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Enthusiasts Wendell Scott: NASCAR’s First Black Racer Fought Uphill Battle

05:40  23 june  2020
05:40  23 june  2020 Source:   hotrod.com

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Wendell Scott was the first black driver in NASCAR and the first to win a race at its highest level. He spent almost nine years at the regional level before moving up to the Grand National division in 1961. He debuted in the Spartanburg 200 and two years later won the Jacksonville 200 to become the

Hall of Famer Wendell Scott was NASCAR ' s first black driver and even won a race on the Grand National circuit. He also fought blatant discrimination. Over NASCAR ’ s 70 years, that day marks the only one in which a black racer has driven within reach of a Cup win. In fact, it took 50 years for

We'll forgive any of our readers who don't recognize the name of NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott. Scott raced in NASCAR's Grand National Series from 1961 to 1973, but he never drove for a front-running factory team, nor did he rack up innumerable GN wins. Those types of accomplishments are the measures often used to define a racing superstar, but it turns out they're not the only parameters that should be applied.

Wendell Scott sitting in a car: 000-wendell-scott-nascar-first-black-driver © Hot Rod Network Staff 000-wendell-scott-nascar-first-black-driver

Related: Racing While Black: How Willy T. Ribbs Battled Racism on the Racetrack

As the first Black driver to win a race in NASCAR's top-tier series, Scott's experience was always that of an independent entry. Make no mistake, it wasn't that Scott wanted to be independent, with all the scraping by and financial sacrifices that had to be made.

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Wendell Scott stands out in history, not just as the first black driver to win a premier series race – but the only one. His sole victory, in 1963, was the peak of a career Scott was posthumously elevated into the Nascar Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, in an induction ceremony on Friday evening.

The US race -car driver Wendell Scott (1921-1990) was the first African American to compete in NASCAR and to win a race at NASCAR ’ s highest level. Like the baseball player Jackie Robinson and other athletes who broke the colour barrier in US sports, Scott is now celebrated for his bravery in the

a car driving down a street © Hot Rod Network Staff

In fact, over many years, he tried to convince manufacturers and sponsors to give him a chance with the funds for top-level equipment, but nobody ever came through. Many drivers of the era think Scott would've proved to be a top talent if given a better opportunity, but it wasn't to be in the 1960s. Yet Scott's record is all the more impressive when you consider what he had to work with. Over a 13-year Grand National career, Scott had nearly 500 starts, 147 top-10 finishes, 20 top-5s, and one victory: a 1963 race in Jacksonville, Florida. Scott's best finish in the season points race was 1966 when he finished sixth, and he finished in the top 10 in points on three other occasions.

Like many independent racers, Scott looked anywhere and everywhere to maintain and upgrade his equipment at a reasonable cost. To that end, he scored big in 1964 when he caught the attention of Ford and Holman Moody, when 1961 and 1965 champ Ned Jarrett put in some good words on Scott's behalf. "You have to remember that in this era of stock-car racing, technology was rapidly evolving, and last year's cars were quickly obsolete," explains Ford NASCAR historian and author Dr. John Craft. Scott was a benefactor of the rapid turnover when Holman Moody gave him a former Curtis Turner 1963 Galaxie in 1964. Scott then received a damaged exFred Lorenzen 1965 Galaxie in 1966, followed by the 1966 Galaxie you see here in 1967. (Scroll through the gallery to see more of Scott's Galaxie and archive photos.)

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Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott was the first African - American to win in NASCAR ' s premiere series. Scott finished in the top ten in 147 of his 495 Grand

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a red car parked on the side of a road © Hot Rod Network Staff

Ford and NASCAR Politics

If you've not seen a 1966 Galaxie in NASCAR trim before, it's because there are almost none left, and there weren't too many to start. A quick study of NASCAR history, explained by Craft, helps reveal why.

