Nascar has a rich history full of personalities, high speed and cool cars. Take a look back to the sights and scenes of years gone by.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mr. Leadfoot

If he could find a piece of straight highway one hundred miles long with his foot to the floor ....this would almost be heaven. Any turns on this road would be an inconvenience unless they are banked at 33 degrees.

Born in Florence, South Carolina, 1941 Elzie Wylie Baker Jr. is one of the fastest men in the history of Nascar. Buddy could not be more different than his father Buck, who was one of the toughest competitors ever in stock car racing. Buck made his living banging fenders and pounding the short tracks. Buddy is happy with himself and his accomplishments while never being concerned about living in his fathers shadow.

Buddy Baker was only concerned about one thing and that was going fast and he was pretty good at it. Baker was a part of racing when the Superspeedways became what made Nascar truly special and unique. From 1959 to 1969 the Big Tracks sprouted up across the country from Daytona to Michigan and from Atlanta to Charlotte.

This was Buddy Baker's playground and play he did. Baker is one of only eight men who have won Nascar's Grand Slam by taking victories at the Daytona 500, the Talladega 500, the World 600 and the Southern 500 at Darlington. He is also the first man to record a lap of 200mph on a closed course at Talladega in 1970.

Short tracks were never really Baker's cup of tea even though he did win two of them. The first was at Nashville in 1973 with Buddy covering the field by four laps. The second was at Martinsville in 1979. One can only imagine Buddy's crew talking with him about how to drive Martinsville, or maybe they just put a block of wood under the gas pedal so Buddy's big foot would not be able to bend the floor board.

Baker's exploits and frustrations at Daytona are well known, as for years his efforts were met with frustration, blown engines and just getting beat. It all came together for Buddy at Daytona in 1980. Waddell Wilson and his crew put a major effort into the body of Baker's Harry Ranier owned Oldsmobile in preperation for the upcoming Daytona 500.

Those efforts paid off as Buddy had a nearly perfect run in the Daytona 500 and was in a class of his own leading 143 laps with an average speed above 177 mph which is still a record. Wilson spent $75,000 on the body of this super slick car just to win Daytona. They did not give the bill to Harry Ranier until after winning the race.

Buddy's career record is not that impressive but when it came to the big tracks none were better. Baker also was fortunate enough to drive for some of the best car owners in the history of Nascar including Ray Fox, Cotton Owens, Richard Petty, Bud Moore, the Wood Brothers and others. His warm personality, persistance and a heavy foot puts him among the all time greats in racing.

While Buddy was driving home late in the evening after winning Daytona he was still seeing that long straight highway and was pulled over for going too fast. After speaking with the officer the only thing Buddy signed was an autograph.

Nothing was too fast for Buddy Baker

1 comment:

  1. I love that story of how he signed his autograph instead of getting a ticket...if only I could pull that off!!


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Walkersville, Maryland, United States
I live north of Washington D.C. with my wife in Walkesville Maryland. My interests include classic rock music, blues and playing guitar. My passion is anything related to Nascar history.

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