Herb Scott, a well-known stock car racer who captured many championships at tracks around the region, died Thursday of pneumonia at UPMC Passavant. He was 83.
Among Mr. Scott's 520 feature wins were 12 consecutive victories at Clarksburg, W.Va., in 1952. He capped off the 1956 season with 45 wins -- 21 came at the former Heidelberg Raceway, which was then a dirt track.
Mr. Scott, of Wexford, picked up his 500th career win on May 30, 1975 at Don Martin's Lerner-ville Speedway. He also won eight Pittsburgh Racing Association titles at Heidelberg and other area tracks and the Pittsburgh Roadster Association title in 1951.
Mr. Scott was a member of the National Dirt Track Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Lernerville Speedway Hall of Fame and the Pocono Speedway Hall of Fame. Racing peers said they respected his prowess on the track and appreciated his sense of humor.
Dave Kittey, former editor of RPM Racing News in Latrobe, recalled a night after a crash at Latrobe Speedway when the pants of Mr. Scott's driving suit fell to the track as he stepped out of his disabled race car. The laughs that erupted from the crowd defused the tension of the crash, Mr. Kittey said.
Smokey Schempp, a former competitor and current track official, said Mr. Scott exemplified race car drivers of the era.
"They would race hard, they would race tough, but they would get the job done," Mr. Schempp said. "When you won a feature [event], the next week you would start dead last and Herb did that many times and won.
"In his era, Herb Scott was the best," Mr. Schempp said. "He could have gone to Indy -- matter of fact, Herb told me that he had a chance to drive at Indy but turned it down."
Don Gamble, a former racer and local racing historian, recalled a time in the 1950s when Mr. Scott's team traveled to Langhorne, Pa., for a race on a 1-mile dirt oval.
Mr. Scott had such a big lead that he was forced to leave the track and go into the pit to change a flat tire, but he rejoined the field without dropping a lap behind. At the time, track officials didn't see it that way, but relented about 15 years later and awarded the win to Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott also opened his own auto repair business in Wexford, Herb Scott Service, in 1960 and ran it for 50 years.
After 31 years of racing, Mr. Scott retired in 1979. His last race -- which he won -- was at Schmucker's Speedway in Latrobe.
He was a member of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and a number of civic and fraternal organizations.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia Scott; a son, Richard "Deek" Scott of Wexford; two granddaughters and one great-grandson.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today in Devlin Funeral Home of Cranberry, 2678 Rochester Road. A service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2500 Brandt School Road, Wexford.
D.J. Johnson, freelance writer: DJ1360rpm@aol.com . He covers auto racing for the Post-Gazette.