In 1963, Wendell Scott won a NASCAR race in Jacksonville, Fla. He became the first and to this day only Black driver to win a race at NASCAR’s top level. But he never got the trophy from his win. In fact, he wasn’t even declared the winner immediately after the race.
White driver, Buck Baker, was originally declared the winner of that race and presented the trophy in victory lane. It was later that NASCAR officials realized they had made a scoring error, and this was only after Scott had asked for a review. Scorecards at the time were handwritten and “often subject to honest human error or outright cheating,” motorsports reporter Al Pearce wrote.
Scott at the time felt he was cheated because of his race. It remains unknown whether the error was intentional, but NASCAR officially recognized Scott’s victory in its record books, according to The Charlotte Observer. In 2015, Scott was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The former NASCAR driver and mechanic is also a member of about six other Hall of Fame classes. Still, he never received his NASCAR trophy until now.
On Saturday, NASCAR presented the Scott family with a trophy for his historic victory on December 1, 1963. The family received the trophy at a ceremony before the Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
“The trophy is a tangible artifact that naturally he earned,” Scott’s grandson, Warrick Scott, said. “But it is something that would be a point of inspiration for untold amounts of people going forward.”
During his NASCAR career, Scott competed in 495 Cup Series races and scored 147 top-10 finishes. He died in 1990. But before his death, he predicted that he would get his trophy one day, his family said.
“He said that, ‘I may not be here with y’all, but one day I’ll get my trophy,’” said Scott’s son, Frank Scott.
Frank believes the award ceremony on Saturday is an example of how NASCAR is working to embrace diversity. In 2020, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from racing events after Bubba Wallace, the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR’s national series, urged the association to do so.
“…I see the growth in NASCAR,” Frank said. “I see growth and diversity that didn’t used to exist, and I think this will lay a really solid foundation to build on.”