“My youngest memory is, cause I lived on a farm, so my youngest memory was in a Go-Kart, and it was yellow, and the chain always fell off, that’s the only thing I remember. Then I did my first race when I was eight, and I just kept going. I came from a traditional middle-class family, so I didn’t foresee being able to make this into a career.”
It was 1968, in Loni, California, just 50 miles south of his hometown of Roseville, California, where Pruett first took the green flag, in his first ever go-kart race. Now, 50 years later, Pruett has officially ran his last lap under green in competition.
“I’ve been very fortunate, where 50 years later, I’m getting out on my terms. I think a lot of people don’t realize is the fact that the majority of contracts we have are one year. So, at the end of every season, you’re worried about your next contract. And if you’ve done a good job, and you’ve won races and you’ve won a championship or certainly shown well, you’ll continue to get contracts. And if you’re not getting the job done, you’re out the door. So I figured at this point, I’m better to get out the door before I’m asked out the door.”
In his final race, Pruett started the race at the wheel for the No. 15 Lexus GT Racing team at Daytona International Speedway. He decided to make his final career start in the Rolex 24, a race where he has seen his most success over the years and is tied with Hurley Haywood for overall wins at 5. However, he is all alone in total class wins in the race with 10.
“When you look at North America, there are these iconic racetracks, and those Iconic race tracks Indianapolis, Daytona they would be at the top of the list. And then if you are fortunate enough to have great success, which I have had so great success here 5 overall wins, 10 wins in class. Just the sheer magnitude of this race and its SportsCars Super Bowl. It’s our Super Bowl. This is our biggest race. Every driver globally wants to come here and be a part of this even, the Rolex 24. So I figured, you know, there’s no place better.”
He would drive most of his stints in hours through the night, memories that he is sure to cherish for many years to come.
Issues would arise for the No. 15 Lexus, so they would make a change of plans after Pruett was originally scheduled to get one last afternoon session in the final hours of the Rolex 24. His final ride would come in the early morning hours as the sun was rising at Daytona International Speedway.
Having seen his final time in the car, things seemed pretty normal for Pruett. However, he was pretty sure that as the season went on, and the days following after the race he would start to feel the retirement.
“For me up until now its been business as usual. All the training and all preparation, typically everything that I have done for getting here the last 10, 15 years hasn’t changed. Now, what changes is Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday,” said a chuckling Pruett.
Now that this chapter of the dream is over, Pruett looks forward to continuing his community outreach and, making an impact in as many peoples lives that he can.
Pruett has always took the time to sign every autograph he could, grant every “Make-a-Wish” he had an opportunity to, and call out to his family every time meeting with the media, expressing his love and appreciation of their support of his dreams.
“Continuing to be in and around and being able to do more. Because right now, your time is just so limited, being able to do more stuff on charities whether its Make-a-Wish, Give Kids the World, March of Dimes, there’s a number of things that we do. I think, for my wife and I, probably closest to our heart is Make-a-Wish. Seeing the kids and visiting them, whether it’s going to hospitals or whether they’ve come to the race tracks. It puts into perspective what heroes they truly are.”
On the home front, he turns from racing to his entrepreneurial side. Fist in the early 2000’s, Scott and his wife Judy published a few children’s books that were based on Scott’s racing career. Now another passion over the last several years has indulged the Pruett’s passion, wine.
“Not only have we done children books, we’ve ventured into wine. So we have Pruett Vineyard, we figured, we’ve done something for kids, now we want to do something for Adults. I do all the winemaking; I didn’t want to just put my name on it and not be involved. I did all the ripping and clearing; I’m out in the vineyard, I do all the winemaking. Our 2012, and 2014 vineyards, by Wine Spectator, our vineyard was rated the number one Syrah in the world, so it’s actually turned out pretty good.”
It was a dream of Scott, and Judy’s to open the winery. So in 2005, after having moved from Oregon the previous year, back to Pruett’s hometown of Roseville, they got started. Scott ripped and cleared the land. He planted the fruit to bear, taking it one day at a time putting in the necessary work, just like his racing career. The family touch is well imbedded into their wine business at Pruett Vineyard.
“We have Lucky Lauren Red, a Cabernet-Syrah blend. CSP Estate Syrah is named for my son Cameron Scott Pruett,” he said, and the reserve Syrah is called Taylor’s Reserve after their youngest daughter. “And then in celebration of all the championships I’ve won over the years, we have Championship Cuvée Estate Syrah,” Pruett said in a 2015 interview with Irene Virbla of the LA Times.
In the small time of their being open, already twice was the Pruett’s Syrah ranked No. 1 in the world by Wine Review. For those of you not keen in the wine field, Syrah is a red wine made from Syrah grapes, which originated from the Rhone Valley in France, and are the most widely harvested in California.
However, just because Scott will be enjoying more time with his family and growing the family Wine business, do not expect to see Scott’s presence from the track to become a thing of the past. Pruett just recently signed a 3-year extension with Lexus that goes through 2021.
“First with family. We all spend so much time on the road. We miss a lot of stuff with family. So spending time with my family, I’ve extended my relationship with Lexus, so I’ll be doing different ride and drives, dealer events, hopefully, keep driving high-performance cars so I can keep my adrenaline rush going. Just going to try to blend those things and slow down a bit.”
Pruett has been with Lexus/Toyota since 1999 and in some way’s they are like family to him. He believe’s this partnership will go well into the future.
“I do. You know, we’ve done so many great things together. My first year with Toyota was in 99. And then I was with Lexus for their initial visit to IMSA from 2004 to 2009, the longest contracts they can do are three years. So I don’t know see any reason why I would change. It’s a great company, between Lexus and Toyota, I know they are going to keep me busy, and I’m going to have a lot of fun.”
In his time in the industry, Pruett raced in every American Circut that you could think or, Open Wheel, Stock, and Sports Cars. He has won the Rolex 24 in class 10 times. 60 times overall Pruett spent in victory lane. A number unmatched by any driver with that type of versatility in the sport. In total, Pruett has won eleven American Sports Car Championship’s, with his first coming back in 1986 in IMSA GTO, and his most recent being in 2012 in Grand-am. Now, he gets to bow out on his own terms, something a lot of athletes don’t get the pleasure of doing.
After finishing up final duties in the media center ahead of the end of the race, Pruett went back over to the team stall on pit road.
As the final lap concluded after the 24 hour Rolex Clock in the pits at Daytona hit 0:00 and the checkered flag flew, Pruett looked at the photographers outside his pit stalls and gave a thumbs up. He was then embraced by family around, Scott’s number one passion.
Happiness, sadness, relief, jubilation, exhaustion, embrace, humbleness. Just a few emotions that Scott and his family must have been feeling as the final checkered flag of his career flew.
So cheers to a living legend, a man that we could all aspire to be more like. To the best, we wish him in the wine business and any other venture that Scott may indulge in. We all know whatever it may be, it will be true, it will be pure, and it will be done with the right purpose.