NASCAR Hall of Famer's roots trace back to dirt quarter-mile, now in decay
Both drivers racing No. 34 special paint schemes this weekend at Martinsville RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Darrell Wallace Jr . and David Ragan unveiled special paint schemes several weeks back, giving a sneak peek at their tribute to future NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in this weekend's races. Friday at Martinsville Speedway , their matching powder-blue No. 34 designs first took to the track with an appropriate throwback touch. On the back of each vehicle was a nod to the do-it-yourself spirit that made Scott a racing pioneer -- plain script that said, "Mechanic: Me!" While both Ragan and Wallace have shown plenty of versatility in their driving careers, could the weekend feature a hands-on tribute to Scott's practice of changing his own tires in a pit stop? Wallace, for one, seemed willing to give it a shot. "I think our first pit stop today is just going to be me," Wallace said before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Kroger 200 . "They're just going to sit on the wall and eat ice cream -- I'm going to get out and change our tires for that stop. 'Mechanic, Me,' that's pretty cool to see that. I saw him ( Scott ) on TV pointing to it and I did the same thing so it's kind of cool to see that and see what they used to do back in the day and see how the sport has changed as a whole." Ragan, who has a mechanical bent as part of his racing background, agreed. "It's cool to embrace that," he said. "Obviously, we've got a lot of good employees that are going to be wrenching on our Front Row Motorsports car this weekend, so they probably won't let me touch it, but I grew up racing and working on my own race car, so I have an appreciation for what goes into building one of these cars and to know what Wendell was able to do with limited resources and probably a small crew back in the day, it makes you appreciate the accomplishments even more." Wallace landed his first Truck Series triumph at Martinsville last fall, becoming the first African-American winner in a NASCAR national division since Scott's lone premier series victory on Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida. Saturday, he was joined by Scott's descendants, who made the trip to lend their continued support from the driver's nearby hometown of Danville, Virginia. "As many times as they've texted me my phone bills have gone up," Wallace said of his communication and with the Scott family. "It's been really cool to have that relationship with the Scott family. I was doing appearances with them last week and really getting to know them just outside of racing and in school hearing all the stories about ( Wendell ) Senior and that's something cool. ... It's cool he keeps it interesting and he's always on me about being the best person I can and doing the right thing. It's always some help for sure." Wallace shifted from his customary No. 54 to honor this weekend's occasion and Scott's approaching induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For Ragan, the tribute didn't involve changing a car number. When Ragan scored a thrilling triumph at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring of 2013, it marked the first time since Scott's landmark win that the No. 34 had visited Victory Lane in NASCAR's top series, the scrappy Front Row team's win also resonating with Scott's underdog spirit. "As a driver you always pay attention to the car numbers that you have and you're always interested to go back and look at the history of those numbers," said Ragan, who joined the Bob Jenkins-owned team in 2012. "Throughout a career you don't often see one driver stay with one car number their entire career through the different divisions, so when I got in the number 34 you definitely look back and see who raced it and who won. That was one of the first things that crossed my mind when we were able to get that victory last season, the significance of it, and it was quite a big deal so it's definitely coming full circle here driving a tribute car for them here at Martinsville this weekend." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR, Front Row Motorsports, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Martinsville Speedway to pay tribute DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR, Front Row Motorsports, Kyle Busch Motorsports and Martinsville Speedway announced today they will honor 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott , the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR premier series event, with a series of tributes during the Martinsville race weekend from Oct. 24-26. Front Row Motorsports will pay homage to Scott , also the first African-American driver to race full-time in NASCAR’s premier series, with a full throwback paint scheme on its No. 34 Ford driven by David Ragan, reminiscent of the blue No. 34 that he drove to Victory Lane for his first NASCAR premier series victory at Jacksonville Speedway on Dec. 1, 1963. Ragan is one of just three drivers to win in the No. 34, and the first since Scott . "It's going to be cool to honor Wendell Scott at his home track with his family," said Ragan. "I got to drive a tribute scheme for Ned Jarrett a while back, and it's a tribute to the history of our sport that I get to honor Mr. Scott as an inductee, the last driver to win in the No. 34 before I did. I'm a fan of our sport’s history and have a real appreciation for it, so it's special to be able to bring that paint scheme back for a weekend." In addition, Kyle Busch Motorsports will change the number of Darrell Wallace Jr.'s truck from 54 to 34 in honor of Scott . A NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, Wallace became the first African-American to win a NASCAR national series race since Scott ’s historic 1963 triumph when he captured the checkered flag in last season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville. "It's