Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story: The American Odyssey of Nascar's First Black Driver

Brian Donovan, Author . Steerforth $25.95 (311p) ISBN 978-1-58642-144-1

In this excellent biography, Donovan, a Pulitzer Prize–winning newspaper reporter and seasoned race car driver, recounts the overlooked life of Wendell Scott, the one-time Danville, Va., moonshine runner who broke the color barrier in stock-car racing in 1952 and competed for more than 20 years in a sport dominated by Southern whites. Scott, despite never having the backing of big automakers to put him in a top-notch car, finished many NASCAR races and season standings in the top 10. He won a Grand National event in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1963, a race in which officials initially tried to deny Scott the trophy because it meant he would be entitled to kiss the white race queen. Scott survived with soft-spoken manners, avoiding confrontation with those who resented him by driving conservatively to avoid collisions that would have raised the ire of white drivers and fans. He was an excellent mechanic who cobbled together subpar engines as best he could and often lived on the edge of bankruptcy. Donovan's writing is well-paced and measured, clearly depicting the complex atmosphere of race relations in the segregated South. His extensive reporting, including interviews with Scott before he died in 1990, combined with his descriptive and enjoyable prose about racing, make this book a deeply compelling story. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 311 pages - 978-1-58642-160-1
Open Ebook - 227 pages - 978-1-58642-161-8
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