A pioneer of Blacks on the racetrack, Wiggins fought racial segregation in the sport in the early 1900s. Repeatedly denied from the Indianapolis 500, Wiggins and other Black drivers formed their own racing association and competed among themselves. Dubbed "The Negro Speed King," Charlie won three of the first six races of the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, an annual 100-mile speed race for Black driver. A skilled mechanic, Wiggins was asked by â€œWild Billâ€ Cummings, a top White AAA competitor, to serve in his pit crew for the Indianapolis 500. Due to the Racewayâ€™s strict rules of segregation, he was officially hired as a janitor, while secretly tuning up Cummingsâ€™ car for the race, which he won.
During the 1936 Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, Charlie was involved in a 13-car wreck that resulted in his right leg being amputatedâ€”abruptly ending his racing career, as well as the future of the all-Black event, which lost its biggest star. Despite his injury Wiggins continued to fight the segregationist practices of the American Automobile Association while also training young Black mechanics until his death in 1979 at the age of 82.