Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing's African-American Champion

Overview

Wendell O. Scott made history as the only black driver to win a race in a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division. Born in Danville, Virginia, he scrimped and saved to buy his first car, a Model T, at age fourteen. Although he “loved to turn the wheel of a racecar, work magic on an engine, and then push it faster than it was ever meant to go,” he never had the resources or sponsorship to buy a brand-new racecar. Using secondhand Fords that he fixed up in his garage, he competed in five hundred races in ...

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Overview

Wendell O. Scott made history as the only black driver to win a race in a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division. Born in Danville, Virginia, he scrimped and saved to buy his first car, a Model T, at age fourteen. Although he “loved to turn the wheel of a racecar, work magic on an engine, and then push it faster than it was ever meant to go,” he never had the resources or sponsorship to buy a brand-new racecar. Using secondhand Fords that he fixed up in his garage, he competed in five hundred races in NASCAR’s top division. Eric Velasquez’s illustrations and Carole Boston Weatherford’s rhythmic text illuminate the story of a man who worked full-time while racing on the side. A man who married, raised six children, and educated all of them. A man who “didn’t just dust the competition, he blazed a trail.” A man who raced against all odds. An Author’s Note is also included.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this stirring biography of Scott, the only black race car driver to win a NASCAR race, Velasquez’s expressive pastels showcase the driver’s determination and resourcefulness as he “quit school and drove a cab to put his sister through college.” After serving in WWII, Scott started a family and “to make ends meet... ran moonshine,” but never lost his love for cars, soon turning to racing. Even when, in 1963, Scott was denied recognition for his NASCAR win because of his race, his conviction didn’t waver. With as much attention paid to Scott’s life off the track as on, readers won’t need to be racing fans to be drawn in. Ages 7–11. (Oct.)
Booklist
Weatherford presents a profile of Wendell O. Scott, the first and (so far) only African American to win a NASCAR race, as an all-too-typical tale of pervasive racial discrimination and harassment overcome by quiet, stubborn endurance. She makes it clear, though, that he hung in there and spent most of his life with 'one pocket nearly broke, the other pocket full of dreams,' not to break down racial barriers but simply for love of the sport during his long career, which ended in 1973. Though generic faces and static compositions give the art a staid look, Weatherford's lively writing animates this unique profile and introduces a groundbreaker whose achievements, like those of competitive bicyclist Major Taylor, have fallen into unjust obscurity. An afterword fleshes out the history.
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
"Wendell Scott was in a hurry from day one," the text of this engaging picture book biography begins. Scott drove his mama on errands before he had a driver's license, bought his first car at age fourteen for fifteen dollars, collected plenty of speeding tickets, and began auto racing the minute a race promoter offered him the chance—even though it was a chance to let white drivers try to run him off the track. H ow else could Scott achieve his dream of racing at the Grand National competition "with hand-me down cars, a hauler converted from an old tire truck, and no big-money backers?" The story of Scott's ultimate triumph as the first black driver ever to win a NASCAR race is bittersweet: he was first denied his title because of racism and then received only "pitiful" recognition for "the biggest win of his career." Still, it is a story supremely worth telling, vividly presented by Weatherford, with energetic illustrations by Velasquez in a wide horizontal format that captures the joy of racing and of one brave, passionate man's pioneering achievement. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Born in 1921, in segregated Virginia, African-American Wendell Scott was a far cry from the typical competitor in the then all-white sport of stock car racing. Weatherford's understated, cadenced text and Velasquez's soft pastels follow his entrepreneurial fascination with cars and racing and show how this once-moonshine-running racer's speed gained him a slim toehold in a career that included winning a championship NASCAR race. (That 1963 win was bittersweet—Scott came in first, but a white driver was declared the winner and awarded the trophy.) The simple text is enriched by a biographical note from the author. Heavily pictorial, this slim picture-book biography will add a welcome dimension to sports collections.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
"Wendell Scott was in a hurry from day one." Having earned enough ("fifteen bucks") to buy a Model T Ford at the age of 14, he went on to drive a cab (and collect a prodigious number of speeding tickets), operate a garage and run moonshine. "So when a race promoter wanted a black driver, the police said, ‘Scott's your man. Ain't nobody faster.' " Weatherford develops her character neatly and with conviction, hitting hard at his seemingly unquenchable enthusiasm for speed and his resilience in the face of enduring racism. Readers will feel her anger and his when, after becoming the first (and only) African American to win a NASCAR race, he had to watch blatantly biased judges award the trophy to a white man (they recanted later, giving him a replacement, "a wooden piece of junk," a month later). Velasquez's typically heroic pastels depict the smiling white driver mugging for the camera while a furious Scott looms outside the frame. Although the prose is less poetic than others of the author's works, it retains a gritty vitality appropriate to the subject. Eye-opening, exhilarating and inspiring. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761454656
  • Publisher: Amazon Childrens Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 904,130
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.70 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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