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Hard Driving Paperback – 4 Aug 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: STEERFORTH PRESS (4 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586421603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586421601
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 4.3 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,134,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


One of the Year's Top Ten African American History Titles. -- Booklist

"Hard Driving is an almost bigger-than-life account of Scott, NASCAR's first and only black driver to compete on a regular basis. . . . Donovan tells it like it was. . . . A copy of Brian Donovan's masterpiece should be in every library in the country, inculding schools. No value can be placed on its worth, not only from the stock car racing side, but from the black history aspect. . . . The only down side of this release is the fact Wendell Scott never had the opportunity to read it. Read it. You will be glad you did. And I'll add this little warning. The last part may bring a tear or two to your eyes." -- Morris Stephenson in The Franklin News-Post

"The book is superb and features terrific reporting. . . . But perhaps the most noteworthy words in the book were those muttered as Scott, fittingly, had his head under the hood of a car. 'I come along too soon, ' he said. 'Too soon.'" -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Whatever Robinson's travails, nobody ever tried to kill him on the baseball diamond.... Some of the villains in the Scott story are the saints and heroes of the sport: Baker, Banjo Mathews, Enoch Staley, Bruton Smith. Bill France Sr., NASCAR's founder, promised Scott that as long as he held a NASCAR license he would be treated fairly, but that never happened.

On the other hand, Scott had his defenders and supporters, drivers like Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty and Fireball Roberts. These, some of the sport's good guys, really were.

There is also the suggestion that NASCAR let Scott race only as long as he wasn't too competitive. Donovan makes a persuasive case that automakers gave Scott just enough help to stay in the show without giving him enough to win. Unwittingly, perhaps, Scott became the star of his own awful automotive minstrel show, a black back marker for the amusement of white fans.

He always believed that if he could get into a competitive car, he had the talent to beat the sport's stars. Maybe, maybe not. One thing seems beyond dispute: Nobody ever wanted it worse than Wendell Scott." -- The Los Angeles Times

"Donovan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who often wrote about prejudice. He also became an amateur racer, and clearly warms to his subject. But Donovan doesn't sugarcoat the unseemly side of Scott's character, from the harsh way he treats his family to his affairs with other women.

So is this book for non-racing fans? Yes, although I think hard-core may enjoy it more. That'd be a shame. Scott's story deserves to be told, and Donovan tells it well." -- The Charlotte Observer

"Donovan has written a book that is both a history and a sports classic." -- Detroit Free Press

"A fascinating book . . . a wonderful story about a really interesting guy." -- Toronto Star

"The gripping story of a fascinating, brave man who deserves serious recognition for his solitary accomplishment. . . . Donovan has produced one of the most compelling sports biographies of this or any year. A must-read for NASCAR fans." -- (starred review) Booklist

"Donovan shows how Scott's career was every bit as ground-breaking as Jackie Robinson's feat of breaking baseball's color barrier. Perhaps even more. . . ." -- The Tampa Tribune

"In this excellent biography, Donovan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper reporter and seasoned race car driver, recounts the overlooked life of Wendell Scott, the one-time Danville, Va., moonshine runner who broke the color barrier in stock-car racing in 1952 and competed for more than 20 years in a sport dominated by Southern whites... Donovan's writing is well-paced and measured, clearly depicting the complex atmosphere of race relations in the segregated South. His extensive reporting, including interviews with Scott before he died in 1990, combined with his descriptive and enjoyable prose about racing, make this book a deeply compelling story." -- (starred review) Publishers Weekly

"In Hard Driving, Brian Donovan has given us a beautifully insightful look at Wendell Scott--a vital NASCAR pioneer--that's exceedingly well-written, and researched with the kind of zeal and expertise necessary for a tale that covers so rocky a road. Talk about a necessary sports biography. Hard Driving is unquestionably a winner." -- Robert Edelstein, author of Full Throttle: The Life and Fast Times of NASCAR Legend Curtis Turner

"Brian Donovan has written a surprisingly moving and powerful account of Wendell Scott's utterly American Odyssey. It offers a window into a world not that far removed from our own, as we struggle still to judge each person, as Dr. King said, on the content of their character-not the color of their skin." - Ken Burns, filmmaker, winner of three Emmy Awards, including one for Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

"Wendell Scott didn't set out to be a civil rights pioneer. He just wanted to race. His determination against all odds not only broke racial barriers in a Southern white sport at a time when few would have thought it possible but changed the way many racing fans thought about race. As a long-time admirer of Scott, it's my hope that this book, splendidly researched and written, brings him the widespread recognition that he has long deserved." - Jerry Bledsoe, New York Times #1 bestseller and author of The World's Number-One, Flat-Out, All-Time Great Stock Car Racing Book

"Wendell Scott was to NASCAR what Jackie Robinson was to baseball. The difference was that Robinson played in liberal Brooklyn and had the backing of Branch Rickey, and Scott raced in the segregated South and hadEnobody. The hard-working, dauntless Scott, like Robinson, should be a national hero. Until that day, he has Brian Donovan's moving biography as his legacy." - Peter Golenbock, author of Miracle: Bobby Allison and the Saga of the Alabama Gang

