If Nascar hadn’t been so keen to take the path of least resistance in the past, its only black driver would never have been forced down his hard road
Last Sunday, during a lull in an otherwise raucous Father’s Day celebration with family at his Danville, Virginia, home, Warrick Scott couldn’t help but think of the man who had set up this scene. As rain fell on Alabama and ultimately postponed the Nascar Cup race playing on TV in the background, Scott reached for a biography titled Hard Driving – an unvarnished account of the unrelenting racial prejudice his grandfather, the late Wendell Scott, suffered as the lone black driver competing at the highest levels of stock car racing in the 1960s and 70s.
With Talladega Superspeedway serving as the setting for Sunday’s race, Warrick jumped straight to the sections about Wendell’s own fraught history at Nascar’s fastest oval, lingered on the photo of his grandfather reluctantly shaking hands with Alabama’s segregationist governor George Wallace before a 1973 race, and glowered. “At some point,” mused Warrick, the CEO of an educational non-profit named for his grandfather, “someone’s gonna post that picture as a way to soften the ass kicking that white supremacists are getting right now.”