No matter what happens in the Daytona 500 today, you'll want to make sure you tune into ESPN tonight (9 p.m. Eastern) for an hour-long docudrama on NASCAR's first black driver, Wendell Scott.
Wendell Scott: A Race Story is told through actors playing out scenes from Scott's life as his friends and family members narrate some of the memorable moments. And while the story is inspiring at times, it's also a difficult look at the struggles of a man who was discriminated against by many – including NASCAR itself.
Scott was a study in never giving up. He sometimes did his own pit stops, would barely made enough gas money to make it home from the track and persevered through conditions more difficult than any other drivers had to face.
One such instance was when NASCAR refused to wave the checkered flag for Scott at Jacksonville in what was eventually credited as his only victory. Why? Because officials didn't want a black man kissing the white beauty queen in Victory Lane.
Though officials told Scott they had made a "scoring error" long after the race was over and gave him the win, he never received the trophy.
"We did not celebrate it, and we'll never celebrate it," son Wendell Scott Jr. says in the film.
Scott Sr., frustrated at never having good equipment, sold basically everything he had and took out a mortgage so he could buy one good car in 1973 – an all-in move for one last shot. And there was no happy ending – he crashed.
Despite it taking nine years to pay for the car, he later said he didn't regret it. The story illustrates how he was a true racer, one of many examples in the film.
Unfortunately, A Race Story falls short when it tries to tie Scott's legacy to today's attempts at bringing minority drivers into the sport.
NASCAR wants to portray Scott as its Jackie Robinson. In reality, that's untrue. Though Scott was the first black driver – and the only one to win a race – his presence in the sport did not open the door for a flood of minorities to follow him.
Back then, the door slammed firmly shut. Scott was hardly acknowledged by NASCAR for decades, and only 47 years later was his family awarded a commemorative trophy from that race in Jacksonville.
We should all salute Scott and honor his legacy as a tenacious driver who had a dream and refused to give up on it. Some of the things he went through are incredible – and it's worth acknowledging this painful time in our history.
But instead of trying to convince viewers that Scott was somehow responsible for today's diversity efforts, the film would have been better off simply focusing on the man himself.