Source: Sybil Scott, Special to ThatsRacin.com
September 25, 2009
Editor's note: The following was written by Sybil Scott, a daughter of the late racer Wendell Scott. She directly addresses criticism of the nomination process as the NASCAR Hall of Fame prepares to select its first five inductees.
Like many NASCAR fans around the country, I’m looking forward to the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., next spring. I’m especially excited that my father, Wendell Scott Sr., will have a place in this spectacular new shrine to the sport he loved so much.
As a little girl growing up in Danville, Va., I remember standing in my father’s pit stall at clay tracks on the local Virginia circuit. I can recall watching him race at the bigger tracks hosting NASCAR races.
My father was inspired by his father’s mechanical skills and had been trained by the Army to be a mechanic and a paratrooper. His talent and skills with a wrench and fearless attitude behind the wheel would take him a long way in a sport that had yet to see an African-American driver compete at its top level. It afforded my sisters, sister-in-law, and other family and friends the enjoyable responsibility of scoring (recording) my father’s laps as he raced into history.
My father became known as “The Jackie Robinson of NASCAR” – the first black driver to win (in NASCAR's top series, now known as Sprint Cup). He competed in 506 races from 1961 to 1973, and in the second half of the 1960s, finished consistently in the top 10 in the NASCAR points standings.
My father had a great relationship with other drivers, including Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty, who would offer help with parts and other equipment. Many others also deserve credit for their friendship and countless deeds of assistance.
What’s remarkable about that respectable performance is my father did it without the backing of any big sponsors. He built and worked on his own cars, which were serviced by my brothers, other family members and friends in the pits.
He was famously competitive; some said the hardest worker in all of NASCAR. But just as important to my father as tuning his race car to run the fastest lap possible, was getting me and my six brothers and sisters to school on Monday. He and my mother always did.
My family was very proud of my father during his life. With each passing year following his death in 1990, Wendell Scott Sr.’s impact on each of us – and the sport – grows in magnitude. The Scott family is humbled with our place in NASCAR history, and very proud our father’s contributions will be recognized along with other racing pioneers.
My mother’s sentiments are as strong as a wife.
Despite some reports to the contrary, NASCAR fans should know that not only will my father be honored in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but that the Scott family has been included from the start. We were invited to attend the groundbreaking for the new facility in 2007.
We felt it was time for NASCAR to have its own Hall of Fame, and my mother, brother and I, along with other members of my family, were overjoyed to represent my father as the symbolic shovels entered the earth. We are aware of the nomination and induction process and have been in frequent contact with NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame and our family has been in frequent contact with each other.
NASCAR is a sport that’s been around for more than 60 years. There are numerous deserving drivers, team owners, promoters and NASCAR officials being considered for its inaugural Hall of Fame induction.Only five will be inducted each year.
We ask that my father’s fans understand he would want to be considered for the NASCAR Hall of Fame under the Hall’s set process, like all the other drivers.
It is important to my mother and our family that fans are not misled via a petition that is circulating in reference to my father and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We are grateful for the concern, support and response from fans and others, but would be remiss to advise that the petition is not necessary, nor is it supported by our family.
Every race car driver wants to be first. And when one’s career is over, every great driver wants to be considered for formal induction into the Hall of Fame. I’m confident in time my father will be inducted, too. Because to me, and so many others, he truly was among the best.
My father would want us to all peacefully enjoy a relationship with NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and through it all hopefully promote diversity and touch the lives of children through education, raising awareness, scholarships and his greater desire, which was to provide for orphanages. With that, from one of his biggest fans, please join me in realizing my father’s dream.
Sybil Scott, daughter of Wendell Scott Sr., lives in Danville, Va.