wendell scott

Coffee with Kyle: The life and times of Wendell Scott

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In 1952, a track promoter went to the police station in Danville, Virginia, looking for recommendations on bootleggers to use as a marketing ploy for the “Dixie Circuit.”

“What they told him at the police station was, ‘The one you really want is Wendell Scott,” said Frank Scott on the latest episode of “Coffee with Kyle.”

Kyle Petty visited Danville, a town located 33 miles east of Martinsville, to talk with the family of NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott, the only African-American driver to win a premier level NASCAR race (Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida).

Petty sat down with his son, Frank, and grandson, Warrick, to discuss Wendell’s life and career.

Petty asked how Scott was attracted to stock car racing, a predominately white sport in the segregated south.

“He loved speed,” Frank said. “He and one of his friends used to go to the Danville fairgrounds and race there. He was already a bootlegger. But he said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.”

Scott eventually gave NASCAR a shot. Petty tells the story of Scott being denied entry into a race in High Point, North Carolina, where he told a white driver could race in his car. Scott refused.

It was one of many instances where the color of Scott’s skin negatively impacted his racing dreams, including being refused the trophy for his win in 1963 … after he beat second place by two laps.

He eventually got a NASCAR license and competed as an independent driver from 1961-73.

“There wasn’t but one place in that era that wouldn’t allow us to race, and that was Darlington,” Frank said of the track, which used a Confederate flag to start races at the time. “In ’62, ’63 and ’64 his entries were rejected. … Then when the Civil Rights Act passed we ran at Darlington in ’65 and then on.”

One snub that stayed with Scott was the 1961 Rookie of the Year Award. While Scott competed in 23 of 52 races that year and claimed five top 10s, the award went to a driver named Woodie Wilson, who made five starts and had one top 10.

“I think my father, other than not getting his trophy at Jacksonville, that’s one of things that bothered him more throughout his career, throughout his life to not receive Rookie of the Year honors,” Frank said. “That was a travesty.”

The legacy of Wendell Scott is still seen decades later. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2018, a section of highway near Danville was named after him and he was portrayed by Joseph Lee Anderson in an episode of the NBC time travel drama “Timeless.”

His legacy is also continued through the work of the Wendell Scott Foundation, which was founded by Warrick. The foundation works to “expose youth to STEM-based educational opportunities and cultural enrichment activities that historically have not been assessed in under-served communities.”

Watch the above video for more on Wendell Scott and his history with the Petty family.

 

 

Section of Virginia highway named after Hall of Famer Wendell Scott

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott was honored on Saturday with a stretch of Virginia highway officially being named after him, the Danville Register & Bee reported.

Scott, the first and only African-American driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, was honored with the Wendell O. Scott Sr. Memorial Highway in Danville, Virginia, his hometown. The portion of U.S. 29 named after Scott runs from the southeast corner of the city and ends at a northwest point near the city limits.

The measure was approved by the Danville City Council in June.

The ceremony to christen the highway was held at the Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. It was attended by Scott’s son, William Scott Sr., and his grandson, Warrick Scott.

William Scott Sr. called the event “a dream come true” according to the Danville Register & Bee.

Wendell Scott, who died Dec. 23, 1990 at 69, was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015. He made 495 Cup starts. In addition to his win, he earned 20 top fives and 147 top 10s.

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Hall of Famer Bill Elliott to drive at Road America for GMS Racing

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – GMS Racing announced Saturday that 62-year-old Bill Elliott will drive the team’s No. 23 Xfinity car Aug. 25 at Road America.

It will be the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s first race in NASCAR since July 2012 at Daytona International Speedway. His last Xfinity race was October 2005 at Memphis.

“When this opportunity came up … I had to jump on it,” said Bill Elliott in a statement from the team. “Chase (Elliott) has ran a handful of races for the team so I figured I would give it a shot at Road America. (GMS President Mike) Beam and I have worked together in the past, so it will be exciting to get back behind the wheel and bring back some old memories.”

Elliott, the 1988 Cup champion, is a part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015, joining Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. Elliott had 44 Cup wins and 55 poles in his career. His lone Xfinity win came in 1993 at Watkins Glen International.

Beam was Elliott’s crew chief in 1990 and 1993-94 and for numerous races in 1995, ’96 and ’97.

“We are thrilled to welcome Bill (Elliott) to the GMS Racing family,” said president of GMS Racing, Mike Beam in a statement from the team. “Bill has many years in NASCAR and it’s going to be great to watch him come back, especially in GMS equipment. Bill and I worked together back in the day and had a lot of success so hopefully we can pick up where we left off and create some more great memories.”

Because Elliott has never raced in NASCAR at Road America, the Hall of Famer will need to attend the rookie meeting that weekend.

