Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wendell Scott Decal Commemorates
First #NASCAR Career Start

Since 2010, NASCAR has designated the first race weekend in March as a time to commemorate Wendell Scott’s first career start. Scott is the only African- American driver to win a Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series event in NASCAR history.

Cars in all four NASCAR series competing at Phoenix International Raceway (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) sported a commemorative decal.

The decals were applied to the B or C post of each vehicle during the inspection processes throughout the entire weekend.

Among all the trophies Wendell Scott won in his racing career, there is one that will forever be his legacy to the sport he loved.

It isn't much to look at, just some off-color wood with no plaque or varnish or glitzy, gimmicky metalwork. It pales in comparison to the gleaming, brightly polished trophies is sits among.

But that piece of wood, battered and beaten and sorry compared to the others, is the symbol of Scott's greatest day as a racing driver. It was Dec. 1, 1963, the day he won a NASCAR Grand National event in Jacksonville, Fla. Scott remains to this day the only black driver to have won a Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series event in NASCAR's 58-year history.

During the 42 years since Scott earned his victory -- which, given the times and the area in which it occurred was not celebrated as victories always have been, in Victory Lane with a trophy queen and photographers -- no black driver has even been close to accomplishing the same feat.

Randy Bethea shocked the NASCAR world in 1973 by knocking Darrell Waltrip off the pole at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, but that was in a Late Model Sportsman event, not Grand National. Willy T. Ribbs, one of the finest road racers in the world, tried out a stock car at Daytona but never qualified for the 500.

That's pretty much been it, in terms of black names in Cup racing on the driving side since Scott won at Jacksonville in 1963. Bill Lester, currently a Grand-Am driver, drove in the Camping World Truck Series from 2000 until 2007.

Scott, who died in 1990, was from Danville, Va., just inside the state line from North Carolina. It was an area rich in history for stock car racers, and also an area where it was not unheard of to run illegal whiskey from town to town in souped-up cars.

Scott was a taxi driver who graduated to running moonshine and eventually to racing stock cars. For any of those jobs, one had to be a master mechanic and a pretty nifty driver. In 1959, at the age of 38, Scott won the Virginia State Sportsman championship. Two years later, Scott was able to field a car for the Grand National Series. In nearly 500 Grand National races, he was in the top 10 an amazing 147 times.

Story appears courtesy of nascar.com

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