- July 22, 1970
- New Zealand
- Australian Gt Championship
Craig Baird is a racing driver from New Zealand who is active for more than thirty years, recording more than thousand race starts in that period and winning more than two hundred races. For his achievements in motorsport, he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit.
The list of his championship titles is very long, starting with NZ Formula Ford Championship in 1988 to most recent one, the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia in 2013. Between those two triumphs, he collected almost thirty championship titles and trophies.
A long list of championship titles and other trophies
He is the most successful driver in the history of the Australian Carrera Cup with five titles. In his home country, he won Porsche GT3 Championship six times, NZ Touring Car Championship four times and NZ Formula Pacific three times.
In the Australian Touring Car Championship or Supercars Championship, he served mostly as endurance co-driver, recording twenty starts at Bathurst 1000. His best result was the fourth place in 1997. Baird also participated ten times at Bathurst 12 Hour, winning the race in 2007 and adding four more overall podiums.
Outside New Zealand or Australia, he spent one season in the British Touring Car Championship in 1998, driving a Ford Mondeo but without any success.
He currently competes in the Australian GT Championship with Scott Taylor Motorsport's Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Four championship titles in junior formula championships
Born in July 1970 in Hamilton, Craig Baird started his racing career in 1985 in New Zealand's Formula Ford Championship. The first success came in the third season of racing (1987-1988) when Baird clinched championship title.
In 1989, he entered the Formula Pacific Championship and won three consecutive championship titles from 1991 to 1993. In 1992, he also raced in the British Formula 2 with Graham Lorrimer Motorsport but without any success.
Touring car racing debut in 1990
While participating in open-wheel competitions, Baird made touring car racing debut in 1990 at Wellington 500 and Pukekohe 500 races, driving a BMW E30 M3 for Bill Bryce Racing. He finished third at Pukekohe.
He participated in the same two races three years later, driving a BMW E36 325i for BMW Team New Zealand. He was fifth at Wellington street circuit and seventh at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
New Zealand's champion made Bathurst 1000 debut in 1994
Baird won his first touring car title in the 1993-1994 New Zealand Touring Car Championship, driving a BMW 325i.
In October 1994, New Zealand's touring car champion made a debut in the greatest Australian race, the Bathurst 1000, driving for Paul Morris Motorsport. He was sharing the #45 Diet Coke Racing BMW 318i with Brett Riley, finishing 11th overall and second in Class B.
Four-time NZ touring car champion
In the following years, from 1995 to 1997, Baird added three more consecutive New Zealand Touring Car Championship titles to his account, driving BMWs in all three seasons (325i or 320i).
In that period, he also raced in the 1996 South African Touring Car Championship, finishing 8th in a BMW 318is, and occasionally in Australia.
Disqualification from victory at Mount Panorama
In 1997, due to a controversial split between the organizers, there were two 1000 km races at Mount Panorama and Baird participated in both. On October 5, he and Paul Morris crossed the finish line as the provisional winners in the #2 BMW 320i but they were later disqualified due to a breach of a regulation which limits a maximum of three hours of continuous driving. Their teammates in the #1 BMW Geoff Brabham and David Brabham inherited a victory.
Two weeks later, Baird was sharing the #18 Dick Johnson Racing's Ford Falcon with Steven Johnson at Primus 1000 Classic race. They finished in the fourth place, what remained Baird's career-best result in Mount Panorama's 1000km races.
A season with Ford Mondeo in the BTCC
After winning four touring car titles in New Zealand, Baird expanded his racing activities to another territories, participating in two rounds of the 1997 Australian Super Touring Championship, racing with Chevrolet Camaro in the 1997-1998 TraNZam Championship, making two starts in the 1998 US Road Racing Championship with Lister Storm and then moving to the UK to participate full season in the 1998 British Touring Car Championship.
He was driving the #33 Ford Mondeo for West Surrey Racing-operated Ford Mondeo Racing team, alongside Will Hoy as his teammate. He was replaced by F1 champion Nigel Mansell in three rounds. Baird reached points in just two races, finishing 20th in the final standings.
2000 – the first full season in the V8 Supercars Championship
Back in New Zealand, Baird competed in the 1998-1999 TraNZam Championship with Chevrolet Camaro and finished second in the points. In 1999, he reappeared at Bathurst 1000 as Jason Bright's co-driver in the #4 Stone Brothers Racing's Ford Falcon. They didn't finish the race. In the season 1999-2000, Baird won TraNZam title.
In 2000, Baird finally secured a full-time seat in the V8 Supercars Championship (Shell Championship Series), driving the #4 Ford AU Falcon for Stone Brothers Racing. He was a race winner once, at Phillip Island, finishing 15th in the points. His endurance co-driver was Simon Wills, they finished 7th at Bathurst 1000.
