Lost Jacksonville: The Story of Speedway Park

November 4, 2015 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

NASCAR Grand Series  races weren’t regularly scheduled at this track, but there would be several  held in the1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1961, and the 1964 seasons. Some notable winners over the years include: : Larry Flynn, David Ezell, Tiny Lund, Billy Yuma, Jimmy Lee Capps, Will Cagle, Bubba Into, Tom Pistone, Pee Wee Griffin, Earl Pearson, Sr., Eldon Yarbourgh, Lee Roy Yarborugh, Rod Eulenfeld, Jack Nolan, Jimmy Thompson, Bill Snowden, Curtis Turner, Harvey Jones, Jack Ethridge, Skimp Hersey, and Red Byron.

Wendell Scott (center). Courtesy of MotorAuthority.com

The Grand Series’ most notable season was actually its last. The race took place on December 1st of that year. One major contender was Jimmy Lee Capps. Capps was a fairly experienced racer, who was strapped in to a car made by none other than Irwin “Speedy” Spiers. Spiers was a well-known car builder, who had built cars that won over 1,000 races. Spiers, now 83, actually still builds engines in a shop right here, on the Eastside of Jacksonville. Richard Petty, one of the most frequent winners in NASCAR, was also a participant. What makes this race so unique and important, though, is the other notable racer—Wendell Scott.

Scott’s race story is an interesting one. During the race, Petty had been leading for over 100 laps. Everyone thought he had the win, easy, until his steering broke, likely due to the conditions of the track. Scott took the lead with 25 laps remaining as Petty fell behind. He crossed the finished line in the lead after lap 200, but there was nobody waving the checkered flag. Two laps later, the flag was waved—for Buck Baker.

After complaints, the race steward went back to realize two of Scott’s laps were missing. Baker’s title was taken, and Scott was given the title of winner, followed by Baker in second, and Jack Smith in third. Because Scott’s win was delayed, he never received the trophy. While he may have never been a trophy holder, Scott had won, making him the first African American man to win a NASCAR event.

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