Thursday, April 12, 2012

NASCAR Hall Of Fame Profile: Buck Baker

BUCK BAKER – Driver (b. 3/4/19 – d. 4/14/02)
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Competed: 1949-76
Starts: 636
Wins: 46
Poles: 45

Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker established himself as one of NASCAR’s early greats, becoming the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR premier series championships. That repeat performance in 1956-57 was the meat of an incredible four-year span; in 1955 and ’58 Baker finished as the series championship runner-up.

The first series championship for Baker came while driving for owner Carl Kiekhaefer, who had assembled the first multi-car team in NASCAR while also blazing a trail in using his cars as promotional tools for his other business, powerboat motors. Baker’s second championship came in his own cars.

Baker drove a bus before becoming an auto racer – perhaps a partial explanation for his versatility behind the wheel, as he also won races in NASCAR’s Modified, Speedway and Grand American series. But his legend was made in NASCAR’s premier series; his career victory total of 46 ranks tied for 14th all-time.

Baker was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Prior to his passing in 2002, Baker blazed another trail, founding a series of high-performance driving schools at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and North Carolina Speedway.

His son Buddy followed his father’s footsteps as well, winning the Daytona 500 and also making the 50 Greatest Drivers list.

This is the first in a series of biographies profiling the 25 nominees for the 2012 class of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Each of the 25 candidates will be profiled in the coming weeks, in alphabetical order.

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