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What I Learned – Wendell Scott becomes first African-American driver elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame

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Racecar driver Wendell Scott helped break the color barrier throughout his career. On May 21, 2014, his accomplishments were recognized as he became the first African-American driver elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Scott, who was posthumously inducted, joined Bill Elliott, Joe Weatherly, Rex White and Fred Lorenzen as part of the 2015 Hall of Fame class. He was previously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.“The legacy of Wendell Scott depicts him as one of the great vanguards of the sport of NASCAR racing,” Scott’s son, Franklin, said, who accepted the induction on his behalf. “Daddy was a man of great honor. He didn’t let his circumstances define who he was.”Scott became the first African-American full-time driver in NASCAR history when he attained a license in 1953. As a 39-year-old, Scott went on to make his debut in the Grand National Series on March 4, 1961.In 1963, Scott became the first African American to win a race at NASCAR’s premier level after he took the top spot in a Grand National Series race in Jacksonville, Fla. Scott spent 13 years in the NASCAR Cup Series, during which he participated in 495 races. His final race occurred in 1973 in the Nashville 500. During Scott’s time, he recorded one win, 20 top-five finishes and 147 top-ten finishes. He remains the only African-American driver to win in NASCAR’s top series.While Scott was honored with his Hall of Fame election, his journey with NASCAR was not an easy one. He was forced to miss many events due to prejudice from top-level NASCAR officials. He was also nearly snubbed in his lone career victory. Despite experiencing discrimination, death threats and financial hardships throughout his career, Scott still made his mark on the sport. Before NASCAR, Scott, a Virginia native learned to be an auto-mechanic from his father and opened his own shop after serving in World War II. He also attained a license after he persuaded a NASCAR official to grant him a license.Scott’s racing career ended in 1973 due to injuries suffered in a 24-car crash. He died on Dec. 23, 1990 at age 69 after suffering from spinal cancer.

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