Nearly 25 years after his passing, Wendell Scott, the first African-American driver to secure a victory at NASCAR’s top level, continues to make history.
His legendary career includes a historic premier series victory, championships and more than 100 wins in NASCAR’s regional level divisions. Today, he reaches the sport’s pinnacle, as a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Scott, one of NASCAR’s true trailblazers, became the first African American elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Wednesday when the 2015 class was announced in a special unveiling at the hall in Charlotte, North Carolina. Accompanying Scott in NASCAR’s sixth class are Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Joe Weatherly and Rex White all of whom will be officially enshrined onJanuary 30, 2015 at the Charlotte Convention Center.
“This is a proud day for NASCAR and one of the most significant days in the history of our sport,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “We are honored to announce Wendell Scott is a member of our 2015 class of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees. “Wendell had plenty of success in our premier series but his contributions, of course, transcended any results on the race track.
“His importance to our sport grows daily. At NASCAR, we are reminded of that importance with every advancement we make when it comes to diversity and inclusion. All of that can be linked to Wendell Scott. Congratulations go out to the entire Scott family, especially his wife Mary and his children. Wendell is where he belongs, where he has always belonged – in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”
Scott, a skilled mechanic and self-sufficient driver on the race track, looked past the racial prejudice that was widespread during the 1950s and 1960s to pursue his love for racing.
Part of Scott’s NASCAR legacy extends to present day with NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, the leading youth development initiative for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsport industry since 2004. The program has produced the likes of Kyle Larson, the first Asian-American driver to win a national NASCAR series race, and Darrell Wallace, Jr., who joined Scott as the only other African-American to score a NASCAR national series victory with his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last year.
Like many of his fellow competitors, Scott served his country during World War II in the U.S. Army. During his time military tenure, Scott worked in the motor pool developing mechanical skills that would serve him well during his racing career. This nomination comes during a seven-week period where the motorsports industry rallies under the NASCAR: An America Salute platform, to honor current and past service men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Scott’s overall career body of work earned him the sport’s ultimate honor in his third year on the ballot. Scott posted a remarkable 147 top 10s and 495 starts during his 13-year premier series career. He won more than 100 races at local tracks before making his premier series debut, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959 en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships.
Statistically, the Danville, Virginia, native’s best season was 1964, when he started 56 races at the age of 43, recording one win (on Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville), eight top fives and 25 top 10s. In 1966, he started a string of four consecutive seasons with top-10 championship points finishes in NASCAR’s premier series. But, perhaps the most remarkable fact about Scott’s accomplishments is that he didn’t start his racing in NASCAR’s premier series until the age of 40. He was forced to retire due to injuries from a racing accident at Talladega, Alabama, in 1973. He died in December 1990 in Danville.