Born: August 29, 1921
Home: Danville, VA
Wendell Scott was born on August 29, 1921 in Danville, Virginia. Scott knew early on that he wanted to be his own boss and grew up learning auto and engine repair from his father.
After serving in the segregated Army in Europe during WWII, Scott came back to Danville and ran an auto-repair shop. As a sideline, he took up the dangerous and illegal pursuit of running moonshine whiskey. On weekends, Wendell would go watch the stock car races in Danville. He knew in his heart that he could drive a racecar as good as anyone out there. Scott got his chance when the Danville track ran an unprecedented promotion gimmick of recruiting a Negro driver to compete against the “good ol’ boys.” They asked the Danville police who was the best Negro driver in the area was and the police recommended Wendell Scott, knowing he was a moonshine runner. The date was May 23, 1952. Wendell’s car broke down and he didn’t finish the race, but Scott knew this is what he wanted to do. As expected, discrimination would plague his career.
Scott won dozens of the local races and became known as one of the best and most popular drivers in the Danville, Virginia area. Many drivers and fans came to respect Scott…appreciating his skills as a mechanic and driver and liking his quiet, uncomplaining manner.
In 1963, Scott won a 200-lap race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida…the first Grand National event won by an African-American.
Wendell as forced to retire in 1973 due to a racing accident at Talladega, Alabama. Scott died on December 23, 1990 in Danville, Virginia.
Wendell Scott was an extremely competitive driver, despite his low-budget operation. He finished 12th in points in 1964, 11th in 1965, a career high 6th in 1966, 10th in 1967 and 9th in both 1968 and 1969.