Wendell Scott’s 1962 Chevrolet
by Tom Jensen August 23, 2021
NASCAR pioneer Wendell Scott built a replica of his 1962 Chevrolet stock car for “Greased Lightning,” a film loosely based on his Hall of Fame career.
August 29th would have been the 100th birthday for NASCAR pioneer and Hall of Famer Wendell Scott (2015), the first Black driver to win a NASCAR race.
A native of Danville, Virginia, Scott was a dedicated family man who wore many hats in his lifetime. After serving as a mechanic in the U.S. Army during World War II, Scott returned home to Danville, where he worked as a taxi driver and moonshine runner as well as running a garage.
Scott soon discovered he had a desire to race and the talent to succeed at it despite the myriad obstacles in his way in the segregated South of the late 1950s and early 60s.
On December 1, 1963, Scott drove a year-old Chevrolet to victory in the Jacksonville (Florida) 200 at Speedway Park, a 0.500-mile dirt track. There, Scott defeated a 22-car field that included five other Hall of Fame drivers to win the first-place prize of $1,000.
Scott would go on to post 20 top-five and 147 top-10 race finishes in a 13-year career in the premier series. Using mostly used cars and parts and his family as his only crew, Scott finished in the top 15 points eight years in a row, including four consecutive top-10 points finishes from 1966-69.
In NASCAR, Scott was a driver, owner, crew chief, mechanic and occasionally even his own pit crew. What he achieved with the limited resources he had was indeed Hall of Fame worthy.
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, our current exhibit in the Great Hall is called, “A Legendary Decade: The First 50 Inductees.” The exhibit honors those inducted into the first 10 classes, from 2010-2019. Each class is represented by one car originally used in the Hall of Honor when that class was inducted.
In Scott’s case, the car used when he went in with the Class of 2015 and now in the Great Hall is a 1962 Chevrolet replica of the car Scott won with at Jacksonville in 1963. Not surprisingly, its front fenders read, “Mechanic: ‘Me,’” because Scott was indeed his own mechanic.
Scott built this car himself and it was the last one he constructed. The pristine Chevrolet was made for the 1977 film, “Greased Lightning,” which starred Richard Pryor playing the role of Wendell Scott. The film was loosely based on Scott’s life, although like most Hollywood production, it took some liberties – occasionally big ones – with historical accuracy.
Still, there’s no doubt that Scott’s life and career are worth documenting on film. Not to mention in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.