"Recall that Ford began a boycott of NASCAR early in the '66 season over turmoil related to the 427 SOHC. Contrary to urban legend, which states the Cammer wasn't allowed by NASCAR, it was actually given the green light to compete, but with a big caveat. The SOHC could only be run in the fullsize Galaxie chassis, and with a weight penalty that equated to 1 pound per cubic inch, so 427 extra pounds. Ford was already wanting to move to the more aerodynamic midsize Fairlane chassis to better compete with the midsize Hemi Mopars, which NASCAR allowed, so the SOHC decision wasn't welcome news for Ford, thus the boycott."

a red and black truck sitting on top of a car © Hot Rod Network Staff

By July, negotiations had come to the point where Ford teams began to trickle back into competition—this time using the Fairlane. NASCAR now allowed the Ford 427 wedge engines to run dual quads and allowed the competition Fairlanes to be built with the roomier and stronger Galaxie front frame stubs.

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Wendell Scott was the first black driver to compete in NASCAR . WSB-TV's Award Winning Feature on NASCAR ' s Wendell Scott - Продолжительность: 5:49 Les Montgomery 12 328 просмотров.

NASCAR Legend Wendell Scott has 1 ,915 members. A group for fans of the late NASCAR driver Wendell Scott . 1970 Trenton, NJ Wendell Scott surveys the damage to his Ford after a practice crash before the Schaefer 300 at Trenton Speedway.

The Holman Moody Connection

All to say that when Wendell Scott acquired this particular Galaxie in 1967, it was obsolete compared to the new Fairlanes and Hemi Mopars. No matter in Scott's eyes, as it was a quality Holman Moodybuilt racer, and he went on to campaign the '66 in numerous races. In fact, Scott raced both his '65 and this '66 during the 1967 and 1968 seasons, a period of time when he finished in the top 10 on 21 occasions.

Current owner Brent Hajek acquired the rare Galaxie and a truckload of Wendell Scott parts in the early 2000s, and turned to Randy Peterson for the restoration. After assembly at Holman Moody, the car saw its first racing with the Banjo Matthews team in early 1966 with Cale Yarborough at the wheel. Faced with this background, Hajek says he was a bit torn as to what livery to restore the car in. "I decided I had to restore it as Wendell raced it. Certainly, Wendell ran more races in it, and I have great admiration for his talent, work ethic, and core values that played out as a racer and committed family man."

a fighter jet sitting on top of a parking lot © Hot Rod Network Staff

It's a true statement that virtually any restored NASCAR relic is more beautiful today than it was when it originally ran. The same goes for the Wendell Scott Galaxie, but it's the nature of the beast: the cars were absolutely ridden hard in their heyday. Scott would probably shake his head at the lack of visible bumps and bruises on his old ride, yet the attention to detail was done out of respect for Scott, a man whose success isn't measured purely by his number of victories.

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Wendell Scott began his career racing cars in the South during the Jim Crow era in 1952. His son and grandson remember what it was like for Wendell as one of the first African - American drivers in NASCAR . They describe him as exceptionally talented and driven, “like Picasso—a great artist doing

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The Struggle Behind the Struggle

There's no doubt that the story of Wendell Scott's racing career is littered with roadblocks he faced due to racial prejudice, but it's also a story of inspiration. Inspiring from the point of view of doing more with less, demonstrating the fruits of hard work, and persevering through tough times in pursuit of a dream.

a man standing in front of a car © Hot Rod Network Staff

Scott was born in 1921 in Danville, Virginia. As a young man, he served in the Army during World War II, where he was a soldier and mechanic in the European theater. Postwar, Scott opened up a garage and also did his share of bootlegging to make extra money, where he developed impressive skills driving the backroads of Virginia. His first foray into competitive driving was in Danville in 1952 on the Dixie Circuit, which eventually morphed into 128 race wins in and around Virginia, and the Virginia State Sportsman Championship in 1959. But Scott had higher aspirations: NASCAR's top level of racing, known as Grand National at the time. His first GN race was in March 1961 at Spartanburg, South Carolina, and his first win came two and a half years later in Jacksonville, Florida. The 1963 season also saw Scott finish 15th in the points chase, so it certainly seemed a promising start.

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Yet Scott's success was marked by disturbing events that were motivated by racism. The instances are countless: being purposely wrecked on multiple occasions, even into his early years in GN; missing out on 1961 Rookie of the Year honors, despite a far better record than the winner; the "lost" trophy Scott never received after the 1963 victory in Jacksonville; not being allowed to run at Darlington until 1964; never scoring a sponsor; and on and on.

