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RACING AGAINST THE ODDS by Carole Boston Weatherford


The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing’s African-American Champion

by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Eric A. Velasquez

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7614-5465-6
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

“Wendell Scott was in a hurry from day one.” Having earned enough (“fifteen bucks”) to buy a Model T Ford at the age of 14, he went on to drive a cab (and collect a prodigious number of speeding tickets), operate a garage and run moonshine. “So when a race promoter wanted a black driver, the police said, ‘Scott’s your man. Ain’t nobody faster.’ ” Weatherford develops her character neatly and with conviction, hitting hard at his seemingly unquenchable enthusiasm for speed and his resilience in the face of enduring racism. Readers will feel her anger and his when, after becoming the first (and only) African American to win a NASCAR race, he had to watch blatantly biased judges award the trophy to a white man (they recanted later, giving him a replacement, “a wooden piece of junk,” a month later). Velasquez’s typically heroic pastels depict the smiling white driver mugging for the camera while a furious Scott looms outside the frame. Although the prose is less poetic than others of the author’s works, it retains a gritty vitality appropriate to the subject. Eye-opening, exhilarating and inspiring. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)