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2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott won only once in his NASCAR career, but it was groundbreaking – he became the first African-American driver to win in NASCAR’s top tier series in 1963. Scott and fellow 2015 inductees Fred Lorenzen, Joe Weatherly, Rex White and Bill Elliott will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015. Here are the Fast Facts on this NASCAR legend.
- Wendell Oliver Scott was born Aug. 29, 1921 in Danville, Virginia. Scott learned auto mechanics from his father as a youth, and those skills served him well upon joining the U.S. Army during World War II; Scott served for three years.
- Following the war, Scott ran an auto repair shop and took on a side job – running moonshine, much like fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame members Junior Johnson and Bill France Sr. Scott started racing at various Virginia tracks in the late 1940s, winning more than 100 races over the next decade.
- Scott was issued a NASCAR license in 1953 after being rejected numerous times because of his race. He competed on the NASCAR regional circuits for nine years until moving to the Grand National division (now the Sprint Cup Series) in 1961. While competing on the regional circuits, Scott won numerous races and gained a large support group of fellow drivers and fans who saw beyond the racial prejudice of the day and looked at Scott’s skill and talent.
- In 1961, Scott made his Grand National debut at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in South Carolina in March, finishing the season with five top five finishes in 23 starts. In 1963, Scott finished 15th in Grand National points; on Dec. 1, 1963, the start of the 1964 season, Scott won his first and only top-tier race at Speedway Park in Florida. Scott went on to make 495 Grand National starts over 13 seasons, ending his career with 147 top 10 finishes and one pole; he finished a career-best sixth in points in 1966.
- Scott passed away on Dec. 23, 1990 in Danville after suffering from spinal cancer.
- In addition to his upcoming induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Scott was a member of the 2000 class for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The 1977 film Greased Lightning starring Richard Pryor was loosely based on Scott’s life.
- Learn more about Scott and his legacy at www.wendellscott.org, site for the Wendell Scott Foundation.