Monday, October 28, 2013

50 year breakthrough for black driver in a Nascar race, first Wendell Scott, now Darrell Wallace Jr.

In Martinsville, Virginia yesterday at the fabled speedway there, Darrell Wallace Jr. won the Nascar sponsored "Camping World Truck Series's Kroger 200", whatever the heck that is, and became only the second black driver to win a Nascar race in the organization's history.  He was the first to be permitted to celebrate in victory lane. He received congratulations from all, including the Nascar CEO who called Wallace's win "a remarkable moment in our sport's history".

The first and only other black driver to win Nascar race, a traditional one with cars, was Wendell Scott on December 1,1963 in a Jacksonville Florida based race.  Scott, from hometown Danville, Virginia, was a pioneer in being a black member of Nascar, the only one the time(the Wiki bio of him is fascinating).  Even though Scott won the race by a wide margin of two laps, the trophy was awarded to the second place finisher to keep Scott out of victory lane.  Hours after the race was over and the victory lane celebration completed, Scott was declared the winner but he never saw the trophy.  Scott died in 1990.  In 2010 Nascar gave a replica of the trophy to his family.

Considering the obvious racial prejudice at the time, especially in the southern based Nascar, Wendell Scott had a courageous 13 year career in Nascar races, during which he finished in or just above the top ten in point standings each year.  His best year was 1966, in which he finished 6th in point standings among all drivers.  He was primarily his own mechanic with help from Danville friends and relatives.  He retired in 1973 due to injuries suffered in a wreck at the infamous Talledaga speedway.

Members of Scott's family were on hand in Martinsville to celebrate with the winner Wallace.  With Danville being just 30 miles away, Wallace acknowledged his pride at winning the race in Wendell's backyard.  


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