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Wendell Scott - One And Only Grand National Win

Famous Sports StarsAuto RacingWendell Scott Biography - Learning How To Drive A Car, Facing Down Racism, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, One And Only Grand National Win

One and Only Grand National Win

His greatest accomplishment came in 1963. Scott won his first and only Grand National race. Unfortunately, his victory was marred by tampering with the scoring that was most likely the result of racist intentions. The race wasn't an easy one for Scott to make. He was in debt and needed the money he could earn from this competition. He drove from Virginia to Jacksonville, Florida, to compete at the Jacksonville Speedway Park. Exhausted from the trip, Scott couldn't make the repairs he wanted on his car. Instead he removed the shock absorbers from each corner of the car. He told Edsall, "The track was so rough … but that way (single shocked) was just perfect. I lapped the field."

Scott started in fifteenth position and easily lapped all the other racers. He was coming up on his 200th lap, the final lap, and expected to see the checkered flag waving for his first place finish. The flag remained unmoved. Scott continued on for two more laps expecting the checkered flag to signal the end of the race and his victory. Instead, the flag waved for Buck Baker, who was two laps behind Scott. The judges awarded Scott third place.

The fanfare, including the trophy and a kiss from the beauty queen, all went to Buck Baker but Scott knew he had won and he argued his case with the judges. After the crowds had gone and the supposed clerical error corrected, Scott was awarded his prize money. Unfortunately, he did not receive the original trophy. Stories differ on what happened to the trophy. One story relates that it went home with Baker, another that the trophy was stolen. Whatever the case, Scott ended up with a wooden statue that does not contain any information about his placing, the date, or the race. He did however get the money. He told Edsall, "I needed $900-some dollars to pay my bills.… I got $1000 for winning … and $150 for racing on Goodyear tires. But I really didn't have Goodyears. I had recaps."

Scott continued racing for ten more years, ever hopeful that he would get a break. In 1966 he told Ebony, "I don't have too many wins in the Grand National … but I have a bunch of places and shows. With a little better equipment I know I can come out on top." Scott was always driving older model cars, often bought from other racecar drivers. It was never the car itself that helped Scott place, it was his skill as a driver and a mechanic.

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