W E N D E L L • S C O T T A long overdue trophy presentation comes to fruition
Fifty-seven years after Wendell Scott’s lone NASCAR Cup victory, his family was presented a trophy for that triumph.
NASCAR presented a custom-built trophy to the Scott family before Saturday night’s Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.
Scott, a member of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, remains the only Black driver to win a Cup race in NASCAR’s history. He won Dec. 1, 1963, at Jacksonville (Florida) Speedway Park.
Race officials declared Buck Baker the winner because track promoters didn’t want a Black driver with a white trophy girl. Scott was declared the winner hours later. He never received the trophy.
“My grandfather, he did not rest his hopes on hopeless words like can’t or never,” said Warrick Scott, who was 13 years old when Wendell Scott died in 1990. “This trophy is a tangle artifact that, naturally, he earned, but it is something that will be a point of inspiration for untold amount of people going forward.
“… When I talk with groups of students … I don’t have to now in my story end with ‘and we never got the trophy.’”
He overcame death threats, discrimination and lack of funding to race on NASCAR’s highest level from 1961-73, making 495 series starts.
Now, his family will have a trophy symbolizing Scott’s victory.
“It matters because my father earned it, and it was something he had to labor on,” son Frank Scott said. “He always wanted to get his trophy and he predicted that he would get his trophy one day. He said, `I may not be here with you all, but one day I’ll get my trophy.’
“It’s important because I see the growth in NASCAR and I see the growth in diversity that didn’t used to exist, and I think that’s something that this will lay a really solid foundation to build on. Not saying they don’t have a foundation now, but … we got it right. When you learn better, you do better. It’s been a while, but we’re enthusiastic about it. We’re not getting stuck in the past.”
Wendell Scott has been honored in various ways in recent years.
In 2018, a section of highway near his Danville, Virginia, home was named after Scott and he was portrayed by Joseph Lee Anderson in an episode of the NBC time travel drama “Timeless.”
His legacy is also continued through the work of the Wendell Scott Foundation, which was founded by Warrick Scott. The foundation works to “expose youth to STEM-based educational opportunities and cultural enrichment activities that historically have not been assessed in under-served communities.”