Story by Rhonda Beck. Photo courtesy Tyrone McIntyre.
Tyrone McIntyre knows the history of racing. He also knows about the ongoing push for diversity in the sport, being involved with many of his own efforts over the years.
A native of Detroit, MI, McIntyre owns Finish Line Expediting and Deliveries and developed a program called “Driven to Succeed”, inspired by the life and racing of Wendell Scott. Scott was the first African-American to win a race at NASCAR’s highest level.
Over the years, McIntyre has sponsored trophies for African-American youth in motorsports and has taken them to NASCAR events, like at Michigan International Speedway in 2009.
“We received pit passes for the kids from NASCAR and Jack Roush, whose family I’ve visited with and known through the years, paid for the van to take us to and from the track,” said McIntyre.
McIntyre knows there is interest but not the opportunity and financial means for many of them to race.
“Lots of kids like racing but don’t know how to go about getting into it. I wanted to make opportunities available for kids in the Detroit metro area,” said McIntyre.
McIntyre is well-versed in some of the challenges and even prejudices of the past and wants things to be different for future generations.
When he was in high school in the late 1970’s, McIntyre liked racing but said he hadn’t seen any black drivers in the sport. His uncle first took him to some races at age seven. He then heard about Wendell Scott, went to the library, and found out a way to get Scott’s contact information.
“I called him up and started talking to him every weekend,” said McIntyre.
Scott was not racing anymore but had an interest in helping young people.
Eventually Scott invited McIntyre down to his home for the summer. McIntyre had maintained good grades in school and asked his mother if he could go.
“My mom said, ‘Let me talk to him’.”
His mother got on the phone with Scott and then bought McIntyre a bus ticket. Soon he was on his way to Danville, Va. to meet up with a racing legend and the people he would call his second family.
McIntyre said Scott was excited about his interest.
“I think at that time he was out of racing for a while and by me coming, that little spark came back.”
They traveled to the various places where Scott had raced, like South Boston Speedway in South Boston, Va.
McIntyre learned how to work on cars and listened and talked to the racers and crew members. Scott’s friends called McIntyre “Detroit”.
“I enjoyed driving around with him, going back to his house and eating breakfast and dinner together, and having him show me pictures from his days of racing,” said McIntyre.
McIntyre also heard a lot of stories and learned about Scott’s struggles to continue racing through the years as well as some of the prejudice he had endured.
One pioneer racer, Billy Scott, of Union, S.C. raced in NASCAR’s Sportsman series, along with other drivers like Ralph Earnhardt and Chuck Piazza. Billy said he remembered some of the challenges Wendell Scott had. Like one time when he was working in the pits down at Daytona, he said he witnessed Wendell get out of his car during a pit stop and change his own tire.
McIntyre heard a lot of similar stories–like about Wendell Scott’s first NASCAR win in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1963. Scott wasn’t given the trophy in victory lane and didn’t consider kissing the race queen as most of the other drivers always did.
“I saw the actual original trophy that’s ragged and all torn to pieces at his house,” said McIntyre, who knew the Scott family was hoping to get a more official trophy and the acknowledgement he deserved.
McIntyre knew that Scott just loved racing so much and endured what he had to, to keep going to the track.
In recent years, McIntyre has attended events where Scott was honored. In 2014 when Bubba Wallace (Darrell Wallace Jr.) ran the number 34 commemorating Wendell Scott in the NASCAR Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway, McIntyre was there. He has also been to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. where Scott was inducted posthumously in 2015.
In 2013 a historical marker honoring Scott was put up in Danville, Va. and in 2018 they dedicated a portion of U.S. 29 in Danville in Scott’s honor.
On May 18, 2018 McIntyre himself was presented with The Terrance Alton Cox Motorsports Award at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. It was given to him by American Standard Motorsports to celebrate the achievements of people of all colors who have contributed to motorsports. 125 guests were in attendance with 17 award recipients from around the country. McIntyre and his racers were back-to-back champions in the Midwest Classic Racers Series in 2017 and 2018.
McIntyre created the “Driven to Succeed” initiative to expose kids to the world of racing, including learning about the industry and career opportunities. It involves learning the fundamentals of how cars are built and how they work. And of course, he emphasized learning about people like Wendell Scott, who were driven to succeed.
McIntyre credits his good friend Renee Wallace, mom Mozella McIntyre and sister Darlene McIntyre for being supporters who worked closely with him to develop the program.
McIntyre said he listens to country music stations or rock and roll stations where they often broadcast about upcoming races and sometimes give away tickets and pit passes. He said that he doesn’t hear that on stations which African-Americans are more prone to listen to. With more social media outlets, stations, etc., hopefully more of that will change in the future.
McIntyre has worked with several accomplished young drivers over the years, encouraging their development and trying to help them succeed and move into higher levels of racing. Many are striving to become part of diversity and development programs. Some of these have led to spots racing in series like ARCA, but getting to the highest levels of NASCAR has been difficult.
Morgen Baird and Kim Hughes were a couple of his former drivers.
“Morgen was driving mini Cup and then I put him in a faster car and he ran for me for two years. Lately he’s been running a couple of ARCA races. Kim raced with me for five or six years. She began in go-karts at age 10 and last year she had a couple of starts in the ARCA truck series.”
“I spent a lot of my money on cars and engines, trying to give kids a chance so they are given a look and can get to the next level,” said McIntyre, who admits it’s been difficult and he has often run out of resources.
Currently, though, McIntyre is feeling hopeful and is working with some other professionals on a business plan to launch a new program—something that will help give racers more opportunities.
And after watching the introduction and words by NASCAR drivers and officials before the Atlanta Cup race on June 7, 2020, McIntyre said, “It looks like they are trying to do better. It was good seeing that NASCAR was reaching out and making a difference—like when they had the moment of silence. I think Wendell Scott would be proud, the kind of man that he was. I think he would be happy about the strides that NASCAR is making.”
Whenever McIntyre gets the opportunity to talk about Wendell Scott, he does. He even created a display at a nearby senior center.
“I set up a table with model cars that Wendell had given to me and I explained to them about his life.”
McIntyre feels it is very important to continue the legacy that Scott started.
“I will always love this man. I can remember driving down the road talking, just me and him. And his son Wendell Jr. said to me, ‘Ty, Dad would be proud of everything you’ve done.’,” said McIntyre.