Little Known Black History Fact: Wendell Scott, Greased Lightning

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Things changed for Scott when the Dixie Circuit racers, who were part of NASCAR, asked the police for the fastest Negro driver to compete against their seasoned white drivers in a gimmick race. They recommended Wendell Scott. Scott’s car broke down, but he knew that racing was in his blood. A year later, Scott somehow convinced the NASCAR licenser to grant him a license and by the beginning of 1963, he had won the race on the one-mile dirt track at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida.

Then on December 1, 1963, Scott made history after being the first black to win at the NASCAR Cup Series (Now the Spring Cup Series). However, officials miscounted two of Scott’s laps and credited white driver, Buck Baker, as the winner. Despite this, Scott won race after race and was always in the top ten. His top career earnings were in 1969 when he won $47,451. The driver held 147 top-ten finishes during his career, but racial discrimination prevented him from entering the Victory Circle.

Scott’s win at the NASCAR Cup Series was not credited with a replica trophy until 2010.

Wendell Scott died in 1990. His story was told in the 1977 film “Greased Lightning” starring Richard Pryor.

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