Sad day for racing and those of us that spent a lot of time with Bill at Summit Point
William Henry "Bill" Scott, IV. 1938 - 2009
William Scott succumbed to a lengthy illness on December 7, 2009, at age 71. He lived a life of courage and uncompromising integrity. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a BA in geology and received his PhD in geophysics from Yale University. He chose to follow his passion for auto racing, however, rather than pursue a university career.
His success in racing included the 1968 European and U.S. Formulas Vee championships, the 1969 Formula Ford world championship, the 1970 Formula Vee world championship, and the 1971 and '72 Formulas Super Vee U. S. pro series championship. In 124 races between 1965 and 1972, bill won 42 times and finished on the podium 77 times. Bill Scott Racing Inc. also won three consecutive SCCA GTR-3 national titles as a team in the late 70's.
A racer's life is short lived and Bill had a vision to train drivers the skills that he learned from racing. In 1980, he purchased the ailing Summit Point Raceway and, over time, transformed it into a premier racing facility. Summit Point Motorsports Park has evolved into four tracks, several firing ranges, a new 13-acre tactical training center for the U.S. State Department, and the Summit Point Training Campus. BSR trained thousand of drivers from private security companies to government agencies, but Bill was most proud of his life-saving Accident Avoidance classes for young drivers.
Bill had his own explanation for success, "The competitive spirit is still there. I want to be so much better than any other business that does our type of training, so that it goes without saying that the best clients come here. Second place is not an option."
Bill carried this same spirit of excellence into his private life. He was an active supporter of the Music Conservatory of Shenandoah College and established the SPARC Foundation Fund, a part of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, for the support of educational opportunities in Jefferson County, WV. He was a member of the Sports Car Club of America, Road Racing Drivers Club, American Society for Industrial Security, Horticultural Society of West Virginia, International Motorsports Association, Rotary International, and was a former board member for the Hill School.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Scott, his sister, JoAnn Scott of Forest, VA, his children William Henry "Jens" Scott of Marshall, VA, Alexandra Scott of New York City, Joella Wilson of Atlanta, GA, Laura Kinsman of Williamsburg, VA and Frans Hansen of Annapolis, MD, and five grandchildren.
Those whose lives he has touched are many. He was a loving husband and papa. Of all his interests, family was the most important. The twinkle in his eye brightened the day of all who saw it.
His was a life well-lived.
thank you, Bill, for having the vision to provide us w/ that facility - our only one. W/ development going the way it has gone the past decades around here, there's no chance in hell someone could develop a track facility like Summit Point withint spitting distance of metropolitan DC anymore.
Sorry to hear about this: @ 71 sounds like he lived a nice full life.
RIP Bill Scott. You helped make the FCA 2006 annual meet most memorable and enjoyable for many people.
Never met him, but sounds like he was a heck of a guy--RIP
Washington Examiner Article.
Washington has never been much of a motorsports city, so the news of Bill Scott’s quiet passing at age 71 Monday in Middleburg went mostly unnoticed, except among those of us here for whom phrases like “Formula One” and “grand prix” have a magical power.
Hitting a baseball that looks like an aspirin as it hurtles toward the plate at 90 mph or threading the needle with a football thrown between a sprinting receiver and two charging safeties are certainly great sports challenges.
But no batter or quarterback ever faces the physical and mental challenges required to master a powerful race car balanced precariously on the excruciatingly fine line between the fastest lap and disaster. Scott drew that line as finely as some of the most famous men ever to drive a single-seat, open cockpit race car.
He may have been the best race car driver you never heard of here in his home town. During a remarkable four-year span, Scott won professional racing series that normally led to invitations to compete at the ultimate level, the Formula One world driving championship contested by an elite handful.
Among his titles were the 1968 European and U.S. Formula Vee championships, the 1969 Formula Ford world championship, the 1970 Formula Vee world championship, and the 1971 and 1972 Formula Super Vee U. S. professional championship.
In fact, as Gayle Lorenz wrote earlier this week, Scott started 124 races during those years, won 42 times and finished in the top three 77 times. He did that while competing against and beating such then-rising luminaries as Brazil’s Emerson Fittipaldi, Great Britain’s James Hunt, and Austria’s Niki Lauda, all three of whom later won world championships.
Racing can be the cruelest of sports in many ways, though, and Scott never got his shot at the grand prix circuit. So he retired as an active driver to become a successful professional racing team owner. In 1979, he bought Summit Point Raceway, then a bankrupt, poorly developed two mile, 10-turn road racing circuit in West Virginia, about an hour from the nation’s capital.