Asked if he had any advice for his dad, Chase Elliott said with a smile: “No.”

Chase Elliott said he’d like to attend that weekend. It is an off-weekend for Cup, so will Chase try to find a ride to race his dad?

“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you,” Chase Elliott said. “The tough thing is you want to go and put a real solid effort together and you just hate to throw a car and a team together up there to go do it. I’m not sure, you never know. There’s still a few weeks out. No plans right now.”

Chase Elliott said he and his dad have raced against each other in late models but not recently. Chase said that his dad has done some vintage racing. He ran at Road Atlanta in March. He participated in a test day at Road America but mechanical issues prevented him from competing.

Fellow Georgia racer David Ragan is excited to see Elliott back in a car in NASCAR.

“Bill Elliott is timeless,” Ragan said. “That’s awesome … Bill’s obviously a hero for a lot of Georgia racers, including myself. It’s crazy to think that he has had a NASCAR license longer than I’ve been alive. That’s cool. I’ll definitely tune in and be watching.”

The Road America Xfinity race will air on NBCSN. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green on Aug. 25. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET.

 

 

Danville, Va., City Council approves naming highway after Wendell Scott

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott will be recognized by his hometown of Danville, Virginia, with a highway bearing his name.

The Danville City Council approved a measure last week to name the US 58/29 bypass after Scott, the only African-American to win a NASCAR Cup Series race.

The stretch of road will be named the Wendell O. Scott Sr. Memorial Highway.

“I want to thank city council and city management for being in such agreement for this type of honor,” Wendell Scott Foundation CEO Warrick Scott told the Chatham Star Tribune after the item honoring his grandfather was approved. “It is a huge step in crystallizing my grandfather’s legacy and making him available for the masses.”

Scott, who died Dec. 23, 1990 at 69, was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015. He made 495 Cup starts. In addition to his win, he earned 20 top fives and 147 top 10s.

Danville had previously named a street after Scott.

Former NASCAR driver James Hylton, son killed in auto accident

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — James Hylton, the 1966 Cup rookie of the year, and his son were killed in an auto accident in Georgia, NASCAR confirmed Saturday afternoon.

Hylton was 83. His son James Harvey Hylton Jr. also was killed in the accident on I-85 in Franklin County, Georgia. No other details were available. Georgia State Patrol declined to provide details to NBC Sports about the incident, stating a report would be available Monday.

The Roanoke Times reported that Hylton and his son and crew chief Terry Strange were traveling back to South Carolina after Friday’s ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway when the accident happened around 6 a.m. Saturday, according to Hylton’s ex-wife Evelyn Hylton.

MORE: Racing community reacts to death of James Hylton

She told The Roanoke Times that a police officer came to her door Saturday morning and informed her what happened.

“[The officer] said Terry … told them that he thought James was having a heart attack and he looked over at him and lost control of the truck and went across the median and then across the other lane of traffic and hit an embankment,” Evelyn Hylton said in a phone interview with The Roanoke Times. “The truck, towing a big trailer with a race car on it, thousands of pounds, you have to be really careful.”

NASCAR and ARCA issued a statement on Hylton’s death.

“Racing competitively in parts of six decades, James Hylton’s dedication, passion and longevity in motorsports is virtually unmatched. Hylton won the rookie of the year at NASCAR’s highest level, the 1972 race at Talladega Superspeedway and regularly contended for championships during the early years of his career. His racing influence continued into the ARCA series, where he competed as a driver and, most recently, a car owner. We have lost a truly special member of the racing family and a beloved figure among generations of competitors and race fans alike. We extend our deepest condolences to the Hylton family on the tragic loss of James Hylton and his son James Jr.”

Hylton was born on his family’s Virginia farm in 1934 and learned to drive on his father’s Ford Model T. During his motorsports career, he worked as a mechanic for NASCAR Hall of Famer Rex White and as a crew chief for Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett before becoming a driver.

Hylton, an independent driver, won two Cup races in 602 career starts. He won at Richmond in 1970 and at Talladega in 1972. He last drove in a Cup race in 1993 at Darlington Raceway. Hylton finished second in points in 1966, ’67 and ’71.

He made his NASCAR Premier Series debut in the 1964 Old Dominion 400 at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia. Hylton finished 19th in a 20-car field. Jarrett won that race and was among four NASCAR Hall of Famers in that race (David Pearson was second, Richard Petty was eighth and Wendell Scott was 18th).

Hylton made his first start in ARCA in 1986 and climbed out of the car for the final time in that series in 2013 after running the entire schedule. He competed in 175 ARCA races with a best finish of 14th three times. Hylton was a car owner in ARCA. Brad Smith finished 31st in Friday’s ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.

 

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