DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Wendell Scott’s grandson tiptoed, bent over and kissed the trophy that had been in the works for almost 60 years.
NASCAR presented Scott’s family with a personalized trophy commemorating his historic victory in 1963 ahead of Saturday’s Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Scott was the first and remains the only black driver to win a race at the highest level of NASCAR.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps presented the trophy to Scott’s son Frank Scott on stage after a pre-race concert and just before the driver presentations. Driver Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only full-time black driver, joined several of Scott’s family on stage for the ceremony.
As they started to leave the stage, Warrick Scott had the chance to pose with the trophy. Instead of holding it or hoisting it, he decided to kiss it. It was perhaps the most revealing scene of what it meant for the family.
Wendell Scott passed Richard Petty with 25 laps to go at Speedway Park in Jacksonville on December 1, 1963, in the Jacksonville 200. But Buck Baker, who actually finished second, was declared the winner and received the trophy in the way. victory.
Race officials found out a few hours later that Scott was the real winner and had ridden the entire field twice. But he wasn’t credited with the victory for two years, and his family have long been pushing for a proper celebration.
“It’s important because my dad won it and it was something he had to work on,” said Frank Scott. “He always wanted to get his trophy and he predicted he would get his trophy someday. He said, ‘I might not be here with all of you, but someday I’ll get my trophy.’ “
Scott retired with injuries sustained in a 1973 accident at Talladega Superspeedway, and the Danville, Va. Native died in 1990 from spinal cancer.
He was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015, two years after the city of Danville awarded Scott a Historic Marker. The statement on the marker praised Scott for “persevering against prejudice and discrimination, Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR”. In 13 years of career, Scott landed 20 top five.
NASCAR chose the regular season finale for the presentation because of its proximity to Jacksonville and because it comes a day before what would have been Scott’s 100th birthday.