Born: January 25, 1941
Home: Florence, SC
At 6feet, 6 inches, Buddy Baker, nicknamed “Leadfoot”, was known for his record setting speed during his 34 year Winston Cup career. The son of racing legend Buck Baker, Buddy is regarded in stock car circles as the fastest of all top drivers. At Talledega in 1970, Buddy became the first driver to race over 200 mph on a closed course. At the 1980 Daytona 500, Buddy took the checkered flag with an average speed of 177.6 mph, a record that still stands.
Along with his remarkable single race performances, Buddy enjoyed one of the most elite careers in the history of racing. In all, Buddy won 19 times in his career in NASCAR, with 17 on major speedways. He ranks ninth on NASCAR’s all time list for top five finishes with 202 and top 10 finishes with 311 (out of 688 starts). Buddy was inducted into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Court of Legends in 1995 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Since retiring from racing, Buddy established himself as one of the preeminent television commentators in the business. He was one of the greatest storytellers in the sport’s history, a unique skill that endeared him to millions. He remained involved in the sport, working racing telecasts for TNN and co hosting a radio show two nights a week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. For this, Baker was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1997.
On July 7, 2015, Buddy announced that he had lung cancer and would be immediately leaving the network. On his final radio appearance Baker said, “Do not shed a tear. Give me a smile when you say my name. I’m not saying goodbye. Just talk to you later.” Buddy passed away on August 10, 2015 after his brief battle with cancer.
“I’m right with the Man Upstairs,” Baker told the Charlotte Observer in a July 27 story. “If I feared death, I never would have driven a race car.” Buddy Baker will be missed dearly by his family, his friends, and his millions of fans.