Bubba Wallace said he’s honored and proud to represent the Wendell Scott Foundation in Sunday’s race. The 27-year-old has said that Scott blazed a path for Black drivers, and he owes a lot to the NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Wallace retweeted a video from Root Insurance, Wallace’s main sponsor, that features Wendell Scott’s son and grandson. In it, they discuss Scott’s legacy and the mission of the Wendell Scott Foundation.
“The Wendell Scott Foundation started to honor the legacy of my grandparents, Wendell Scott and Mary Scott,” Warrick Scott says in the video. “We wanted to always reach out and identify that were at risk and at need.”
The foundation focuses on STEM education and steering kids to careers in engineering and science. Wendell Scott, despite having a limited education, was his own mechanic. He learned the trade from his father and serving in World War II.
Who Was Scott and Why is Wallace Honoring Him?
Wendell Scott was born in Danville, Virginia, in 1921. But even from an early age he loved going fast, his NASCAR Hall of Fame page says. He started on roller skates and to moved to cars after serving as a driver and mechanic in World War II.
His first race was in 1952, and after that he was hooked.
“Once I found out what it was like, racing was all I wanted to do as long as I could make a decent living out of it,” Scott would later say. “.… I’m no different from most other people who’re doing what they like to do.”
But he struggled to find work because of his race. Often, he was told he couldn’t race at a particular track because he was Black. Once, in High Point, N.C., he was told that he could enter, but a white man would have to drive his car.
“I told ’em weren’t no damn white boy going to drive my car,” he said.
But after continuously proving himself at smaller tracks as a driver and mechanic, and was eventually allowed into NASCAR. He ran on a small budget, using family and friends as his pit crews. Though, he would occasionally receive help from Richard Petty and Ned Jarrett. Petty would go on to hire Bubba Wallace as a driver decades later.
Scott’s legacy is that of perseverance, tenacity, and a love of the sport despite its feelings for him. He is the only Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race and the only Black driver in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Wendell Scott died in 1990. He was 69.