Read more: NASCAR honors Scott
Darrell Wallace Jr. wasn't familiar with the story of Wendell Scott when he began to pursue his driving career in NASCAR.
Today, as the Virginia Department of Historic Resources unveils a new state historical marker in Scott's hometown of Danville, Va., the 19-year-old Wallace has a much better understanding of Scott's accomplishments.
Scott, who died in 1990, is currently the only African-American driver to win at NASCAR's Cup level. In 1963, the independent Scott captured a 200-lap race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla.
In a career that spanned 13 seasons, Scott made 495 starts. From 1966 through 1969, he finished 10th or higher in the season-long points battle, cobbling together enough parts and pieces to compete against teams with many more resources.
Wallace, who is also African-American, worked his way through NASCAR's Drive For Diversity program to eventually land a ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series. He'll be making his second start in the series this weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, nearly three years after scoring his first career win in the K&N East Series at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway.
"I met his son, Wendell Jr., in either 2008 or '09 at Franklin County (Va.) Speedway when we were racing there," Wallace said. "He was just there as a spectator that night, but I remember he came down and talked to us."
With Revolution Racing in 2010, Wallace said, he got a chance to meet again with Scott Jr., as well as Sybil Scott, Wendell's daughter.
"And that's when I got to know the whole story, really started learning about it," he said. "It was cool; and then they did the movie deal on him. It was a neat, neat deal."
"Wendell Scott: A Race Story," a collaborative effort between NASCAR Media Group and ESPN, aired in 2011.
Scott was one of 25 nominees considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year.
"I think it's incredible that Wendell Scott is still being recognized to this day," Wallace said. "His legacy is still being carried on by friends, family and even drivers like myself.
"It's a huge honor to be one of the few drivers in the sport helping continue what he started."
In addition to the unveiling of the historic marker, April 5 has also been declared Wendell O. Scott Day by Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders.
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