by: Unique Hiram
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” – Jesse Owens
Determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort are definitely four words that would describe this one man – NASCAR Driver & Trailblazer Wendell Oliver Scott.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame 2013 Class was officially voted on and announced to the public on May 23, 2012. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate Buck Baker, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood for their upcoming inductions on February 8, 2013.
Since the announcement about the individuals who made into the NASCAR Hall of Fame class, there has been a lot of debate on whether Wendell Scott should have made the cutoff this time. Although the committee didn’t vote to place him into the Hall of Fame this time around, the NASCAR fans voted for just the opposite, making him their third choice to be voted in preceded by Benny Parsons and Fireball Roberts.
Here is my opinion on this subject:
Wendell Scott more than deserves to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame soon. It’s not solely about his ethnic background, as some would allude to, but what he gave on the track during the era in which he competed. Despite the racial tensions and lack of top-of-the-line equipment, Scott put his entire heart and soul into being a racer.
From 1961 through 1973, here are some statistical highlights about Scott’s accomplishments in 495 races – one win, one pole, 20 top 5s and 147 top 10s with total winnings of $182,381. Prior to his Grand National (now Sprint Cup) career, Scott ran in the Dixie Circuit – won 128 times in the amateur/modified sportsman divisions. Also, in his car affectionately known as “Old Rusty” he grabbed 22 wins along with winning both the VA State Sportsman and Southside Speedway Championships in 1959.
Other Achievements/Acknowledgements include:
- 1963 – First and only African American to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup event
- 1977 – Richard Pryor starred in “Greased Lightning” – moved based on Scott’s life
- 1999 – Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
- 2000 – Inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame
- 2009 – Inducted into the Racer’s Reunion Memory Hall of Fame
In the 4-disc DVD package entitled: “American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR, 1936-1971,” Wendell Scott was featured on disc No. 4 along with Curtis Turner. Some of NASCAR greats admired his tenacity and had awesome things to say about this history-making driver. Seven-time Cup champion Richard “The King” Petty had this to say: “Timing was against him but he came in and did something that nobody else had ever done. Two-time Cup champion “Gentleman Ned Jarrett” said this: “He probably did more with less than any driver that I’ve ever seen in the sport.”
NMPA Hall of Famer Tom Higgins, former columnist for The Charlotte Observer (1964-97), talked about witnessing Scott having a problem with his left front suspension during a race, how he went to pit road to assess the problem, got out of the car, made repairs for approximately an hour and then headed back into the remainder of the race to finish. “I was covering the pits that day, I was back there watching this and it was touching. It was tremendous drama playing out and no one was watching it.”
With all of the obstacles that Scott had to face, outside of dealing with the prejudices during that era, such as less than stellar equipment and lack of sponsorships – he is more than well deserving of being placed in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
In closing, I will leave you with this quote from Wendell Scott: “Would we rather have had a yellow-brick road? … It would have been nice not to struggle so hard. But we probably appreciate it more than if we had come up without obstacles. You can’t lean toward the negative. We don’t overlook it, but we just like to draw from the positive.” (Richmond-Times Dispatch)
*The writer solely expresses all opinions.