Tag: Wendell Scott

SPORTS: Meet Tia Norfleet, the 1st Black Female NASCAR Driver

Tia-Norfleet

article by Da’ryl Victoria via thesource.com

When we think of women in NASCAR we often think of internationally celebrated Danica Patrick, however there’s one woman in particular we should be paying more attention to. Meet Tia Norfleet, the first African-American female NASCAR driver and daughter of legendary NASCAR driver Bobby Norfleet.

The adrenaline and skill of driving at high speeds resides in the bloodline of the Norfleet family, and the love and passion for the sport has been held by Tia since age seven. Having a Hot Wheels Barbie car was a top priority for millions of young girls in the early 90s, but Norfleet’s car would trump others when Mr. Norfleet doubled the battery power of her Barbie Corvette.

Barely a teen, and roughly 10 years removed from the legal age to drive, Bobby Norfleet handed his pre-teen daughter the keys to their family mini-van, knowing she could handle the road alone. At nine years old Tia, now a semi-pro behind the wheel, embarked on daily trips to karate practice, convenient stores, and traveling around her neighborhood in preparation of becoming one out of a handful of women in a high speed and dangerous male dominated sport.

At age 14, Norfleet began competing on a local and regional level in kart racing, leading into a successful drag racing career resulting in top rank stats: winning 37 out of 52 events. In 2000, she switched her focus, setting her sights on dominating the track in entry level spec racing, competing in Bandolero cars. Eventually in 2004, Norfleet would move on to late model stock car racing on short tracks, later becoming the first African-American to obtain a NASCAR late model series racing license. Continue reading “SPORTS: Meet Tia Norfleet, the 1st Black Female NASCAR Driver”

African-American Racer Wendell Scott Officially Inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame Tonight

Wendell Scott
NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott

Announced last May, the news finally became official: as of tonight, African-American race car driver Wendell Scott is the first black man inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Scott drove during the Jim Crow era, and he was the first African-American to win a race at NASCAR’s elite major league level. He died in 1990.  His career began in 1952, and his racing team was his family. They would travel to races together from their home in Virginia, and his sons served as his pit crew.

Wendell Scott's son Frank Scott (left) and grandson Warrick Scott at StoryCorps in Danville, Va. Wendell Scott, who died in 1990, was one of the first African-American NASCAR drivers to win a race at the elite level.
Wendell Scott’s son Frank Scott (left) and grandson Warrick Scott at StoryCorps in Danville, Va. Wendell Scott, who died in 1990, was one of the first African-American NASCAR drivers to win a race at the elite level.

“It was like Picasso, like a great artist doing his work,” says Scott’s son, Frank, 67, at StoryCorps. “And he was in that car, he was doing his work. And as children we didn’t have that leisure time, you know, we couldn’t go to the playground. He said to us, ‘I need you at the garage.’ I can remember him getting injured, and he’d just take axle grease and put it in the cut and keep working.”

But Scott wasn’t allowed to race at certain speedways. When he planned to go to Atlanta, he even received death threats.

“Daddy said, ‘Look, if I leave in a pine box, that’s what I gotta do. But I’m gonna race,’ ” Frank says. “I can remember him racing in Jacksonville, and he beat them all, but they wouldn’t drop the checkered flag. And then when they did, they had my father in third place. One of the main reasons that they gave was there was a white beauty queen, and they always kissed the driver.”

“Did he ever consider not racing anymore?” asks Scott’s grandson, Warrick, 37.

“Never,” Frank says. “That was one of my daddy’s sayings: ‘When it’s too tough for everybody else, it’s just right for me.’ ”

Before the Atlanta 500 in 1964, Scott was sick and needed an operation, but he refused not to race.

“And so, I said, ‘Daddy, we don’t have to race,’ ” Frank says. “He whispered to me and said, ‘Lift my legs up and put me in the car.’ So, I took my arms and put them behind his legs and kind of acted like I was hugging him and helped him into the car. He drove 500 miles that day.”

