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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Wendell Scott, NASCAR's first Black driver, left a legacy of strength and grace | Hagerty Media

If you think you know Wendell Scott because you've seen Greased Lightning, think again. The onscreen racism and offensive language in the 1977 film were tame compared to what Scott, NASCAR's first Black driver, actually experienced. Equally underplayed was his benevolence in the face of it. "Would we rather have had a yellow-brick road?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/people/wendell-scott-nascars-first-black-driver-left-a-legacy-of-stren...
30 REPLIES 30
geozinger
Detailer

I still remember seeing Wendell Scott in televised races in the early 70's as a young kid. Honestly, I didn't know he was African American until I saw the movie in the 70's, as on TV they never mentioned anyone's race/ethnicity. Not that it mattered to me much, by that time I was attending and even participating (as part of the pit crew) in dirt track races. We had our share of African Americans participating in our little bull ring and the local drag strips, too. It was just something we all did.
Vern
Intermediate Driver

I appreciate learning about Wendell Scott. I did see that "Greased Lightning" movie from years ago, as well as the ESPN documentary. It's been fun to learn about him and to understand him in the context of modern racers like Bubba Wallace. I'm not much of a NASCAR person, but I am a "car guy" (even though I'm a woman!). I'm also an African American and I know there are many people of color who love cars and bikes. We're out here and it's good to see our history in racing and car culture. Thanks for posting!!
427sc
Intermediate Driver

LOVE your post Vern!
Wendell fought some serious racism in his day unfortunately; both on the track and in his personal life I'm sure...
While I can't speak for everyone here, I'm glad that nowadays, it seems that the "car guy" population of America has pretty much grown up to be color blind and even gender blind.
Personally, I enjoy having you as a "car guy" along with me! LoL...
To me, we don't need to hyphenate our membership in that car guy "club" either.
No matter what we may look like on the outside or what dangles between our legs in the shower, motor oil runs through ALL of our veins, just the same!
😉
DaveP
Pit Crew

He was featured in of an episode of the time-traveling sci-fi TV show "Timeless" - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6885520/
TigerTiz
New Driver

Wow!
Solosolo
Intermediate Driver

I have just started watching the first episodes of "Timeless" so am looking forward to the episode which includes the Wendell Scott story.
Still443
Intermediate Driver

I got to meet Wendell Scott in 1965 at Valdosta Speedway. They allowed spectators into the pits after the Grand National race and he was very gracious and patient with teenagers asking questions and getting autographs. He, Tiny Lund and Tiger Tom Pistone were the drivers that stand out in my memory for the way they treated the fans.
llawrence9
Intermediate Driver

Could someone be good enough to identify the cars in the photos, and perhaps the dates?
I remember reading the Ford gave him an engine, or is my memory incorrect?
427sc
Intermediate Driver

I HATE calling Wendell a "Nascar" driver...
He lived through the age when Stock Car Racing was what it was called (and WAS).
Nascar is lace-pantywaist kiddie-daycare compared to stock car racing of his time...
Sajeev
Community Manager

Hi everyone, since this is proving to be a hot-button issue, I’d like to remind everyone of two of our house rules

 

  1. Keep comments on topic
  2. Don't damage someone else's reputation (threats, insults, etc.)  

Opinions that go beyond the scope the article may fall into these categories, so please do us all a favor and consider the thoughts of others before posting. You wouldn't want to drive on roads without rules, the same kinda thing applies here. 

DT
Detailer

So are you an administrator or just taking it upon yourself to lay out rules ???
Sajeev
Community Manager

I am the administrator.  The rules aren't made by me but I gotta enforce them. 

spoom
Technician

Does that mean my post got deleted, or did I just forget to hit reply after typing it?

Sajeev
Community Manager

PM sent

spoom
Technician

Thanks! Feel free to delete my question & your reply, all good.

RH-41
Pit Crew

Hey Hagerty:
I enjoy reading your daily newsletter, but the last week and a half the articles have had HUGE type. One word will cover the whole page, making it impossible to read. It took 10 minutes to figure out hoe to leave a message. Is it my computer or you?
Sajeev
Community Manager

Thank you for telling me about this!  I have informed the team about the problem with text size. 

Nathan
Hagerty Employee

Hi RH-41, 

 

Glad you enjoy the Daily Driver newsletter! I'm responsible for that product, and I wanted to let you know that I'll look into this issue for you. Thanks!

