Wendell Scott & Clay Earles Honored

H. Clay Earles, Wendell Scott Honored By Druid Hills Elementary Martinsville, VA---Wendell Scott and H. Clay Earles were honored this week by students at Druid Hills Elementary School. The approximately 300 students spend last...

H. Clay Earles, Wendell Scott Honored By Druid Hills Elementary

Martinsville, VA---Wendell Scott and H. Clay Earles were honored this week by students at Druid Hills Elementary School. The approximately 300 students spend last week learning about racing and NASCAR. The week long program included seeing a video history of Martinsville Speedway, visits from Butch Hamlet, driver of the Taco Bell Late Model Stock Chevrolet, David Davis, driver of a Mini-Cup car at New River Valley Speedway and Dink Gardner who brought racing memorabilia to the school for display. The students also had a reading contest and wore racing shirts and hats to school. Tuesday, school Principal Bill Vickers presented Frank Scott, Wendell's son, and W. Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway and grandson of Earles, plaques recognizing the dedication, determination and leadership of both Scott and Earles. Wendell Scott, who died in 1990, was honored earlier this year by being inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega AL. He began racing at the Danville Fairgrounds Speedway winning 120 races in lower divisions and in 1959 won state championships in his classes. In 1961, he fielded a car in NASCAR's Grand National circuit, later renamed the Winston Cup Series. On December 1, 1963 he won his only Grand National race, a 100-mile event on a half-mile track in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the only African-American to ever win a Winston Cup race. Frank Scott spoke to the students to begin the awards ceremony and displayed memorabilia from his father's years in racing. He asked the students how many of them went to the races at Martinsville Speedway this past weekend and told them that when he was their age he was going to the races too, but he was going there to work. "I was rolling tires, handing my father tools and doing whatever a little kid could do," he said. According to Scott, the word determination describes his father. "He didn't believe in can't and never. He wouldn't allow you to use those words," he said. Scott said his father had steely gray eyes that would change color with his mood. "They were green, blue, gray. You know mood rings, well he had mood eyes." Scott said he could remember sitting at the dinner table and somebody said "I can't do that." "Then his (Wendell Scott) eyes started changing and he said 'get up and come back when your attitude is right.'" "You need to set goals right now," he told the students. "You are not too young to set goals in life. Whether you want to be a race car driver, a doctor, teacher or whatever you want to be, it's not too early to start dreaming about that right now." Scott said they should not worry about changing their goals because, "life has a way of placing you where you can be the most beneficial." Scott said his goal was to be a race car driver, but it didn't happen. He went to college and is now a teacher and coach at Laurel Park High School in Henry County, VA. Scott said the first time he drove a car around a track he was 13-years-old in Hillsboro, NC. He said he made some laps and then decided to try to go faster and spun out. While he was sitting sideways on the track, legendary driver Junior Johnson slid up beside of him and threw mud all in his car. "When I got the car started again and came on around the track, I couldn't wait to get back to the pit area and park that car and get out of it," he said, but when he came back around he saw his father and Wendell wouldn't let him come in. "Later on he told me the reason he did that. He told me if I had come in I would have a fear of it." Racing is hard work, according to Scott. He remembers working around the clock when they had to get their car ready to race and his father would send he and his brothers home in shifts to get some sleep, "but I don't every remember him going to the house to go to sleep. I don't know when he slept." "It was all about determination. I guess what I am saying to you is that in life things may seem like they are difficult and impossible for you to achieve, but they are not. You have to have the determination and drive to keep yourself going." Vickers said he wanted to give the award to Earles and Martinsville Speedway for being a very visible part of the education program in Martinsville. He also said the award was for Earles building a dirt track in 1947 and taking it to the multi-million dollar facility that it is today. Vickers talked about Martinsville Speedway running a Strictly Stock race in the series' very first season in 1949 which eventually began the NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. Vickers said Martinsville Speedway helped NASCAR grow to its status today. Campbell said that he knew Earles would have loved to be there to receive the award that included his contributions to the economic welfare of the area, but his health prevented him from being there. "There are two things that are near and dear to his heart and that is children and education," Campbell said. "I know if he was here, he would love to be sitting right here in the floor with you sharing stories." "I think Mr. Scott's father and my grandfather had a lot in common. Both of them went up against the odds and both of them persevered and made it. We came from a small dirt track to where we are now and that is all because of perseverance," Campbell said. "The people we have working for us give it 100%. I think you need to remember that all through your life, no matter what you do, you don't have to be the best at what you do just be the best that you can be at doing it. You can achieve anything in the world that you want to. I think a lot of things that Mr. Scott touched upon, if you that heed to that, you can go far in life," Campbell said.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Junior Johnson , Clay Campbell , Wendell Scott