If the name Wendell Scott doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry; the driver — the first African-American to win a NASCAR premier series event in 1963 — recently became the first African-American inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking career, but he is far from a household name. But now, thanks to StoryCorp, Scott’s story of racism, persecution and alienation, as told by his son and grandson, Frank and Warrick Scott, can finally reach a wider audience.
Scott’s career began in the South when the Jim Crow era and racial hostilities were at their peak. As a result of this atmosphere, the driver was denied entry to many racetracks; he was passed over for any and all endorsement and sponsorship opportunities, meaning that the man funded his automotive career out of pocket and with the support of his family alone. The unsung legend received death threats before races, and Frank tells of one race where officials refused to wave the checkered flag until Wendell fell to third place, so that a black man would not appear at the top of the podium alongside a white beauty queen.
Despite this hostility, Scott persevered and continued to show up on racing day with his family in tow, searching relentlessly for his big break. Get familiar with the man’s story above.