The third race of the 1964 season would take place on December 1, 1963, on the half-mile dirt track known as Jacksonville Speedway Park located in Jacksonville, Fla. Ned Jarrett had won the firstrace of the 1964 season on the half-mile dirt track in Concord, NC, and Fireball Roberts won on road course in Augusta, Georgia in the second outing of the season.
Jack Smith put his Plymouth on the pole for this race, and Richard Petty in a Petty Engineering Plymouth would start second. Third place starter Jimmy Lee Capps was also driving a Plymouth. Billy Wade in a Cotton Owens Dodge would start fourth and Ned Jarrett would start his Burton-Robinson Ford in fifth place. Jack's pole winning speed was 70.921 mph. Maurice Petty attempted to qualify a second Petty Plymouth but crashed on his qualifying attempt and did not start the race.
Jack Smith led the first lap and held onto that lead until lap 21 when Ned Jarrett took over. Somewhere between lad 21 and lap 176, Richard Petty took the lead from Jarrett. While that may seem an avoidance of the leader issue, what comes next is even more suspicious.
Buck Baker, driving his own Pontiac was flagged the winner of the race having completed the scheduled 200 laps. Immediately upon dismounting from his car in the pits, Wendell Scott, the independant driver from Danville, Va, filed a protestclaiming that he had won the race because he had actually passed Buck Baker 3 times during the race. Counter protests were filed and NASCAR officials began attempts to sort this all out.
The 5,000 fans who attended the race, watched Buck get the trophy and kiss the beauty queen and were, for the most part, gone some four hours later when Johnny Bruner, Sr.. NASCAR's Chief Scorer confirmed that Wendell's scorer had actually missed two laps when the number 34 Chevrolet went by so, in fact, Wendell had completed 202 laps compared to Buck's 200 and Wendell was declared the winner although few were around to see his victory. By the time NASCAR made their decision, the fans were gone, most of the competitors were gone, and the beauty queen was gone. The worst of it, according to Wendell, was HIS trophy was gone.
There were 5 caution flags for a total of 24 laps which slowed the average winning speed to 58.242 mph. The most spectacular of the caution incidents was when Larry Thomas took a wild ride in his Dodge, actually tumbling into the catch fence above the guard rail.
1. Wendell Scott, Scott Chevrolet, winning $1,000.00
2. Buck Baker, Baker Pontiac, winning $600.00 (2 laps down)
3. Jack Smith, Smith Plymouth, winning $400.00 (3 laps down)
4. Ed Livingston, Livingston Ford, winning $300.00 (7 laps down)
5. Richard Petty, Petty Engineering Plymouth, winning $275.00 (8 laps down)
6. Neil Castles
7. Ned Jarrett
8. Buddy Arrington
9. Johnny Allen
10. Billy Wade
11. Possum Jones
12. Tiny Lund
13. Jack Anderson
14. Joe Weatherly
15. Roy Tyner
16. David Pearson
17. G. C. Spencer
18. Larry Thomas
19. Jimmy Lee Capps
20. LeeRoy Yarbrough
21. Curtis Crider
22. Jimmy Pardue
PERSONAL NOTES: There is no doubt in my mind, or the minds of many around back in those days, that the "scoring mix up" was a contrived effort by NASCAR to avoid placing a black driver in Victory Lane with a white beauty queen, especially in a place like Jacksonville, Fla. I was not at that race but I have talked to a fan or two who happened to be there and it was clear to them that Wendell took the lead for good with about 25 to go but some think it was even earlier than that.
There may be some of you reading this who do not know that Wendell was barred from runnin at Darlington for a couple of years because of the color of his skin. Of course we all know that NASCAR is now proud, and rightly so, of its "Drive for Diversity", but they have a lot of making up to do for the injustices done to Wendell Scott.
I have relayed Wendell Scott stories before in some of the posts I have made here. Wendell was always very nice to me and always seemed to find something to laugh about when I would hang around. You see, it was easy to hang around Wendell and his crew (his sons) and learn from what he was doing. At first I was too young to realize what, in fact, was being accomplished by Wendell Scott. That man was a determined competitor, as determined as anyone out there. He ran what he could afford and as he seemed to be slapped in the face every direction he turned, he accomplished great things. Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Smokey Yunick and others helped Wendell out with parts and pieces and sometimes whole cars, but what Wendell accomplished he accomplished through his hard work and dedication to the sport.
I watch Darrell Wallace, Jr. running these days with all the advantages the Diversity Program has to offer and watch his success at such an early age. I can't help but think of where Wendell Scott would go with such backing.
As I look back on those days of hanging out with Wendell, sometimes when he had fallen out of a race early, my biggest memory is that I never thought of Wendell as a "black man" an "African-American". I thought of him as a race driver and a very fine one. Somehow I think that's how Wendell would like it.
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future
updated by @tim-leeming: 01/10/20 07:58:01PM