Fifty-eight years is a long time to wait for anything, but the family of Wendell Scott—the first Black man to win a race at NASCAR’s highest level—waited exactly that long to finally receive the trophy for his historic win back in 1963.
How in the hell did this happen? I’m glad you asked.
Scott passed Richard Petty with 25 laps remaining at Speedway Park in Jacksonville on Dec. 1, 1963, in the Jacksonville 200.
Buck Baker, who actually finished second, was declared the winner and received the trophy in a Victory Lane celebration. Race officials discovered hours after the race that Scott was the actual winner by a full two laps on the rest of the field. But he was not credited with the victory for another two years and his family has long pushed for a proper celebration.
Sadly, Scott never received the trophy following his win, as it was nowhere to be found by the time he was officially declared the winner hours after the race. The search has continued in the decades since, even though Scott succumbed to spinal cancer in 1990.
But after years of desperation, Scott’s family finally received what was rightfully theirs this past weekend at the Daytona International Speedway. In front of thousands of NASCAR fans, they were presented with a trophy commemorating Scott’s win.
Despite being forced to retire in 1973 after suffering injuries in a crash at Talladega Superspeedway, Scott still remains the only Black driver to ever win at NASCAR’s elite Cup level. In 2015, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and two years prior, he was celebrated for “preserving over prejudice and discrimination,” as well as “breaking racial barriers in NASCAR” when he was awarded a historical marker by his hometown of Danville, Va. Throughout the course of his 13-year racing career, Scott finished within the top-five 20 times and it’s clear that his impact on the sport is still felt to this day.