Saturday, December 1, 2012
Yearbook, Dec. 1: Scott's historic win
By Patrick Dorsey
Dec. 1, 1963: In mid-November, NHRA Top Fuel's Antron Brown made history by becoming the first black driver to win a major auto racing title.
And this day 49 years ago brought another breakthrough for minorities in motorsports, as Wendell Scott -- the first black man to drive regularly in what is now NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series -- became the first African-American to win on the circuit.
His historic victory -- at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla. -- came against the likes of Richard Petty, David Pearson and more top drivers. Only it wasn't recognized at the time; opponent Buck Baker even took the checkered flag before NASCAR ruled that Scott hadn't been given credit for two laps he had driven. The trophy, too, wasn't given to Scott -- it was controversially misplaced that day and not sufficiently replaced until 2010, when the Jacksonville Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame gave a replica to the late Scott's family (he died in 1990).
Fourteen years after Scott's one and only win -- and nine after Scott finished sixth overall in points -- Richard Pryor played him in the film "Greased Lightning."
Scott remains the only black man to win a top-level NASCAR race. But as Brown proves, he's not the only one making waves in motorsports.
Scott, circa 1954, in his hometown of Danville, Va., with one of his earlier cars.
Scott, leading the pack in a 1961 race at Orange Speedway.