NASCAR Media Conference
Wendell Scott, Jr.
Darrell Wallace, Jr.
October 27, 2013
DAVID HIGDON: Thanks for joining us this morning. A few special guests for us today. First, one of our rising stars of our sport who turned 20 this month, a member of the NASCAR Next program the previous two seasons, Toyota driver Darrell Wallace Jr. in the middle. Darrell broke on the NASCAR scene in 2010 when he became the first African‑American winner in the NASCAR K & N Pro Series with his victory at Greenville‑Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Driver for Rev Racing in the NASCAR Drive For Diversity program, Darrell proceeded to become the NASCAR K & N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year and finished second in championship points.
Last season at Dover, Wallace became the first African‑American driver to win the pole in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Darrell won the pole award for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Dover in May this year, making series history as the youngest winner of the award, a record he no longer has, now held by NASCAR Next driver Chase Elliott.
And yesterday of course Darrell drove to a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory lane here at Martinsville Speedway to become the first African‑American to win a national series race since NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Wendell Scott in 1963.
Darrell is joined today by members of Wendell Scott's family. To his right is Wendell Scott Jr., and to his left is Franklin Scott. The Scott family, as some of you know, has been instrumental in carrying on the legacy of their father, who passed away in 1990 at the age of 69.
Wendell Scott started racing in 1947 and won the NASCAR Sportsman Division Track Championship at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in the NASCAR Sportsman Division Virginia Championship. He competed in 495 races in NASCAR's premier division, now the Sprint Cup Series, from 1961 to 1973, and he recorded his historic win at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 1, 1963, almost literally 50 years ago from yesterday.
Franklin and Wendell Scott Jr. grew up working on their father's pit crew, and Wendell Jr. worked closely with the NASCAR Drive For Diversity in the program's formative years and even helped scout a 15‑year‑old driver named Darrell Wallace Jr. First, Wendell, appreciate you coming out here today, wearing your father's 34 cap, looks good, 34 shirt, too.
What was it you saw in Darrell the first time you saw him, and obviously your thoughts on his victory yesterday?
WENDELL SCOTT JR.: Good morning, everybody. In 2008 I was the mentor and technical advisor for the Drive For Diversity program. Long story short, this guy's story is going to get longer. But as a program mentor for the NASCAR Drive For Diversity program, I was sort of the pioneer and mentor for that program.
I got a memo from NASCAR from Marcus Jadotte, and asked me had I heard of Darrell Wallace Jr., and I had, but I hadn't really paid much attention because he was in another sanctioning body. So they asked me if I would scout him and do a report, so I did. I went to the track in Callaway, Virginia, and I didn't go over in the pits, I went in the stands. I was going to try to remain incognito, but I got so excited when I got there because everybody was talking about Darrell Wallace Jr. in the stands. He had already garnered fans.
So I knew the flagman from years ago, so I went down to the flag stand, and I said, when Darrell comes out to put the cars on the line, could you tell him I'd like to see him. And he did, and so we were sort of informed, but everybody was wondering what was going on, but he actually got out of the car and came up to the fence ‑ I'm an amputee so my mobility is a little challenged ‑ so he came up to meet me and I told him I was apprehensive about introducing myself to him before the race because I didn't want him to overcook it. So he said, I've got this, and so I believed him. He's very straightforward and talented.
So he qualified second that night in a 28‑ or 30‑car field on the outside, and he literally ran second place all night, finished second place while they were trying to put the bumper to him. So he had promised to come see me after the race, and he did. He kept his word. So we talked, but his age was a problem because he had to be 16 in Drive For Diversity. So we sort of didn't put him on the back burner but we just kind of kept an eye on him, and I got to be good friends with his wonderful mother and father, as well with Darrell.
We had a combine at South Boston Speedway in October, and he was just turning 15. Well, I was outgoing; I had decided I needed to leave the sport for personal family reasons, so I lost touch with Darrell for a minute. Next thing I knew, he was burning it up, and I was so proud, he felt like a son to me although I'm not much older than him. (Laughter.)
So he's won my heart, and yesterday‑‑ I'll skip to the chase. I need to go back to the Talladega race. It scared me to death at that race because I noticed he and Kyle both were favoring that chest. I sent him a text message, and I said, Darrell, let me ask you, you know I try to stay out of the way, but let me know. So he texted me back, oh, man, I'm doing fine, but thanks for asking, something like that. But I still believe he hurt something in there, as parents will do.
And then yesterday when he got‑‑ he survived the early melodrama of the race, and I said I'm getting to feel good about this because when we came up for the April race we went around his pit crew, his pit station, so I liked the way he handled the track. I liked his peripheral vision. Anyway, it's a lot of racing stuff. But I felt good about his performance in April.
So when he was running the race that he eventually won, my brother and I were texting back and forth, so we were saying, oh, Lord, watch so and so, watch so and so. He did a Kyle Busch restart. It was one of the most magnificent starts to win a race I've ever seen, and anybody that saw that race knows that this young man is only just begun.
So from Callaway, Virginia, way back over in the woods somewhere, none of us could probably get back there without GPS, but that's a great track, by the way, but to now, to right now, and what daddy would really want to happen, it's a miracle. But miracles only happen when you participate in miracles, and this is a miracle sitting here. So what more can I say?
