A new state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to honor Wendell O. Scott, a Danville native who in 1963 became the first African American to win a race in what is now called the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be dedicated next month.
The April 5 public dedication and unveiling ceremony will begin at 12 noon at the marker’s location at 118 Wendell Scott Drive, in Danville. Speakers at the ceremony will include Mike Helton, president of NASCAR; Marcus Jadotte, vice president of public affairs and multicultural development for NASCAR; Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders; Earl Reynolds, director of community development for Danville; Sarah Latham, president of the Danville Historical Society, and Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Department of Historic Resources.
During the event, Mayor Saunders will present a proclamation to the Scott Family declaring April 5th as Wendell O. Scott Day.
Danville’s local American Legion auxiliaries will also participate in the ceremony, and Scott’s restored number 11 race car will be on display along with other cars exhibited by Occoneechee Historic Speedway Group, Early Dirt Racers of Virginia and North Carolina, and the Old Timers Racing Club. Musical contributions to open and close the ceremony will be provided by twins Vanessa Adams and Teressa Smith of Danville.
Scott lived in Danville in a “house he built after his return from World War II,” according to the marker. “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,” the marker states.
Scott retired from racing in 1973 and died in 1990. He has been inducted into 13 halls of fame, including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,200 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority such as Danville.
Text of the marker:
Wendell O. Scott Sr. (1921-1990)
On 1 Dec. 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida, Wendell O. Scott Sr. became the first African American to win a NASCAR Grand National race. He lived here in the house he built after his return from World War II. 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 retired in 1973 after an injury suffered during a race in Talladega, Alabama. The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, among 13 halls of fame, has inducted him as a member.