Wendell Scott (right) and his son Frank in Darlington, S.C., in 1970. Wendell Scott becomes the first African-American driver inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday.
Wendell Scott (right) and his son Frank in Darlington, S.C., in 1970. Wendell Scott becomes the first African-American driver inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday. (Courtesy of the Scott family)

“How did his racing career officially end?” Warrick asks.

Scott’s career ended only because he couldn’t afford to race anymore. No one would financially support his career.

“Where other drivers that we were competing against had major sponsorships, providing them engineers, as many cars as they needed,” Frank says, “he did everything that he did out of his own pocket.

“He always felt like someday he’s going to get his big break,” Frank adds. “But for 20 years nobody mentioned Wendell Scott. At one point it was like he never existed. But he didn’t let it drive him crazy. I think that’s what made him so great. He chose to be a race car driver, and he was going to race until he couldn’t race no more.”

Produced for Morning Edition by Jud Esty-Kendall and John White.  To hear audio of this story, click through to npr.org.

Wendell Scott Becomes 1st Black Man Inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame

Wendell Scott

Nearly 25 years after his passing, Wendell Scott, the first African-American driver to secure a victory at NASCAR’s top level, continues to make history.  His legendary career includes a historic premier series victory, championships, and more than 100 wins in NASCAR’s regional level divisions. This week, he reached the sport’s pinnacle and became a NASCAR Hall of Famer.

Scott, one of NASCAR’s true trailblazers, became the first African American elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Wednesday when the 2015 class was announced in a special unveiling at the hall in Charlotte, North Carolina. Accompanying Scott in NASCAR’s sixth class are Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Joe Weatherly and Rex White all of whom will be officially enshrined on January 30, 2015 at the Charlotte Convention Center.

“This is a proud day for NASCAR and one of the most significant days in the history of our sport,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “We are honored to announce Wendell Scott is a member of our 2015 class of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees. “Wendell had plenty of success in our premier series but his contributions, of course, transcended any results on the race track.”

“His importance to our sport grows daily. At NASCAR, we are reminded of that importance with every advancement we make when it comes to diversity and inclusion. All of that can be linked to Wendell Scott. Congratulations go out to the entire Scott family, especially his wife Mary and his children. Wendell is where he belongs, where he has always belonged – in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”

Scott, a skilled mechanic and self-sufficient driver on the race track, looked past the racial prejudice that was widespread during the 1950s and 1960s to pursue his love for racing. Continue reading “Wendell Scott Becomes 1st Black Man Inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame”

Darrell Wallace is 1st African-American to Win NASCAR National Race in 50 Years

Darrell Wallace Jr. celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 on Saturday, October 26.
Darrell Wallace Jr. celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 on Saturday, October 26.

(CNN) — It’s one win for Darrell Wallace Jr., but what will it mean for other African-American race car drivers — present and future?  The answer to that question might not come for years. Nonetheless, NASCAR wasted no time Saturday in hailing Wallace’s on-track success at Martinsville Speedway in southern Virginia.

“We congratulate Darrell Wallace Jr. on his first national series victory, one that will be remembered as a remarkable moment in our sport’s history,” said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France.  Wallace took the Kroger 200 on the racing circuit’s Camping World Truck Series, which is on NASCAR’s third tier.

Still, it is notable given that no African-American has won any NASCAR national series race since December 1, 1963, when Wendell Scott became the first ever to win a race at NASCAR’s top level, in a victory at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida.  Scott, a Virginia native who served in the Army during World War II, raced in more than 500 races during his career — finishing in the top five 20 times, though that would be his only victory.

Plus, the 20-year-old Wallace isn’t just any driver. He’s a highly touted graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity, having been featured in numerous local and national publications.  The Mobile, Alabama, native — who lives in Concord, North Carolina — won in his 19th start on Camping World Truck circuit. In 10 of his first 18 starts, he finished in the top 10.  Shortly after the Martinsville race ended, Wallace — using his twitter handle @BubbaWallace — reveled in the victory.

He wrote: “We Came. We Saw. We Conquered.”

article by Greg Botelho via cnn.com