On April 5, Wendell Scott, the first African American driver to win a race at NASCAR’s top level, was honored by the Commonwealth of Virginia with a historical highway marker in his hometown of Danville, Va. The commemoration was scheduled to coincide with the NASCAR race weekend at nearby Martinsville Speedway. Martinsville is the only track remaining on the Sprint Cup Series schedule that the sanctioning body visited in its first years of existence.
“Our father was a proud Virginian, so this honor from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources is very humbling,” Sybil Scott, daughter of the late Scott, said. “We believe daddy is with us in spirit, smiling on his friends, peers, family and especially his fans and our mother who are witnessing the fruits of his labor. The historic marker stands tall and today’s representation by local, state and NASCAR officials assure that his struggles against the odds, but more importantly, his accomplishments are undeniable.”
Scott competed in the series now known as the Sprint Cup Series for 13 seasons before retiring in 1973. In 495 races, he posted a win, 20 top-fives and 147 top-10 finishes, racing cars he owned and worked on with his sons. That milestone win came in 1964 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Scott was an accomplished driver in other NASCAR series, as well. In 1959, he was the NASCAR Sportsman Division Virginia champion and the Sportsman Division champion at Southside Speedway in Richmond. He finished third in the Virginia standings in 1957.
Scott passed away in 1990.
“The story of Wendell Scott reminds us all of what gritty determination and eyes-on-the-prize perseverance can accomplish,” Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said. “I applaud Danville for working with the Commonwealth in recognizing Scott’s singular achievements. I am also grateful to NASCAR for celebrating Scott’s legacy this weekend in Danville and at the Martinsville Speedway, a remaining original NASCAR track, and bringing the story of Scott and Virginia’s motorsports legacy to the nation and racing fans around the world.”
– Photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR