Darrell Wallace jr.

Photo: Steve Helber Associated Press October 26, 2013

*Remember the movie “Greased Lightning” which starred Richard Pryor? I loved the movie which was loosely based on the life of Nascar winner Wendell Oliver Scott (died 1990) who broke the color barrier in Southern stock car racing in1952 at Virginia’s Danville Fairgrounds Speedway. In 1963 he became the first Black-American driver to win a race in what is now called the Sprint Cup Series.

Fast-forward to 2013 – a half century later – 20 year old Darrell Wallace Jr., won the NASCAR truck race Saturday in Martinsville, Va., the only other Black driver to ever do so.

It took 50 years but upon reaching Victory Lane, Wallace told reporters, “I’m speechless right now.” He said of Scott who was a native of nearby Danville “[He] was watching over me this race. It all goes to him.”

A NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie, Wallace won the Kroger 200 in his No. 54 Toyota Tundra after leading a race-high 96 laps.

Wendell Oliver Scott, NASCAR Winner

Wendell Oliver Scott, NASCAR Winner

In a statement NASCAR Chairman Brian France said, “We congratulate Darrell Wallace Jr. on his first national series victory, one that will be remembered as a remarkable moment in our sport’s history.”

About 10 years ago NASCAR started its “Drive for Diversity” program to promote women and minorities in racing. Wallace is one of the program’s graduates.

Wallace is a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. He is driving trucks prepared by Cup star Kyle Busch’s truck team. “This is certainly a monumental day and hopefully one that [Wallace will] remember for a long time and can cherish,” said Busch.

NASCAR has its eyes on Wallace and is monitoring his progress for no Black-American currently drives full time in NASCAR’s premier Cup series or its second-level Nationwide Series.