Nathan
Hagerty Employee

Hi RH-41,

 

I've checked with our team and we are not finding anything out of order on our end. I'd bet that it's something that's happening on your computer.

drhino
Instructor

Sounds like a great man; and a great father. Much can be learned from the way he dealt with stuff nobody should ever have to endure.
SJ
Advanced Driver

Great article!
Papa-tony
Intermediate Driver

Thinking back many years and comparing the basics of circle track racing to drag racing, the primary difference beyond the obvious is that one contests one driver against another and the other contests a driver against a clock. I'm fairly sure that is one reason that drivers are relatively so supportive of each other.

I'm sure there was/is racism and sexist problems in drag racing as anywhere else, but from my experience, this sport appears to be generally racist and sexually neutral. The movie "Heart like a Wheel" depicts Shirley Muldowney's acceptance into the sport and I'm sure she didn't have the magnitude of problems that Wendall faced, but they too were overcome.

I for one appreciate the differences in cultures and all the diversity that God gave to us humans... and hope to see a time when we are all just considered to be people, without any other definition.
hyperv6
Technician

Back in this era it was not easy being a driver period as most had little money and no support unless you were a Petty, Wood or Turner. . Wendell had the added challenges. 

For all the bad I do think we do miss how many drivers race several times a week and many had to race to put food on the table. Many like Wendell had to also work another job on the side too. 

I with today the money was not so great and drivers really had to drive to put food on the table. 

TonyT
Instructor

Mr. Scott was fortunate enough to possess a brain that didn't accept "no." He knew where his strengths were, and maximized and utilized them relentlessly until he obtained his objective. I use him as an inspiration much like I do my late father when I'm faced with a difficult task and all of the solutions seem to be out of reach. Perseverance is its own reward, and in the words of Morgan Freeman, it will be a wonderful day when we are ALL just considered humans. Skin tone and gender has zero effect on talent, it is how we use that talent that differentiates us.
DUB6
Technician

Amen.  I'm not trying to minimize the black (or any other) experience or culture, and I do not wish to homogenize our differences - but I sure wish we could get to the point where any human can just be viewed as "a driver", without mention of what color, race, or even gender is involved.  Yes, it's terrific when someone breaks through barriers - but what we need to do is work harder at eliminating the barriers and letting talent, skill, and work ethic be the benchmarks.  Simple to say and much harder to do, I get it, but we perpetrate the stigmas when we continue to label people and act surprised when certain of the labels are able to crack through into new areas of achievement.

tigercat
Intermediate Driver

Great story and history lesson. This guy never made it to the top of his game but at least made it to be in the game. When you consider everything against him from what appears to be a shoe string budget, lack of sponsorship, racism, obstacle's, responsibility for raising a large family all the while pursuing his dream, then he was a champion in more ways than the winners of those races who had far less to deal with. The real greatness I got from the story was of the man himself. He would have even been great if all's he drove was a hybrid Prius.
flightcancelled
New Driver

I had the opportunity to see Wendell Scott drive in a number of races at Charlotte in the sixties and seventies with my father, it was very memorable and he always conducted himself with dignity. We were there for his very last race, what an honor and a memory that I think of often. There is no telling what he could have accomplished with just half of the opportunities of everyone else on the track.
Jim1969
Intermediate Driver

I lived in Spartanburg in the 60s and mid 70s. People there who followed racing were well aware of Wendell Scott. They knew he was a contender, and many fans would pull for the underdog. If he had the financial support like the Owens, and Pearson’s, then, who knows how far he would have gone.
The dirt track in Spartanburg was at the fairgrounds. It’s been gone for a long time.
menelson1961
Pit Crew

I grew up in the early days of stock car racing in northwestern North Carolina and southwestern Virginia and was fortunate enough to be allowed pit access to most of the local tracks like North Wilkesboro, Hickory, Lenoir-Burke, and Martinsville. I was introduced to many of the early "stars" of the time such as Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty, Junior Johnson, Harry Gantt, and many others whose names escape me now. I was always impressed by the way Wendell Scott presented himself and his pride in what he was doing. When he and his crew came rolling in, many of the young onlookers like myself would volunteer to help unload his car or push it to his pit stall. I'm sure he received a lot of negative responses during his career but he was always one of my favorites.
1933ford
Intermediate Driver

Nascar says “We continue to be in communication with the Scott family,” a NASCAR spokesperson Matt Ciesluk told us this week, “but on that front there is nothing to share at this time.” Since practically all sports organizations have recognized the issue (BLM), I wonder why NASCAR has refused to take steps in this case?