an honor to run the No. 34 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville," said Wallace. "I got my first win at Martinsville and the historical significance of that win and to be so close to Wendell Scott's hometown was a really cool bonus to getting my first win. The Scott family has followed my career since I ran the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program for Rev Racing and I've kept a relationship with the family over the years. Thanks to Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota and NASCAR for allowing me to run the No. 34 at Martinsville. I'm pumped to get back there and hope to get another victory." Adding to the celebration, Martinsville Speedway and the NHOF will host members of the Scott family during the race weekend and offer special Q&A opportunities for fans on-site. " Wendell Scott faced numerous adversities throughout his racing career. At the end of the day though, he persevered and overcame all odds," said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway. "That perseverance serves as an inspiration today and as a testament to that, he was inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame." A trailblazer whose legacy extends to the present day, Scott was the 1959 NASCAR Virginia Sportsman champion and won over 100 races at local tracks prior to starting his NASCAR premier series career. The Danville, Virginia native served three years in the U.S. Army during World War II where he honed his skills in the motor pool. In 13 years of NASCAR premier series competition, Scott made 495 starts (35th on the all-time list), accumulating 20 top-five and 147 top-10 finishes. He passed away in 1990, at the age of 69. NASCAR currently awards scholarships in Scott ’s name through the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. The Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award is awarded to a diverse or female driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series who has demonstrated significant contributions on and off the track. Current NASCAR D4D driver and last year’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Nevada state champion Jay Beasley was the 2013 award recipient. In addition, NASCAR has designated the first race weekend in March as a time to remember Wendell Scott's legacy during a week that marks his first career start. Cars in all series run a decal in honor of his accomplishments within the sport. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody’s ® Headache Relief Shot ® 500 will run Sunday, Oct. 26 at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 will run Saturday, Oct. 25 at 1:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. Both races will also air on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with additional coverage on NASCAR.com. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished in the top 10 after a last-place effort last week. How'd he bounce back? Taylor Starer reports from Fontana. Plus, recap the Auto Club weekend in GIF form, and read a note on every driver in the 43-car field in The Rundown. TUESDAY: Kevin Harvick has eight consecutive finishes of second or better dating back to last season. No. 1 in the Power Rankings? For sure. But who's behind him in No. 2? Plus our weekly video of the best sounds from the scanner. WEDNESDAY: Check out the new paint schemes for this weekend's action at Martinsville Speedway . THURSDAY: Have you been bitten by the March Madness bug? Stay tuned as NASCAR.com presents its own version of March Madness, complete with fan voting. We'll be in the semifinal round Thursday. Zack Albert will write on Danville Speedway and its link to NASCAR and Wendell Scott , and @nascarcasm also chimes in on something historic -- the Martinsville hot dog. FRIDAY: Cars are on track in Martinsville. Visit us for live leaderboards throughout the day, plus the best tweets of the week. Also coming this week: Holly Cain previews Chase Elliott 's first scheduled Sprint Cup Series start ... How is Kurt Busch holding up after a near-miss at Fontana? Cain has that story, too ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce takes a deep dive on Martinsville, the original NASCAR facility.
Trailblazer becomes first African-American inducted into NASCAR Hall Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See the NASCAR Hall of Fame class by class CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wendell Scott often broadcast his do-it-yourself work ethic on his cars, which frequently sported hand-painted letters to read: "Mechanic: Me!" Though Scott's automotive know-how was largely self-made, he usually had an audience of his seven children watching, begging to help the family cause within their Danville, Virginia shop. Scott would often shoo his kids out, telling them to go play elsewhere. But for young Deborah Scott , she yearned to be in her father's racing shop just a little while longer. "I loved it when he would be on the creeper under the car working and he needed a tool," she recalled. "… It grew on me. I started liking to get dirty." Now married as Deborah Scott Davis, 64, she was part of a vocal contingent of friends and family with Danville ties witnessing her father's induction Friday evening as part of the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. On a night filled with stories pulled from NASCAR lore, Davis' remembrances from her youth stood out. As she joined her siblings to receive a proclamation from the town's mayor late Friday night, her brother Frank remarked that Davis deserved credit as likely the best mechanic of the bunch. His comment came without exaggeration -- Davis transferred a lifetime of automotive knowledge handed down from her father into a long career building cars for Ford Motor Company, first at an assembly plant in the Atlanta area and now near her Louisville, Kentucky home. Davis still has fond memories of those days growing up, watching