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Wendell Scott becomes first black driver elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame

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Wendell Oliver Scott has become the first African-American race car driver to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, after be selected for the honor back in April 2012. He was previously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of fame in 1999, and was awarded with his own historical marker in his hometown of Danville, VA in January of last year. The statement on the marker will read, “Persevering over prejudice and discrimination, Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR, with a 13-year career that included 20 top five and 147 top ten finishes.” He won two championships in 1959, including the NASCAR championship title for drivers of sportsman-class stock cars in the state of Virginia, and the track championship in the sportsman class at Richmond's Southside Speedway.

Born August 29, 1921, Scott was the only African American driver to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series, after breaking the “color barrier” in Southern stock car racing on May 23, 1952, at the Danville Fairgrounds Speedway, according to his biography, "Hard Driving: The American Odyssey of NASCAR's First Black Driver," by Brian Donovan (Steerforth Press), which goes on to state that he became the first African-American to obtain a NASCAR racing license, apparently in 1953 (although NASCAR does not have the exact date.) It also relates how his career was plagued by racial prejudice and problems with top-level NASCAR officials. Yet, despite this, Scott’s determination won his respect and friends among fellow drivers as well as thousands of white fans.

Scott was forced to retire in 1973 after suffering injuries in a racing accident at Talladega. He later died from spinal cancer at the age of 69 on December 23, 1990 in the same town he was born.