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A Family Work Ethic

But rather than dwell on negatives, it's in keeping with Wendell Scott's character to focus on the positives. High praise from his racing peers helps put things in perspective in this regard, with NASCAR great Ned Jarrett once opining, "He probably did more with less than any driver that I've ever seen." How Scott was able to run his own racing team, while at the same time operating a repair shop and raising a large family, is nothing short of astounding. To be sure, the family was an integral part of Scott's operation, wrenching on the race car, serving as pit crew, scoring the races, and traveling the NASCAR circuit as a family affair. Scott's wife, Mary, was a rock, a constant supporter, and a vital player behind the scenes. And despite the incredible challenges, there were many individuals in the racing community who lent considerable support to Scott. Among them were Earl Brooks, Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Ralph Moody, Leonard Wood, and others. Scott's humility, work ethic, skill, and character won over most drivers and fans through the years, and he had a rep for pitching in to help out someone else whenever there was a need.

a group of people posing for the camera © Hot Rod Network Staff

Wendell Scott's place in history as the first Black driver to race full-time in NASCAR's top series is secure, but more than that, Scott simply wanted to be known as a great racer, regardless of color. A study of Scott's story and racing record proves he was that, and much more.

How to Learn More About Wendell Scott

The Wendell Scott Foundation is a national non-profit established to commemorate the memory of the first Black driver to win in NASCAR's Grand National competition.

1966 Holman Moody Galaxie Build Details

a car engine © Hot Rod Network Staff

  • Engine: A Derric Staggsbuilt and machined 427 Medium Riser is consistent with the way this car would've been delivered from Holman Moody back in 1966, but we've seen pictures of Wendell Scott holding a 427 Tunnel Port intake while working on this very car, so we know at one time or another it was also configured in this manner. The side-oiler block came from Scott's very own inventory, which Hajek bought with the car, and is outfitted with a Ford steel crank, LeMans rods, and Venolia 12.5:1 slugs. The factory Medium Riser heads feature 2.195/1.72-inch valves, fed through a Ford aluminum MR intake and Holley 750. The cam is a Comp solid flat-tappet of undisclosed specs.
  • Exhaust: 1966 was the first year Ford teams ran headers the entire season, so the Hooker 1-3/4-inch tubes here are appropriate for the genre. The rest of the exhaust is simple: a short run of 3-inch tubing exiting out the side.
  • Transmission: Hurst-shifted, close-ratio Top Loader with big input/output shafts.
  • Fuel System: A custom fuel tank replicates what HM built in the day and features a rare cast-aluminum HM rollover valve. A factory 427 pump and filter draw through 3/8-inch lines to feed the single Holley.
  • Rearend: Full floater 9-inch with nodular case, Detroit Locker dif, 3.89 gears, and 31 spline Speedway axles.
  • Suspension: Up front are HM-fabbed tubular shock towers, HM control arms and spindles, jack-screw-adjusted coil springs, Monroe shocks, and a 1-inch sway bar. The rear consists of a HM four-link with Watts linkage, jack-screw-adjusted coil springs, and a quartet of Monroe shocks.
  • Brakes: NASCAR stockers ran four-wheel drum brakes well into the mid-1970s, so it's no surprise to see them here. They measure 11x3 inches up front with 11x2.5s in the rear—and metallic linings, of course.
  • Wheels and Tires: Original Holman Moody double-centered rims measure 15x8.5 inches and mount period-correct Firestone 8.00/8.20-15 Super Stock 500s.
  • Interior: The guts are spartan and restored to period spec, including the state-of-the-art-for-1966 fire-suppression system. The Holman Moody sandcast gauge pod hosts a variety of Stewart Warner gauges. Noticeably absent is a speedometer!
  • Exterior: Randy Peterson is credited for the restoration of this Galaxie, including the body and paint. Pictures of the Galaxie while Wendell Scott raced it sometimes show a red hood and other times a white hood.

Featured photo: ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images, edited by Ryan Lugo

a group of people performing on a runway © Hot Rod Network Staff

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