Buck Baker was one of those drivers who began to write the history of NASCAR and at the same time, one of those who made this racing series so popular. He was described by many journalists and former racing stars as one of the best and toughest racers in the history of NASCAR.
City bus driver and moonshine hauler
Elzie Wylie Baker, which was Buck’s full name, was born in Richburg, South Carolina, on 4th of March 1919. His first race was in Greenville and that was a small local race. After discharge from the US Navy, without prospects of finding a proper job, Baker hauled alcohol effectively, polishing the skills he’d need on the track. He also worked as a city bus chauffeur and at the same time competed regularly, winning hundreds of modified stock car races in Charlotte.
Buck Baker's Oldsmobile
NASCAR debut in 1949
For the real racing experience Baker had to wait until 1949 when he entered his first NASCAR race in Charlotte. During his NASCAR career, he competed in only what is now known as Sprint Cup Series, establishing himself as one of the most prominent pilots of that time and setting many records.
Four brilliant years
In 1955, Buck Baker finished the season as a runner-up, but in 1956, driving a Chrysler, he won his first NASCAR title. In 1957, behind the wheel of a Chevrolet, he became the first back-to-back NASCAR winner and almost won the title for the third time in a row in 1958, but he could not defend his crown and finished as a runner-up for the second time. His final victory came at the age of 44 in the 1964 Southern 500, driving a Dodge fielded by NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Ray Fox.
Buck Baker's 1957 NASCAR title-winning Chevrolet
Baker was one of the best in NASCAR
During his glorious NASCAR career, Buck Baker had 682 starts, which ranked him third of all-time, and 45 of them were from pole position. The number of 46 race wins ranks Baker 13th overall in NASCAR history, and he also achieved an incredible number of 372 top 10 finishes.
NASCAR Hall of Fame member
After retiring in 1976, he opened the Buck Baker Racing School at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, where another NASCAR great Jeff Gordon drove his first stock car. In 1982, Buck Baker was introduced into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame; in 1990, he was introduced in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and finally in 1998 in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Buck Baker joined the NASCAR Hall fame in 2013.
Buck Baker died on 14th of April, 2002, in Charlotte. Buck’s son Buddy was also a successful NASCAR driver, and before becoming a TV commentator, he won 19 Winston Cup races. His other son Randy also competed in Winston Cup series.
Lived and raced in the same way
“He could do unbelievable things in a race car I could only dream about. Throughout the entire racing world, I do not know of anybody who would have said he did not give his maximum from the time they dropped the green flag until the end of the race. He lived his life in the same way, too,” Buddy Baker proudly said once about his father.