scott, learn “Arduous Driving : The Wendell Scott Story – The American Odyssey of Nascar’s First Black Driver”, written by Brian Donovan, himself a seasoned race automotive driver (SCCA) and twice awarded the Pulitzer prize for his newspaper reporting at Newsday in NY.  And coincidentally my son-in-law’s dad.  Brian handed away a number of years in the past however his guide stands the testomony of time.

I’ve an electronic mail previous Automotive and Driver that wrote him up – nice story.  

In reply to Richard Richer :

I’ve a duplicate of that guide. It is a tremendous, albeit unhappy story. 

In reply to Richard Richer :

That was a unbelievable guide.  I learn your entire factor in two days.




11/12/20 9:14 p.m.

My late buddies dad labored for varied NASCAR cup groups within the 60s and 70s earlier than turning into a east coast two cycle kart legend. He stated that Wendel would pull in for pit work and whereas his children was engaged on the automotive, he would go to the concession stand to get a sizzling canine earlier than reentering the race!

I am sorry, I believed you stated Randolph Scott……

Thanks for sharing. I simply threw it on my FB web page.



New Reader

11/14/20 10:18 a.m.

As a younger race fan that grew up within the Northeast within the 60’s & 70’s I bear in mind going to the NASCAR Grand Nationwide-now NASCAR CUP SERIES-events  that got here on their Northern swing.  Islip Speedway in NY, Trenton Fairgrounds Speedway in NJ, and Thompson Speedway in CT have been three of the tracks they competed at and fondly bear in mind the great previous days of NASCAR-real inventory automotive racing.  Petty, Pearson, Darrel Dieringer, Tiny Lund, Ned Jarrett, have been a few of the greater names of the day that got here North to race and at all times recall #34 Wendell Scott additionally being there.  Sadly most followers acknowledged him as  ” a black race driver” as a substitute of simply an excellent race driver that was competing very respectfully within the very high tier of inventory automotive racing.  Wendell Scott was really a pioneer in auto racing and needs to be remembered and honored not for being black however for being a real lover of auto racing who was expert sufficient to compete on the highest degree and inventory automotive racing for a few years.  Thanks, John-Lugoff, SC.

Would have been good to know him.


There’s a Warner Bros. film known as “Greased Lightning”, with Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott.

racerfink stated:

There’s a Warner Bros. film known as “Greased Lightning”, with Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott.

Yup. I noticed it as a child. Good watching. 

The Wendell Scott Basis has a Fb web page, too. 

I do not bear in mind a time when I didn’t observe auto racing.  As an 8 12 months previous I knew who Johnny Unitas was.  I knew who Mickey Mantle was.  I knew who Wilt Chamberlain was.  I might inform you how a lot cash Fred Lorenzen received in 1963.  I might inform you earlier than the race that sure, Junior Johnson was quick in Ray Fox’s Chevrolet, however it will most likely blow up.  It did.  Typically.  Auto racing, significantly NASCAR, was my sport.  Lorenzen was the man I pulled for however I at all times saved an ear open to listen to how Wendell Scott was doing.  Not as a result of he was attempting to beat appreciable odds.  Not as a result of he was an ideal driver.  As a result of he campaigned, on the time, a metal blue ’62 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe which, apart from the automotive colour, quantity on the door, and dents regarded similar to the one my Grandparents drove.  Chevrolets have been uncommon within the beginning fields on the time.  Columbia Speedway ran two Grand Nationwide races yearly and #34 was there each time.  Making laps and, I consider, at all times round on the end.  It will be awhile earlier than I might come to understand the challenges he confronted over and above that of each different driver with out sufficient funding.  However face them he did.  And deserves each belated accolade he receives.  

There are numerous tales in print and movie that try and convey Mr. Scott’s battle.  I’ve seen and browse a number of.  That is one.  Should you’ve not seen it but take a minute.



In reply to SuperDave :

Thanks for sharing the interview–hadn’t seen that earlier than, f’ racism, and Kyle is simply so snug on digicam. Did not understand the entire Petty/Scott connections as properly. 

“third-shift job”

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