Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Junior Johnson, June 4, 1988. Interview C-0053. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

African American stock car driver

Johnson talks about Wendell Scott, one of the very few African Americans that successfully pursued a career in race car driving. Although stock car racing was born in the South at the height of Jim Crow segregation, Johnson argues that Scott was well-received at racetracks throughout the South and he describes how other drivers—himself included—worked to help Scott in his endeavors.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Junior Johnson, June 4, 1988. Interview C-0053. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

There's a part of the '50s and, I guess, the '60s that isn't generally known to a lot of people except those who really follow races, and that was the fact that Wendell Scott raced all through that time even though it was a very, sort of tense time as far as race relations. That's an interesting thing because a lot of times people think of racers as kind of a closed minded people and all that. How was that era when he was driving? Was he welcomed or was he just kind of, how did that go?
He was certainly welcomed everywhere he went. All the people that I know helped Wendell in many, many ways. I know my crew and I did a lot of things for Wendell. We give him parts and stuff to try to help him along the way. He was a very well mannered gentlemen, and he didn't try to present a problem around the race track. He wanted to be part of our sport, and he was part of it. Wendell was very limited in his resources and things he could do and all. I don't know if I could have lived underneath the strain that Wendell lived under and kept on racing. I think I would have quit. You gotta give him credit for keep plugging away at it and trying to come up with a professional organization where he could go out and really show his talents and stuff. I think if he'd had the right situation, he could have been pretty successful.
I got the impression from what I've read that his reason for driving was just like what you said about everybody else - he wanted to race. He felt compelled to go out and race.