“Wendell Scott was to NASCAR what Jackie Robinson was to baseball. The difference was that Robinson played in liberal Brooklyn and had the backing of Branch Rickey, and Scott raced in the segregated South and had . . . nobody.”
The story of Wendell Scott is not only a story of a single man defying the standards of the Jim Crow South, but the story of a man who had a goal and a drive and determination to accomplish that goal despite all of the challenges laid out in front of him.
Wendell Oliver Scott (August 29, 1921 – December 23, 1990) was an American stock car racing driver from Danville, Virginia. He is the only black driver to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. According to a 2008 biography of Scott, he broke the color barrier in Southern stock car racing on May 23, 1952, at the Danville Fairgrounds Speedway. The book, “Hard Driving: The American Odyssey of NASCAR’s First Black Driver,” by Brian Donovan (Steerforth Press), says that after gaining experience and winning some local races at various Virginia tracks, Scott became the first African-American to obtain a NASCAR racing license, apparently in 1953, although NASCAR does not have the exact date. The book says that 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.
The Wendell Scott brand is a call to action to those who not only desire to compete at the highest level, but desire to be the best at the highest level. Wendell Scott embodied a competitive credence that giving up is way harder than trying. Wendell Scott believed that there is no such word as “can’t”.