In time, he turned it into one of America’s best motorsports facilities. Today, it features four separate tracks, a highly lauded Accident Avoidance training course for young drivers, and one of the world’s premier anti-terrorist driving schools, used regularly by the U.S. State Department and “other” federal military and law enforcement agencies.
I first met Scott when I went club racing in a Formula Ford and covered the professional races at the track in the mid-1980s for The Washington Times, where I was then a desk editor and automotive columnist.
Scott was always helpful, available to give advice or patiently explain complicated technical information, and keenly interested in finding new ways to introduce Washingtonians to the subtle charms of motorsports, especially of the road racing variety in which he excelled.
He never really lost his touch behind the wheel, either. My former racing partner Denny Austin tells of a testing day at Summit when Scott’s team driver – a former Indy and Camel GT standout who shall remain nameless here – whined incessantly about being unable to get the car to go any faster.
Late in the afternoon, Scott, tiring of the complaints, jumped into the cockpit, and then, wearing street clothes, hard shoes and a throw-away helmet, went out and lowered the team’s fastest time on the day by two seconds.
On another occasion some years later, I stood listening nearby one day as Scott chatted with Paul Newman, who was then a rather talented racer in his own right. A frustrated Newman couldn’t quite get his factory Datsun Turbo Z Trans Am racer up to a competitive speed.
Scott suggested one small change – taking Summit’s tricky decreasing radius Turn 10 one gear higher than Newman was accustomed. Newman was overjoyed when Scott’s suggestion lowered his lap time by a full half-second. To put that into perspective, gaining half a second at Summit in the Trans Am cars of the era was like giving Cal Ripken a tip that added 20 homers to his total in a season.
I was blessed to have witnessed Scott’s immense talents as a racer and to benefit from his willingness to give me a desperately needed opportunity at a difficult time in my career. As much as I respected Scott for his speed, I especially admired him for being so devoted to his wife, Barbara, and their family, and for giving so much of himself to his friends and neighbors.
Lorenz recalled that “the twinkle in his eye brightened the day of all who saw it.” And so did Bill Scott’s life. Rest In Peace: William Henry "Bill" Scott, IV. 1938 – 2009.
Visitation is 6-8 pm at the Royston Funeral Home in Middleburg Wednesday evening, with funeral services at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville at 11 am Thursday.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner
Reading about Bill makes me remember my father lost to an on track incident at Limerock Park in 1963. It appears that my father and Bill may have shared some asphalt. They were of the approximate same age, both attended Yale, and both shared a passion for racing. My father, Lee Baker, was the flag marshall for the SCCA New York region when he passed.
I was but 3 years old at the time and therefore never really knew my father. My mother remarried 2 years later and never discussed the incident on track or virually any part of my fathers storied life. How nice it would be to meet up with someone that knew him to listen to a story or 2. I've tried with Sam Posey, Skip Barber, and Jim Haynes but none recall him.
With Bill's passing, it occurs to me that I have potentially missed another opportunity to learn something of my father. I wonder if others on this forum may have some recolllection of the times spent at Watkins Glen, Bridgehampton, or Limerock back in the early 60's.
Bill, Rest In Peace with the knowledge that your life touched so many
RIP, Bill Scott
@ Lane - what a moving story, thanks for sharing. I hope you do get to speak to somebody who might have known your father. I can imagine you would have lots of questions to ask.....
my dad was a long time corner worker (flag man) at summit point. I have fond memories of spending the weekends up there in the 70's. As a kid, i worked timing and scoring. with a stop watch and a pencil. remember a gentleman by the name of newman racing up there in the day. anyway, my tenure pre-dates bill scott's ownership. RIP bill scott.
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Lane, my dad ran Limerock, Bridgehampton and Bryar in the early 60s - possibly 63-64. I'll ask him if he remembers.
Here's some detail that may help jog a memory. Presented to my father immediately prior to the fateful incident on July 3rd. It hangs proudly in my office as one of the very few momento's I have.
Lane, Were you at Lime Rock this year for the Vintage races? My guess would be some of the guys up for that race would have known him. Was he driving at the time of the incident or on a flag station? I passed your info on to some of the guys I know that have been around a long time.
Taking it to a new thread in the drivers lounge of the respect for Bill Scott's memory.
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