Remembering NASCAR Pioneer Wendell Scott

 

Wendell Scottpic

Wendell Scott
Image: wendellscottonline.com

Keith Clinkscales has held executive positions at ESPN and Shadow League Digital, among others, over the course of a career in sports media and entertainment spanning nearly three decades. Keith Clinkscales has functioned as a producer on a number of award-winning sports documentaries, including Wendell Scott: A Race Story.

First aired in 2011, Wendell Scott: A Race Story follows the life and times of stock car racing driver Wendell Scott, one of the first African-American drivers ever to compete in NASCAR. He later established himself as a pioneer of the sport, becoming the first African-American racer to win a Grand National Series race, the highest level of NASCAR competition.

Scott’s story is similar to that of African-American sports pioneers such as Jackie Robinson and numerous basketball players competing during America’s civil rights movement of the 1960s. However, Scott faced a number of unique challenges. To begin, the NASCAR circuit heavily slanted toward Southern markets, meaning many races took place in the Jim Crow South. Unlike African-American athletes competing in team sports, Scott did not benefit from the same resources as his white colleagues. As an individual racer, he was often severely underfunded compared to his competitors.

A Race Story is both an uplifting tale and a reminder of work yet to be done. Scott’s win at Speedway Park in 1963 remains the only major cup race won by an African-American NASCAR driver. That said, he has inspired future generations, with Darrell Wallace, Jr., recently placing second overall at the 60th annual Daytona 500.

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