In 1963, race car driver Wendell Scott was the first Black driver win a NASCAR Grand National Series race. Now, 58 years later, he’s still the only African-American driver to win at NASCAR’s highest level, and his family finally has been presented with the trophy Scott should have gotten nearly six decades ago.
When the Jacksonville 200 race concluded on Dec. 1, 1963, it was Buck Baker that was at first deemed the winner that day on the Speedway Park half-mile dirt track in Jacksonville, Florida. But it was later discovered after Scott asked the officials to check the handwritten scorecards that he had in fact won the race two laps sooner at end of the 200th lap, and the race had gone two extra laps before Baker wrongly got the checkered flag as the winner. Scott’s win wasn’t announced until two hours later, but by that time the trophy and Baker were gone, although the Black driver did get the $1,000 victory check.
Since then his family has pleaded with NASCAR to commemorate his legacy with the proper trophy, and that day has finally come. On Aug. 28 before the Coke Zero 400 race at the Daytona International Speedway began, NASCAR presented Scott’s family with the trophy for his 1963 victory.
Frank Scott, who is Scott’s son, said as he accepted the trophy on behalf of his father, “It is an honor and a privilege to be here this weekend for this historical moment in time. I grew up at Daytona as a child and came here throughout my father’s racing career. It’s good to be back at this historic place.”
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, who is currently the only African-American at the top level of stock car racing, made an appearance not only because he was racing but also to stand beside the Scotts as they were awarded. Frank Scott took the time to acknowledged Wallace in his speech as well.
He said, “My father would be most proud of what Bubba has accomplished. My father said, ‘You have to cut your roots first,’ and Bubba has done that. He started in the lower divisions and worked his way up.”
Scott is still the only Black driver to win a NASCAR race at the elite level. Although he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Scott was unfortunately no longer living to see his trailblazing accomplishments be acknowledged. In 1990, he lost his battle to spinal cancer, just 17 years after retiring from racing.