"Finally a NASCAR book that doesn't leave the reader feeling like a redneck hillbilly. Donovan's Hard Driving is an American history book that uses stock car racing to educate about the segregationist South. Driver Wendell Scott overcame more hardship than any 10 white NASCAR drivers combined. Donovan has done an amazing investigative reporting job ferreting out the stories and details that give this story life." - Tom Cotter, Road & Track contributing editor and author of The Cobra in the Barn

About the Author

Brian Donovan, a former Newsday investigative reporter, has won more than forty journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and Columbia University's Paul Tobenkin Award for reporting on racial and ethnic intolerance. Driving on the EMRA Vanderbilt Cup circuit, he has won a season championship, as well as a track championship at Pennsylvania's Pocono Raceway and dozens of races from Canada to West Virginia. He gained exclusive access to Wendell Scott over the last fourteen months of his life and interviewed more than two hundred individuals to capture this epic, previously untold American story. He lives on Long Island.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book and not just for car racing or even NASCAR fans. An interesting look at how deep racial prejudice ran in the Deep South of America and the awesome strength and tenacity of a man who wanted to live his dream.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 28 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of a hard-charging driver, self-made man, that couldn't win the fight against racism rampant in the ranks of NASCAR 21 Jan. 2016
By William I. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written book that covers the dirty mess of NASCAR's problem with not supporting black drivers. Amazing that a sport of this magnitude has not groomed blacks for driving; ditto for women. Some diversity in NASCAR is important. Wendell Scott was treated in the absolute worst way and you'll read about it here. I have gotten my copy autographed by a number of drivers that knew Wendell and they all speak highly of him. Still very sad about his story too since they all realize how badly the system treated Wendell. His surviving family members are proud of his accomplishments and it is great he was inducted into the Hall of Fame- not for winning a lot, for he did not, but for putting up with more crap and general racism than any other driver. You'll love Petty's involvement behind the scenes, leaving used parts from his own car in the garage for Wendell, knowing he needed them, but not doing it so blatantly as to offend others or make Wendell blush because he needed help. Petty was a God-send to Wendell and others tried helping him too.
5.0 out of 5 stars Paints a Much Broader Picture 25 Mar. 2016
By P. Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think many of the other excellent reviews here captured perfectly the essence of this book and Scott's struggle to race. The eye opener for me was the larger picture, that of the deep seated and comprehensive racism that existed at the time. We've seen the pictures of screaming faces in the street innumerable times, but what we haven't glimpsed is how that same intolerance existed at the very highest levels of American politics, culture and even the corporate boardroom. Wendell Scott's only real crime was that he inadvertently peeled back a lot of wood and found some very nasty creatures living underneath.

I followed up the book with the ESPN documentary on the same subject (in which the author is interviewed extensively). Regrettably, their white washing of the France's family's direct involvement and support for some of the worst and most powerful racists of the day shows that much of the prejudice Scott fought against is still very much alive.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Read 16 April 2017
By Robert J. Joos Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a great read. I never knew all of what Wendell had to go thru just to race. Racism was so big and large in Nascar even when Bill France Sr told Wendell that he would be treated fairly. I recommend very highly for you to read this book. Wendell Scott was an amazing man.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Story of A Real Stock Car Hero.. A Most Read 29 April 2013
By InSun Beatty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the book to be very interesting and I believe it is a must read for any true Nascar Fan, especially if they are a minority.. I love the idea that the author spent about year interviewing Wendell Scott, his friends, and of course his sons who went to many of the races with him as his crew.. The books tell the story of Wendell Scott (Black Driver) and his determination to succeed in a time where he faced many prejudices because he was black. The many struggles he had in dealing with prejudice track owners and drivers who resented him..
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks for racing Wendell and Brian thanks for writing this. 8 Sept. 2010
By Terry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, I am so glad I took the time to read this book. It really sets things in perspective. I can only imagine what Mr. Scott, his team and family must have endured while trying to compete in a sport he so loved. But upon reading Mr. Donovan's book, I now have more respect for Wendell, his team and family than I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, I knew little of him or his story until recently. As a newcomer (circa early 1990s) to stock car auto racing I did not see the early days when Wendell and others raced. But now I know much more about it. I am so glad that I believe one of his cars, the 1971 Cyclone is apparently now restored in a museum and can only wish that others would be some day as well. Maybe the Dodge hauler will also be done. Again I offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Donovan and Wendell's family and friends for helping get this book to print. I hope in some days time, all will know his story, triumphs and tribulations. He certainly deserves recognition with any that have gotten it in this sport. I only wish there were more pictures of Wendell, his team and cars posted on the internet. Fortunately there are several good ones in Hard Driving. But I crave more. God speed Wendell. Thanks again. This is a must read for all.
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