her father do more with less. And like her father, who died in 1990, she shouldered many responsibilities for the family-run race team, helping as a mechanic's assistant, the team's scorekeeper and -- when she was old enough to get her driver's license -- a parts runner. Davis said some of the most gratifying help she offered the family racing effort was as the official scorekeeper, back in the old-school days before electronic timing and scoring was even a dream. Back then, one person with a score sheet was assigned to each car. Each score sheet had a number of small boxes for each lap, and the scorekeeper dutifully marked the time from the scorer's clock in each numbered box whenever their car came past. By Davis' estimation, she only missed one lap in her time as scorekeeper, which ended only when she left for college. That lap was early in the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , when a multi-car crash triggered a massive fire that eventually claimed the life of Fireball Roberts, a fellow member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Scoring Roberts' car that day was his daughter, Pamela, who Davis -- also a teenager at the time -- counted among her best friends. "We sat there and were watching our fathers, and her dad didn't come around," Davis recalled, "and we saw this black, rolling smoke behind us and when we turned back to look on the backstretch, I missed my dad going by. Her dad couldn't come by." Because events on the larger speedways of the era used backup scorers, Scott's missed lap was restored and he remained credited with a ninth-place finish. "I didn't cost him any positions or any money," Davis said, "but that was one of the incidents where I promised never, no matter what happened, I would keep my attention." MORE: Best photos from the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction " Scott among five inductees Davis said the children wouldn't travel to every race, mostly to those close enough to the family's home and on dates that wouldn't interfere with their school work. That's why, she said, none of them were present when Scott posted his only victory in NASCAR's top division on a school night -- Sunday, Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. "Of course, we all wish we had been," Davis said. "Of all the races, we weren't there." When Scott came home as a winner, he received a warm welcome. But the politics of the time wouldn't allow an African-American driver a celebration with the checkered flag or the trophy queen, tempering the family's excitement. Scott was eventually credited with completing 202 laps in the scheduled 200-lap race, but that achievement wasn't recognized on that Sunday night in Jacksonville. "Mixed emotions because here it was, he had won, but not in the right honorable way that he should've been able to celebrate because as you know, he knew he was winning the race," Davis said. "He knew when he took the lead and how many more laps there were to go and as history tells it now, correctly, yes, he did go two laps extra to win the race and still not receive the honor at that time." Race officials initially credited runner-up Buck Baker with the victory, claiming that a scoring error had taken place. If Davis had been there, she said, there would have been no dispute. "They couldn't have gotten around me," she said. "I really don't believe they could have gotten around me." Davis' expertise with a wrench extended beyond helping on the race car. Frank Scott recalled a trip to Michigan International Speedway in the 1960s, traveling with his father, his sister and brother Wendell Jr. -- four of them on the single bench seat -- when the truck hauling the race car broke down. Wendell Sr. and Jr. hitchhiked to the nearest township to get parts, leaving Frank and his sister to prepare the engine for the repairs. "Daddy said to have the motor torn down by the time he got back," Frank Scott said. "Deborah got up under the hood, and I was breaking the bolts to loosen them and she would take them out. She was like a little grease monkey, and that kind of led her into her adult life when she joined the automotive division working for Ford in Atlanta. Even right then, she started cutting her teeth. She had a mechanical instinct and didn't mind getting grease up under her nails." Friday night in Charlotte, the Scott family had the largest delegation of supporters of any of the five inductees, with Frank Scott estimating the number to be "in excess of 100" and from all over the country. For Deborah Scott Davis, the wait to hear her father's name called was a long time coming, but one made all the more satisfying because her mother, Mary, who could not attend the induction because of her health, was able to hear it as well. "Deservingly so," Davis said. "I think the time aspect, I think our friends and some of the fans didn't understand why he wouldn't be in the first class, the second class -- I'm OK with the timing of it. Just in the nick of time, I feel like, while our mom is still here. Couldn't have happened in a better year. "When the announcement was made, it just automatically lifted me out of the chair. Yes, finally -- whew! Years before, you can't be but so sad. At least he's nominated, at least he's getting closer and closer, and then it happened. It means so, so much."
Family and Friends gathered in Danville, Virginia to dedicate a highway marker and mural at the garage of the late Wendell Scott , NASCAR pioneer
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Wendell Scott
Wendell Scott ’s children, Franklin, Sybil and Wendell Scott Jr., express what it means to have their father inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Wendell Scott Jr. and Franklin Scott speak on behalf of their father Wendell Scott who became the first African American driver inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Limited on resources, Scott often served as driver, owner, crew chief and pit crew