Indiana State University Newsroom

Pulitzer prize-winning author to visit Indiana State

March 17, 2011

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author Brian Donovan will visit Indiana State University on March 31 to speak about his book chronicling the life of NASCAR's first black driver.

Donovan's presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in the events area of the ISU Library. He is the author of "Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story." In the book, Donovan writes about how Scott encountered difficulties as he struggled to integrate the sport of stock car racing, said Lisa Phillips, assistant professor history at ISU.

"It's a great book," Phillips said. "It's well-researched, of course, and it really mirrors a lot of what was going on" in the country at the time.

Scott raced under different rules, he couldn't sleep in the local hotels or eat in local restaurants and had to endure additional aspects of racial segregation that were prominent in the South then, Phillips said.

Scott was extremely talented, and he had to work incredibly hard for the little recognition that he received when he raced, which was mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, said Joyce Young, director of motorsports studies program at ISU.

"He never seemed to give up," Young said, "but he certainly was not rewarded in the way that he should have."

Phillips and Young are co-teaching a class that read Donovan's book. The class, which was created in part to commemorate the centennial anniversary since the first running of the Indianapolis 500, teaches American history in the last 100 years in conjunction with history of motorsports.

"To me, Donovan's book on Wendell Scott is perfect for our class," Phillips said of history in motorsports reflecting events in larger American society. "Wendell Scott was integrating NASCAR at the same time that the Civil Rights movement was taking place in the U.S. and trying to integrate so many other facets of American society. So it's a great example of what we're trying to do."

Contact: Joyce Young, director of motorsports studies program, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2000 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or