NASCAR: Virginia Dedicates Highway Marker to Wendell Scott

NASCAR: Virginia Dedicates Highway Marker to Wendell Scott

The Commonwealth of Virginia honored NASCAR diversity trailblazer Wendell Scott with a historical highway marker in his hometown of Danville, Va., to celebrate his legacy as the first African-American to win a race in what is now known as theNASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR over his 13-year career at NASCAR’s top level that included 20 top-five and 147 top-ten finishes in 495 starts.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is deep with NASCAR heritage and support,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “Wendell Scott is very much a part of NASCAR’s and Virginia’s history. We join others in thanking the Commonwealth of Virginia for the honor they are bestowing on Mr. Scott, one that is well deserved. The Scott family has been instrumental to NASCAR as we developed our multicultural efforts, and it was Wendell Scott who served as such an inspiration to us all.”

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NASCAR: Family members feel Wendell Scott deserves respect

NASCAR: Family members feel Wendell Scott deserves respect

For years, Wendell Scott Jr. said he has attempted to share the unvarnished story of his father’s tumultuous journey as a NASCAR pioneer.

“I’ve done hundreds of interviews,” he said. “Most of what I have to say never gets past the editors.”

According to Scott, Jr., an incident at Bristol Motor Speedway in the mid-1960s is illustrative of the hardships Wendell Scott faced on a weekly basis.

“My brother, Frankie, a cousin and a couple friends came to Bristol with some uniforms we had made up,” Scott Jr. said. “Our names were stenciled on the back along with daddy’s No. 34 car number. Man, we looked great.”

The trouble, Scott Jr. said, started just as his father was beginning to make his practice runs around the infamous track.

“NASCAR officials came up to daddy and said that he couldn’t race unless we all shaved our beards,” he said. “That just tore out daddy’s guts. He was so upset.”

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NASCAR Honors Wendell Scott’s First Race

NASCAR Honors Wendell Scott’s First Race

In honor of the 50th anniversary of African-American racing pioneer Wendell Scott’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, all NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup cars competing this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will display a commemorative decal bearing Scott’s image.

Scott made his first start in NASCAR’s premier series 50 years ago – March 4, 1961 – in Spartanburg, S.C. On Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Fla., Scott became the first African-American to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

“What an amazing way to honor my father,” said daughter Deborah Scott. “Knowing that every car in both national series will roll onto the track this weekend with a decal honoring our dad makes me smile and makes me proud.”

Drive for Diversity drivers Michael Cherry, who last season became the first African-American to win at Tri-County Speedway, and Ryan Gifford, who in 2010 became the first African-American driver in NASCAR K&N Pro Series history to win a pole, will join Deborah Scott at LVMS to further recognize this special occasion.

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Omission of a Nascar Pioneer Stirs a Debate

Omission of a Nascar Pioneer Stirs a Debate

As construction of Nascar’s $146 million Hall of Fame takes shape in Charlotte, N.C., racing fans are arguing over the nominees for the first five inductees to be honored there.

But the biggest debate may be over a name missing from the 25 contenders announced last month: Nascar’s pioneering black driver, Wendell O. Scott.

“Wendell Scott was a hero Nascar didn’t want,” Larry Edsall, the former managing editor of AutoWeek magazine, wrote online.

The omission is also stirring broader discussion of Nascar’s past discrimination and what critics say is its continued record as the nation’s least diverse major sport.

Since Scott broke the racial barrier more than half a century ago, several minority and female drivers have competed in some events. Despite a nine-year diversity program, all but one of the 125 regular drivers in Nascar’s three national racing series are white males. The sole ethnic minority is Juan Pablo Montoya, who is Hispanic.

“It appears that all those splashy press conferences and impassioned speeches on diversity from Nascar officials were just empty platitudes,” wrote Allen Gregory, the racing columnist for The Bristol Herald Courier in Virginia.

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