The annual NASCAR Hall of Fame nominations are in. Notable drivers such as Rusty Baker, Herb Thomas and Bick Baker were among the names to be honored at the 2013 induction ceremony. This year, as in years past, there is one notable name missing — Wendell Scott, the first black driver to win a race, wasn’t nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame. Although Scott was third in the fan voting on NASCAR.com, he was not listed among those getting votes among the Voting Pane. Among the 25 names nominated Scott’s name wasn’t among the 5 who made the cut.
On December 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla., Scott became the first, and to date the only, African-American driver to win a NASCAR race. Scott rose up in the NASCAR ranks in the late 1950s, in an era rife with racial tension where trailblazers like Scott faced difficult challenges making their way in professions that had seen few to no black faces in the professional world. Scott earned four top-ten finishes in 1961 and would go on to have a very successful career on the raceway. In his 495 races, Scott compiled 1 win, 20 top-5 finishes and 147 top-10s.
The question remains: will Scott ever be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame? In the past decade, we have seen more people of color on the tracks and in the stands joining millions of people who are die hard NASCAR fans. Actually, NASCAR itself has seen its fair share of black drivers on the tracks. On July 31, 1955, Elias Bowie took the green flag in the Grand National race at Bay Meadows Speedway. Bill Lester, Willie T. Ribbs and others have all found some success of the speedways of the NASCAR circuit, and it seems fans are ready to see a person of color in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So why aren’t members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel following suit?
There is no denying that NASCAR recognizes Scott’s contributions to the sport. Currently, he is the only NASCAR driver that is recognized every year by NASCAR. NASCAR also awards twelve Wendell Scott scholarships per year to historically black colleges. Nevertheless, until Scott joins the ranks of Hall of Famers, fans will have to wait to see his name enshrined in Charlotte.
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