Story and photo by Rhonda Beck
I had the opportunity to chat with former NASCAR driver and National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame member Billy Scott of Union, S.C. at a cruise in at Charles Craig’s in Gastonia, N.C. on October 16, 2021. Both Scott and Craig have been featured in episodes of “Lost Speedways” which has become a hit with people interested in the history of racing. Scott’s long-time friend and race announcer Duane Goins was also on hand. Goins is a 2021 Carolina Speedway Hall of Fame inductee and has known Scott and his family for many years. Scott reflected on a few racing memories and his love for his wife, Barbara.
Rhonda: How did you meet Duane Goins?
Billy: Duane’s been a good friend for many years, and I believe I met him at Gaffney Speedway (known as Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C.) He helps a lot of people in racing. He goes and sees all the races. We’re real good friends. He come to see me at home since Barbara passed away. He tried to help a lot of young drivers. That’s him right here coming over (Duane Goins comes to join/listen to the interview.)
R: Yeah, here he comes. What can you say about him?
B: Well, they inducted me into the Hall of Fame in Daytona–the Living Legends of Auto Racing. And Duane, he got up there and talked about 15 minutes. And they wouldn’t let me talk because he took up all the time. (Duane laughs in the background.)
Duane: There’s a lot of truth in that. And Chocolate Myers was trying to run me off the stage.
B: Yeah, when I got up there, Chocolate wanted to skip and go to somebody else, but it made his wife mad. But I didn’t get to say but a few words, just about Barbara (Scott’s wife Barbara passed away in 2020.)
D: You had laryngitis?
B: Oh, was that what it was? (Billy laughs)
D: Maybe you had stage fright.
R: And at Kentucky too, when you got into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2010, Duane was there and helped with a lot of things.
B: Yeah, he’s followed me around and he’s followed a lot of people around and he likes to keep up with racing. He’s really helped racing. He’s a good friend of ours. And everybody knows him. He’s a good boy. And as far as Kentucky, I believe that was one of the best races I ever saw. I believe Jimmy Owens won the race. (Owens, of Newport, TN has won the North South 100 four times, including this past July and in 2007, 2010 and 2011.) It was a good track, but I haven’t been back. I’ve talked to some people up there and they still got my stuff on display. But I’ve heard that they’ve closed the museum down now. It might not be true, but I heard that. But I got one of ‘em’s phone number and I’m going to call them and check it out. They told me they’d send my stuff back that they’ve got in it if they gonna close it down. But that place was too small. They needed twice as much space as they had.
R: Yeah, it kind of sounds like Phil Comb’s museum in Shelby. We’ve been over there. Have you visited there?
B: Yeah, I’ve been to the track and all and I missed the last one. They had a lot of people I knew–I mean old drivers, and I wished I’da went.
R: In Kentucky?
B: No at Combs. It ain’t been too long that they’d had a show over there and a whole bunch of the Grand National Drivers and Winston drivers were there. And I wished I’da went but I didn’t get to go.
R: Your family and everyone is so great. And I was glad to see you in the” Lost Speedways” show. Too bad that some of these speedways are gone like Metrolina, but at least they are trying to do some history.
B: I’d like to say something about Dale (Earnhardt) Jr.
B: I knew when he was born, and I seen him in diapers when he was young. But I never did be around him racing because we raced, you know, in different states. But he is absolutely one of the nicest persons I’ve ever met.
B: And he knows how to interview you, and I really enjoyed talking to him. He wanted me to come there. He asked me when I got there, ‘You the oldest person living who raced with my grandpa and with my daddy.’ ‘Cause I raced with Ralph Earnhardt about 15 years and then I raced with Dale some.
B: But I never did race with (Dale) Jr. He got me up there at Metrolina, at that track. When he was interviewing me, he said that ‘something happened one night up here with you and my grandpa.’ And me and Ralph got into it one night, spinnin’ each other out in the heat race. And they was fightin’ all over the hood of my car and all over the straight-away and everything. And me and Ralph just set in the cars. It was all over a $15 heat race. But me and Ralph raced 15, 16 years together and that’s the only problem we ever had.
R: That’s great.
B: And Ralph was just like Dale Sr. He was the man to beat back when he was coming with his daddy. But Jr. asked me that, ‘What happened on the racetrack?’ and I told him the whole story–why I spun him out and why he spun me out. And he (Dale Jr.) said, ‘Well I heard some of the rumors about that’ and that’s the reason they got me on that show. I enjoyed going up there and he’s the nicest fellar I’ve ever seen.
R: I hope they keep doing more of that stuff. Because there’s so many people who’ve contributed to racing. If they were in it for one year or five years or twenty years, you want to keep hearing about all these interesting people.
B: But you know, sometime I talk about the Internet and all that. But if it wasn’t for the Internet, I wouldn’t be sittin’ here talkin’ to you today. Because it’s helped the old-timers like me. It bring us back to life.
R: I agree.
B: And the people. Half the people here don’t know you, but the other half do.
R: And then they get to know you.
B: Yeah, they get to know you.
R: And even someone like me. I did it 10 years ago, but now I can’t drive 10 hours; I can’t drive home at night. But we can come to some of these events and like you said, then they post a picture online. It could be one of your friends and maybe they’re on oxygen, but they can see those pictures and they can connect with you over the Internet.
B: Well, Barbara done that all the time. Some people talking to me and Barbara done talked to them and told them things. And I didn’t know they done talked. But they thought it was me, I guess. But it’s really helped bring a lot of things back, especially in racing. And Dale Jr., he’s hooked on that. He likes to get the history of everything. Never have met his wife, but I loved his grandpa Robert Gee. Him and me were good friends. And I knew Brenda, the one that Dale married. But he is one of the nicest fellars and he’s good on T.V. too. He done got where he talks a lot.
R: And yeah, I think he bridges the gap between those who are younger and coming up and only know the smart cars and the computers, and those that were starting when everything had to be done with a wrench.
R: And do you want to say anything yet about Barbara?
B: Well, we talked a little about Barbara. We lost her a little over a year ago. She died and she followed me for 43 years of racing and there were very few races she missed. 43 years. I was telling some people a while ago, when I want to cry about her dying, I think about God giving me her. For 67 years we were married. She was a good woman and she supported me. And God created a place for her to go. And she’s in heaven right now.
R: She was a beautiful person. You both are. And it’s great to see you again. Glad that you could come and that your fans could see you again.
B: I enjoy it, really. But a lot of people don’t believe that I’m 86 years old. Some boy and his wife was there talking and I don’t know if she believed me. But I like to do it. But I can’t do it so much. I get tired. You know how that is. And your memory gets worse as you get older. And there’s 100’s of people here today that I know. When they come up, I see the eyes. Like you when you come up. Your hair is longer and everything. But I recognize people by the eyes. I could sit around all day and talk to people about racing. And Barbara used to get on to me that I used to be the last one that left the track. And she had back problems half her life and she blamed me for that, settin’ on all those cement grandstands watchin’ me race. (He laughs) But she was a good special woman and I miss her. And I’m hopin’ to meet her someday.