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NASCAR Honors First African-American Driver To Win A Premier Series Race

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By Paul Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2013) – The Commonwealth of Virginia honored NASCAR diversity trailblazer Wendell Scott with a historical highway marker in his hometown of Danville, Va., to celebrate his legacy as the first African-American to win a race in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR over his 13-year career at NASCAR’s top level that included 20 top-five and 147 top-ten finishes in 495 starts.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is deep with NASCAR heritage and support,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “Wendell Scott is very much a part of NASCAR’s and Virginia’s history. We join others in thanking the Commonwealth of Virginia for the honor they are bestowing on Mr. Scott, one that is well deserved. The Scott family has been instrumental to NASCAR as we developed our multicultural efforts, and it was Wendell Scott who served as such an inspiration to us all.”

During the ceremony, Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders declared April 5, 2013 as Wendell Scott Day and his restored No. 11 race car was displayed along with cars exhibited by Occoneechee Historic Speedway Group, Early Dirt Racers of Virginia and North Carolina and the Old Timers Racing Club.

Aside from Helton and Saunders; other speakers included: Earl Reynolds, Danville director of community development; Sarah Latham, president of the Danville Historical Society; Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Department of Historic Resources; and Wendell Scott, Jr.

“Our father was a proud Virginian, so this honor from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources is very humbling,” said Sybil Scott, daughter of the late Scott. “We believe daddy is with us in spirit, smiling on his friends, peers, family and especially his fans and our mother who are witnessing the fruits of his labor. The historic marker stands tall and today’s representation by local, state and NASCAR officials assure that his struggles against the odds, but more importantly, his accomplishments are undeniable.”

Scott, who officially retired from racing in 1973 and passed away in 1990, enjoyed a prolific career that spanned well beyond NASCAR’s premier series. In 1959, he won both the NASCAR Sportsman Division Virginia championship and the Sportsman Division championship at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va. In 1957, Scott finished third in the Virginia standings behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. Since his retirement, he has been inducted into 13 halls of fame, including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Last year, Scott was among the 25 nominees up for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

During his career, Scott blazed a trail of diversity that extends to today’s NASCAR. This season, NASCAR is home to several diverse and female drivers in its three national series, including Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo Montoya, Aric Almirola, Nelson Piquet, Jr., Kyle Larson, Miguel Paludo, Johanna Long, Juan Carlos Blum, German Quiroga and Darrell Wallace, Jr.

“The story of Wendell Scott reminds us all of what gritty determination and eyes-on-the-prize perseverance can accomplish,” said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. “I applaud Danville for working with the Commonwealth in recognizing Scott’s singular achievements. I am also grateful to NASCAR for celebrating Scott’s legacy this weekend in Danville and at the Martinsville Speedway, a remaining original NASCAR track, and bringing the story of Scott and Virginia’s motorsports legacy to the nation and racing fans around the world.”

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.

The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be The STP Gas Booster 500 on April 7 at 1 p.m. ET. It will air on FOX, FOX Deportes, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Radio with additional coverage on NASCAR.COM.

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