Who Was Wendell Scott?

Quck answer

Wendell Scott was an African-American race car driver who competed in NASCAR in the 1960s. He was the first black driver to race full-time in NASCAR’s top division, and the first to win a race in the Grand National Series. Despite facing racial discrimination and obstacles throughout his career, Scott persevered and became a trailblazer for future generations of black drivers in motorsports. His determination and skill on the track paved the way for greater diversity in NASCAR and helped break down racial barriers in the sport. Wendell Scott’s legacy continues to inspire and his achievements are celebrated in the racing community.

When you hear the word “equality,” what comes to mind? Do you imagine people supporting one another? Do you think about the ongoing struggle for equal rights?

Most individuals would define equality as treating all people the same. When we witness unequal treatment, it takes a courageous person to stand up and address the issue. Fortunately, many brave individuals throughout history have done just that. Examples that may come to mind include Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, or Chief Joseph.

Wendell Scott was another individual who fought against inequality. He was born in Virginia in 1921 and lived during a time when segregation was legally enforced. This meant that people of different races were separated in public spaces, such as schools. It also meant that people did not receive equal treatment under the law.

From a young age, Wendell Scott had a passion for cars. In 1941, he became a mechanic for the Army and served in World War II. When he returned home, Scott worked as a mechanic and a taxi driver.

A few years later, Scott learned about a new opportunity. A representative from the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was in Virginia searching for new NASCAR drivers. Scott wasted no time in signing up.

This was a courageous decision. At the time Scott signed up to race, there were no other Black drivers in NASCAR. The organization had never allowed a non-White individual to race before. Many people wanted to maintain this status quo, but Scott knew he had to fight against this inequality. He wanted to fulfill his dream of becoming a NASCAR driver.

When he arrived for his first race, officials turned him away. However, Scott persisted. He continued to sign up for races and eventually competed in a lower division of NASCAR.

In the lower division, Scott proved himself as a worthy competitor in NASCAR. He won 127 races! Despite his success, people in NASCAR treated Scott as if he were not good enough. Officials still refused to allow him to compete in certain races, and at times, they even refused to pay him when he emerged victorious. Other drivers even targeted Scott, attempting to force him off the track.

Throughout it all, Wendell Scott never stopped showing up to races, and he did everything in his power to earn the respect of other drivers. After eight years in racing, Scott finally made it to NASCAR’s highest division, the Grand Nationals. In his initial years, he finished in the top five in twenty different races. However, his challenges were far from over.

In 1963, Scott participated in a race in Jacksonville, Florida. As the race began, Scott quickly pulled ahead of the other drivers. By the end, he had lapped them all. When he approached the final curve, he expected to see the checkered flag signaling the end of the race. However, the officials did not wave the flag. To prevent Scott from winning, the organizers tampered with the scores to ensure a White driver would emerge as the victor.

Despite officials declaring another driver the winner, Wendell Scott did not back down. He insisted that officials review the race. Scott left that day with the prize money, but the officials still refused to award him the trophy. It would take another two years before NASCAR officials finally acknowledged Wendell Scott as the true winner of the race.

Scott’s Legacy in NASCAR

After his historic victory, Scott continued to compete in races for another decade. However, in 1973, he was involved in a severe crash that left him with life-threatening injuries. Although this accident ended his racing career, Scott’s impact on NASCAR would never be forgotten. As the first Black driver to participate in the sport, his presence paved the way for greater diversity in the organization, which is evident in NASCAR today.

Scott’s struggle against inequality in NASCAR serves as a reminder that injustices still persist in various parts of the world. Have you ever witnessed unfair treatment towards others? Are there places where you wish acceptance was more widespread? How can we work together to create a more equitable world?

Engage in the Experience

Remember to seek assistance from an adult friend or family member for these activities!

  • If you want to delve deeper into Wendell Scott’s life, read a brief biography about him and compare it to the information presented in today’s Wonder. What new details did you discover? Do you have any lingering questions about Wendell Scott?
  • Learn more about the fight against segregation. After reading, summarize your newfound knowledge for a friend or family member. Additionally, inquire if they can share any additional insights about segregation or the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Have you ever personally witnessed inequality? Write a paragraph describing your experience. What transpired? Who was involved? How did you respond? Would you handle the situation differently if it were to occur again?


  • https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/sports-and-games/sports-biographies/wendell-oliver-scott (accessed 22 Jan., 2019)
  • https://www.npr.org/2015/01/30/382444955/african-american-nascar-driver-raced-like-a-great-artist (accessed 22 Jan., 2019)
  • http://www.greatblackheroes.com/sports/wendell-scott/ (accessed 22 Jan., 2019)


1. Who was Wendell Scott?

Wendell Scott was an African American race car driver who made history by becoming the first black driver to compete full-time in NASCAR’s top series. Born in 1921 in Danville, Virginia, Scott faced racial discrimination and segregation throughout his career. Despite facing numerous challenges, he persevered and became a trailblazer in the sport.

2. What were some of Wendell Scott’s achievements?

Wendell Scott’s achievements include being the first African American to win a race in NASCAR’s top division. He achieved this milestone on December 1, 1963, at the Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Scott also had a successful career in the sport, with 147 top-ten finishes and 20 top-five finishes. His legacy as a pioneer and barrier-breaker in NASCAR continues to inspire aspiring drivers.

3. How did Wendell Scott overcome racial barriers in NASCAR?

Wendell Scott faced racial barriers throughout his career. He often had to use separate facilities and dealt with racism from other drivers and fans. Despite these challenges, Scott remained determined and focused on his racing. He relied on his talent and perseverance to overcome these barriers, and his win at the Speedway Park in 1963 was a significant milestone in breaking down racial barriers in the sport.

4. What impact did Wendell Scott have on NASCAR?

Wendell Scott’s impact on NASCAR was significant. As the first black driver in the top series, he paved the way for future generations of African American drivers. His achievements and determination helped break down racial barriers in the sport and inspired others to pursue their dreams. Scott’s legacy continues to be celebrated, and he is remembered as a trailblazer and a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity.

5. How is Wendell Scott remembered today?

Wendell Scott is remembered as a pioneering figure in NASCAR history. His legacy is celebrated through various means, including the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to diversity in motorsports. Scott’s story is also shared through documentaries and exhibitions, ensuring that his impact on the sport is not forgotten. Today, his determination and perseverance continue to inspire aspiring drivers and fans alike.

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