Remembering Buddy Baker:
A legend and voice
Photo by Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images
Buddy Baker signs autographs for fans at Darlington Raceway in August 2008.
By Jonathan Fjeld
August 14, 2015
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
Earlier this week, the NASCAR community lost Buddy Baker, a great sports icon and a legendary NASCAR driver. Baker lost his battle with lung cancer on August 10th in the early morning hours. He was 74.
When you look back
on the life Baker lived, however, one would not say he lost any battle at all,
and lived a life full of many things that left a lasting mark on many people,
Baker was a co-host of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's Tradin' Paint for many years, and each day with the show's call-in format, he interacted with many fans.
I was one of those who called in, and each time I did, I was met with nothing but great sincerity and admiration for my fandom from Baker. Being just 11-years-old when I first called in, Baker especially noted and appreciated the fact that NASCAR had young fans around to show that the future of the sport is shining bright.
Baker's admiration he had for younger fans and other people looking to get into the sport made him resonate with many people. Along with that, Baker's achievements also helped him to resonate even more with drivers, like Ryan Newman, when they came to ask for help.
Below are some of the accomplishments from his announcing and driving careers in NASCAR that spanned over four decades:
Photo by NASCAR Media/ISC Archives
* Winner of 19 Career NASCAR Cup Series races, including the Big Four NASCAR races (Southern 500, Daytona 500, Coca Cola 600, Winston 500)
* First to break the 200 mph barrier on a closed course at Talladega Superspeedway
* Winner of the 1980 Daytona 500 with a record setting pace of a 177.602 MPH average speed, a record that still stands today
* Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997
* Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998
Baker will be missed by many for all he did for NASCAR and motorsports in general. To me, the comments he made in his final radio appearance said it best, “Do not shed a tear. Give a smile when you say my name. I'm not saying goodbye. Just talk to you later.”