CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Wendell Scott earned a second NASCAR first on Wednesday: He became the first African-American driver to be elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The late driver from Virginia was among the latest group of five — all drivers, another first — voted in the hall on Wednesday. Scott joins popular NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, two-time series champ Joe Weatherly, 1960 champion Rex White and 26-time race winner Fred Lorenzen.
Scott competed in NASCAR's top series from 1961-73. He won his only race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1963, taking the checkered flag in the 100-mile feature after starting 15th. Scott started 495 Sprint Cup events and had a 147 top 10 finishes.
"I just felt like that his time was coming and he would say that too, one day it's going to happen," said Scott's son, Franklin.
When Scott's name was called there were enthusiastic shouts and applause from fans, officials and family members gathered at the NASCAR Hall of Fame rotunda. He was the second-leading vote getter behind Elliott from a 54-member panel, including current Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
Scott, who died in 1990, was the first African-American driver to race fulltime in NASCAR's top series. He had won more than 100 races at local tracks before stepping up to race against NASCAR's best. Among Scott's legacy to the sport is the sport's Drive for Diversity initiative, one of the top youth development programs for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsports industry that's been in place since 2004.
"The next inductee gives me additional pride," NASCAR chairman Brian France said in introducing Scott, "Because he undoubted scaled and climbed the highest mountain."
Scott's story was loosely portrayed in the 1977 movie, "Greased Lightning," where Richard Pryor starred as Scott, the one-time taxi driver from Danville, Virginia.
"He said one day they are going to write a book about me," Franklin Scott said of his father. "He had great determination. He was a great ambassador for the sport."
Elliott was the 1988 Sprint Cup champion and his 44 race victories rank 16th in NASCAR history. The driver nicknamed "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville" was also the first to win the Winston Million bonus in 1985 for capturing three of NASCAR crown jewel races.
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