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Elzie Wylie "Buddy" Baker. Jr.
Born: January 25, 1941     Died: August 10. 2015 (Age 74)
Home: Charlotte, NC

Buddy Baker, NASCAR's 'Gentle Giant,' dies at 74


NASCAR has lost one of its greats.

Buddy Baker, who announced last month he had inoperable lung cancer, died early Monday morning at 74.

Baker, known as NASCAR's 'Gentle Giant' as he towered over most of his competitors at 6-foot-6, won the 1980 Daytona 500, was a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee and was named one of its 50 greatest drivers in 1998.

SiriusXM NASCAR Radio announced his death. Baker left his co-host slot on ''The Late Shift'' just last month after announcing he had a ''huge tumor'' in his lung.

"Do not shed a tear. Give a smile when you say my name. I'm not saying goodbye. Just talk to you later," Baker said as he signed off.

Baker followed in the footsteps of his father, two-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker, who was inducted in 2013. The young Baker debuted in NASCAR's premier Cup series in 1959 at age 18 and competed in 700 races - winning 19 -- before retiring from the sport after the 1992 season.

Among his wins were notable trips to victory lane in the 1980 Daytona 500, the 1970 Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in 1968, 1972 and 1973.

In a statement, NASCAR chairman Brian France said: “Many of today’s fans may know Buddy Baker as one of the greatest storytellers in the sport’s history, a unique skill that endeared him to millions. But those who witnessed his racing talent recognized Buddy as a fast and fierce competitor, setting speed records and winning on NASCAR’s biggest stages. It is that dual role that made Buddy an absolute treasure who will be missed dearly.”

Baker enjoyed the superspeedways most, becoming the first driver to exceed 200 mph on a closed course - at Talladega Superspeedway in 1970. He won at NASCAR's largest venue four times and his fearless style at top speeds earned him another moniker: "Leadfoot." He ranks 14th with 38 poles, and also amassed 202 top-fives and 311 top-10s.

Baker raced for Petty Enterprises in 1971 and 1972, notching a win in each season.

Seven-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Richard Petty said in a statement: "Buddy was always wide open and that's the way he raced and lived his life.  He was always full of energy.  He was a person you wanted to be around because he always made you feel better.  He raced with us, shared his stories with us and became our friend.  Buddy loved the sport and he made a lasting impression on the sport on the track, in the television booth and on the radio. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Baker family at this time."

Michigan International Speedway track president Roger Curtis said via release: “I’ll miss Buddy. I’ll always remember how talented he was as a race car driver, and how he had a wonderful presence at the track. ... But he also loved the people. I think that’s why he told such wonderful stories – because he loved people who loved NASCAR.”

So it seemed natural when Baker's post-race work took him to the broadcast booth, where he started at The Nashville Network, then moved to CBS and eventually landed at SiriusXM when the station started a NASCAR channel in 2007.

The company remembered Baker on Monday as ''one of the anchors of the channel. ... He brought a wonderfully engaging personality to the airwaves and his storytelling ability made his show a joy to listen to.  As one of NASCAR’s great competitors, he generously shared a wealth of knowledge – developed over many decades in the sport – with our listeners.  He is greatly missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

During Baker's final broadcast, which lasted about 40 minutes, he told listeners: "I just want to say goodbye to everyone. Thanks for being a friend."

In 1998, NASCAR honored Baker as one of the Top 50 Drivers of all time.

       USA TODAY Sports               



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Buddy Baker Grand National & Winston Cup Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn DNQ
1959 18 12 of 44 0 1 5 0 1639 0 1,705 26 18.2 15.4  
1960 19 15 of 44 0 0 1 0 2149 0 1,745 38 21.2 18.9 2
1961 20 14 of 52 0 1 3 0 2370 0 4,965 39 18.2 18.6 1
1962 21 31 of 53 0 5 10 0 5454 0 7,578 23 16.8 15.2  
1963 22 8 of 55 0 1 2 0 1478 0 2,665 52 25.1 21.0  
1964 23 33 of 62 0 3 7 0 3239 0 8,460 31 16.9 18.5  
1965 24 42 of 55 0 12 17 0 6969 0 26,836 9 13.7 14.1  
1966 25 41 of 49 0 1 7 1 6361 142 21,335 22 13.0 19.4  
1967 26 21 of 49 1 6 7 0 4146 480 46,949 15 7.0 14.7  
1968 27 38 of 49 1 16 18 4 7949 564 56,023 13 6.7 14.7  
1969 28 18 of 54 0 9 11 2 4181 767 63,525 22 6.9 13.9 1
1970 29 18 of 48 1 6 8 0 3612 485 63,778 24 6.4 14.1  
1971 30 19 of 48 1 13 16 1 4814 726 115,150 15 4.7 7.1  
1972 31 17 of 31 2 8 9 1 4641 594 103,140 24 5.6 12.9  
1973 32 27 of 28 2 16 20 5 8369 975 190,531 6 7.6 11.1  
1974 33 19 of 30 0 11 12 2 4346 381 151,025 7 5.2 13.3  
1975 34 23 of 30 4 12 13 3 6281 788 236,351 15 4.2 11.3  
1976 35 30 of 30 1 16 16 2 7335 1028 239,921 7 4.5 15.5  
1977 36 30 of 30 0 9 20 0 8084 52 224,847 5 8.8 12.1  
1978 37 19 of 30 0 4 8 1 4319 354 111,765 24 9.4 19.0  
1979 38 26 of 31 3 12 15 7 6107 1083 342,147 15 4.8 16.1  
1980 39 19 of 31 2 10 12 6 5042 671 275,200 21 3.6 12.5  
1981 40 16 of 31 0 6 9 0 3562 110 115,095 27 11.4 15.4  
1982 41 23 of 30 0 4 11 1 5672 103 253,675 23 10.6 16.5  
1983 42 21 of 30 1 5 12 1 5111 174 216,355 21 10.6 14.8 0
1984 43 21 of 30 0 4 12 1 6213 84 151,635 21 11.9 16.3 0
1985 44 28 of 28 0 2 7 0 6296 4 235,479 17 20.0 19.3 0
1986 45 17 of 29 0 6 6 0 3964 45 138,600 24 14.4 18.2 0
1987 46 20 of 29 0 3 10 0 4509 91 255,320 24 15.8 16.2 0
1988 47 17 of 29 0 0 7 0 4445 42 184,200 29 23.3 15.1 0
1990 49 8 of 29 0 0 0 0 1326 1 40,085 41 29.5 29.6 0
1991 50 6 of 29 0 0 0 0 845 0 58,060 40 26.0 23.7 2
1992 51 3 of 29 0 0 0 0 547 0 49,500 48 32.3 26.0 2
1993 52 0 of 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0     ? 1
1994 53 0 of 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0     ? 2
35 years 700 19 202 311 38 151375 9744 3,993,645   11.5 15.6 11

More Statistics at Racing-Reference.info






 

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