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Wendell Scott
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Auto Racer
    (August 29, 1921-December 23, 1990)
    Born in Danville, Virginia
    Won a race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida, becoming the first black race car driver to win in NASCAR’s Grand National level (December 1, 1963)
    Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2007) and NASCAR Hall of Fame (2015)
    Portrayed by Richard Pryor in the film ‘Greased Lightning’ (1977)
    He dropped out of high school to become a taxi cab driver.
    Like a lot of early NASCAR drivers, he learned to drive fast by outrunning the police while bootlegging moonshine.
    He began racing when the Dixie Circuit in his hometown decided to allow a black driver to compete as a promotional gimmick.
    His family did not receive the trophy he earned at Jacksonville until 2010 – 47 years after the race and 20 years after his death.
    He served with the Army in Europe during World War II.
    He raced on a shoestring budget.
    He had to put up with everything from death threats to drivers deliberately crashing into him.
    He said about not being recognized at Jacksonville, ‘The promoters and NASCAR officials didn’t want me out there kissing any beauty queens.’
    His son Franklin said, ‘He overcame many hurdles and he never let it faze him to the point where it made him hostile. I don’t know how he was able to do that.’
    The producers of ‘Greased Lightning’ promised him royalties but never paid up.

Credit: C. Fishel


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