Wendell Scott won his lone NASCAR sanctioned event way back on Dec. 1, 1964. That mark which was set nearly 50 years ago wasn’t just any victory. Back then, races were run all the time, so it was common for new drivers to get a chance to win races. However, Scott was the only African-American driver to win a NASCAR race.
Well, that all changed on Saturday afternoon.
Darrell Wallace Jr. re-broke the color barriers in NASCAR. Wallace Jr. didn’t have to go through all of the torture that Scott did, nor did he have to own his own team. However, the two have plenty in common as they each did things that not too many people thought they could do in a Caucasian-dominated sport.
Wallace’s victory represented more than just a win for a rookie driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He showed people that the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program isn’t just a way for young guys to get into the spotlight, but it actually works. Wallace became the second driver to win in one of NASCAR’s top-three divisions after being a success within the lower ranks of the sport.
Besides doing that, the importance of the victory sets standards for Wallace, as well as other young drivers. His victory at Martinsville proved that it doesn’t matter what a driver looks like. As long as a driver is talented and has the ability to win, he’ll do just that. The win also showed that African-American drivers won’t be forgotten in a sport that’s looking to become more diverse.
The diversity campaign in NASCAR hasn’t been too successful over the last few years. Though it enables young drivers to get involved in the sport, they haven’t been able to move up the ranks and win races. However, Wallace’s win gives those drivers a sense of confidence heading into the future.
Now, Wallace is going to be someone kids look up to. He, along with Ryan Gifford, are attempting to do something no driver in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity campaign has done before, and that’s to seriously contend for a championship. His win surely breaks the color barrier in NASCAR, as it brings satisfaction to a group of people who have worked extremely hard to be accepted in a sport that is known for giving chances to people that deserve it.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.