DAVID HIGDON: Thank you, sir. Franklin, do you have anything to add on your feelings on yesterday's event?
FRANKLIN SCOTT: Well, when the checkered flag dropped, I heard a big boom from heaven, and my daddy said, "hell, yeah."
Really, we're just so proud of Darrell and his accomplishments. My brother worked more closely with him, but he told me about this young man, that he was up and coming, and that he had all the ingredients it would take to be a champion. So I followed him, as well, and we just couldn't‑‑ I find it so ironic that he would win this particular race in Martinsville, so close to Danville, because my father, he always drove‑‑ we raced here every year from when it was a dirt track all the way up until I went through his Sprint Cup career. I thought it was ironic and amazing that it happened here, and for the people to see and everybody in Danville, they're excited. The phones have been jumping off the hook from all over the country to us, and we just want to wish him continued success. We know he's going to do well, and we ask for the fans and the media to support him, allow time for his ups and downs, because you know, in racing they will come. But stick with him, and I've been an advocate for this particular situation ever since we've been involved in racing.
Wish him the best, and thank you all for your support.
Q. Darrell, when you won yesterday, did you feel like you won a race? Did you feel like you made history? Are you surprised by having the word historic thrown around so much around your victory?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah. I didn't know what the history remark was or anything. I just went out there and won the race, surprisingly, and finally we got us one. We had four races to go coming in. Like I said yesterday, I knew we were going to win, and we did. And then the remarks and stories and everything starts flowing in after about the history and the record set and Wendell Scott and all of it just came in rushing after, and I had no idea. I just go out there and try to do the best I can, and it all falls in. Definitely a surprise to me, and it's definitely great.
Q. Does it put more pressure on you do you think going forward, now that you know all the history, and do you feel like a flag bearer or something like that?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: No, I try to do my best, with all respect, you've got to understand that, I've still got to go out there and perform, and I've got to think about what I've got to do on track to get me back in victory lane. Adding more pressure definitely doesn't help. I've done that three times this year, Charlotte, Kentucky and Michigan, and where did we wind up? On the hook. If I just go back to the number one thing a racer should do is have fun, then let everything else settle into place.
Q. This is toward Wendell and Frankie. I asked Darrell yesterday, he knew that the win was going to come, and the anticipation versus the actual event occurring, how that differed, and I guess from you guys' perspective knowing that one day your dad's accomplishment would be continued, did the feelings differ from the anticipation once it happened yesterday?
WENDELL SCOTT JR.: You know, to add a little bit to your question as a caveat to the answer, I'll mix it up real good, you know, I got the chance to race. My dad gave me the opportunity to race a few times, and that was my goal, to win a race. And I discovered that when I tried to win a race from a historical perspective, I did worse. Like Darrell just said, when they put that helmet on you, you jump in the car, in the old days they'd pound on the hood, that meant you were on your own. That's when you've got to become a racer and don't rob yourself of the opportunity to enjoy the moment, and that's what Darrell is doing. Frankie texted me right at the end, right toward the last caution, and he was worried. He was apprehensive, and I just texted him back, "he got this," and he did.
So if that answers anything, that's the best I can do with it.
Q. Darrell, what do you think, there's a couple of Hall of Fame voters in the audience right here. What do you think about Wendell Scott in the Hall of Fame?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Like he said yesterday, we heard that big boom, "hell, yeah." So simple enough.
Q. Darrell, you said you weren't really aware of the historical magnitude until everyone started talking about it. What has it been like since then? I believe my parents said you were on Good Morning America this morning, and what's the whirlwind been like?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: A lot of Tweets with hashtag and history. It hasn't hit me yet. I think the only time it hit me was when I took the checkered, and then after that it still hasn't hit me. I guess tomorrow or whatever, it usually takes a couple days for a big win to settle in. It has been over a year since my last one. But it's been great seeing all the outlets that I'm on and doing all this stuff. It's for the better, and it's trying to change the sport, and I'm all in for that.
Just carrying the torch that Wendell Scott laid down for us and taking it farther, and that's the biggest thing I'm trying to do. I don't really pay attention to all the media stuff and let that get to me and forget where I came from. That's not my type. I read through it, appreciate everybody for all the comments, but I've still got three races to go.
Q. Darrell, what has the Drive For Diversity program done for you and how have you been able to give back to that as a product of that program?
DARRELL WALLACE JR.: Yeah, it's definitely got me here. We signed on with JGR in 2009. I can't believe it's already almost five years with them, and it's been great. They didn't really have anything for me that year, and they said let's try out the Diversity program, and we did it, and we had two great years, 2010, 2011, he was reading off the résumé earlier, and without that, I don't think I'd be sitting here. I'd probably be in like photography now, so probably be doing something there or trying to pick back up a basketball or something. But definitely the racing side of it helped out, but the media side, the outside stuff away from racing definitely helped out 10 times more, TV shows and sending us out to the BET Awards and doing anything to get your name out there definitely helped a lot. Yeah, it probably stuck with two people out of the thousands that I met, but those two people could be on the side of my race car one day, so it definitely helps.
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