Wendell Scott, who broke stock-car racing’s color barrier and became the subject of a Hollywood movie, is dead at the age of 69.
Scott, who was diagnosed in June as having spinal cancer, died Saturday at a local hospital. He had been hospitalized since July 28, when he was admitted to treat bilateral pneumonia, high blood pressure and kidney ailments along with the cancer.
Actor Richard Pryor played Scott in the 1977 film “Greased Lightning.” The movie focused on Scott’s racing career, which began in 1949 when the owner of a Danville race track, seeking to boost attendance, went to the police station looking for names of blacks with speeding records. Police gave the owner Scott’s name.
Scott, who owned a Danville garage, competed in more than 500 Grand National races. He won two poles, finished in the top five 20 times and in the top 10 on 147 occasions. He retired from full-time racing in 1973.