2002 Supercars season with Rod Nash Racing
In 2001, Baird left Shell Championship Series, driving only as an endurance driver in two events with John Faulkner Racing and Prancing Horse Racing. His main job was to drive Ferrari 360 Modena or Ford Mustang Cobra for Prancing Horse Racing in Australian GT events.
In 2002, Baird returned full-time to the V8 Supercars Championship, driving the #54 Holden VX Commodore for Rod Nash Racing. Without wins or podiums, he was 27th in the points. At Bathurst 1000, he joined legendary Peter Brock in the #05 Holden, finishing 23rd.
Two Supercars seasons with Team Kiwi Racing
In 2003, Baird stayed in the Supercars Championship but moved into a cockpit of the #021 Holden VX Commodore of Team Kiwi Racing. He was 30th in the points at the end of the season. He spent one more year with the same team in the championship, ending the season in the 27th place in 2004.
His endurance co-driver was Mark Porter. They were 17th at Bathurst 1000 in 2003 and didn't finish the race in 2004.
First championship title with Porsche in 2005
Parallel to his Supercars commitments, Baird entered Porsche one-make cup for the first time in 2003, racing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Trans-Tasman and finishing third in the points. In 2004, he also made a debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, scoring one victory with Team VIPPetfoods to finish 13th in the points.
In the season 2004-2005, Baird won New Zealand's Porsche GT3 Cup for the first time after winning 14 of 23 races during the season. It was his first of nine titles which he won in Porsche one-make competitions.
2005 – the last full season in Supercars
In 2005, Baird raced in the V8 Supercars Championship with WPS Racing, driving the #8 Ford BA Falcon. It was his last full season in Supercars and he finished it in the 23rd place. He and David Besnard finished 8th at Bathurst 1000 in the #48 Ford.
Next year, Baird returned to Bathurst with WPS Racing but as an endurance co-driver to regular driver Jason Bargwanna. They finished tenth.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australian champion for the first time in 2006
In the same year, Baird won his second Porsche GT3 Cup title in New Zealand, scoring six wins with International Motorsports. In 2006, he also participated at 24 Hours of Nurburgring in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, finishing 6th in SP7 class.
Victory at Bathurst 12 Hours in 2007
In 2007, Baird repeated a success in New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup, winning the title for the third year in a row. In the Australian Carrera Cup, he finished third, behind David Reynolds and Alex Davison.
The highlight of the season was a victory at Bathurst 12 Hour race. It was the first 12-hour event at Mount Panorama since 1994 and Baird claimed the victory in the #20 BMW 335i, sharing a car with Garry Holt and Paul Morris. In that year's Bathurst 1000, Baird was a co-driver to Paul Radisich in HDT's #16 Holden Commodore, not finishing the race.
Double Porsche Cup champion in 2008
In 2008, Baird has won both Porsche one-make competitions he entered. At New Zealand, he won the fourth title with fourteen wins in eighteen races. In the Australian Carrera Cup, he was driving for Fitzgerald Racing and scored fourteen wins, beating Dean Fiore in the championship fight.
Outside Porsche Cups, Baird finished third at Bathurst 12 Hour in a BMW 335i, didn't finish Bathurst 1000 in HRT's #2 Holden Commodore and raced in a Porsche at Nurburgring 24h and Spa 24h.
Two more titles in New Zealand's Porsche Cup
There were no Australian Carrera Cup in 2009 and 2010 but Baird continued to race in New Zealand's Porsche GT3 Cup, taking two more titles in those two seasons with XXX Motorsport. He won twelve races in season 2008/2009 season and then five more in season 2009/2010.
In the same season (2009/2010), Baird also takes the championship title in New Zealand's BNT V8s Championship, after finishing third the year earlier.
He was also successful outside New Zealand, finished third in the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia with two wins.
Three in a row Carrera Cup titles from 2011 to 2013
In 2011, the Carrera Cup Australia has been revived and Craig Baird took his third championship title in the series. He was driving the #1 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for Dutton Insurance Racing, winning seven races. In 2011, he finished second in New Zealand's Porsche GT3 Cup, losing a title to Daniel Gaunt, and also second in BNT V8s, losing a title to John McIntyre.
In 2012 Australian Carrera Cup, Baird won ten races in the #1 Porsche, securing his fourth title. The fifth and final Carrera Cup championship trophy came in 2013 when he won eight races in the #1 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.
Successful racing attempts with Ferrari and Mercedes
In 2013, Baird scored his second in a row podium at Bathurst 12 Hour with Clearwater Racing's Ferrari 458 GT3, won the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race with the same car but also races in a Mercedes in the V8 Supercars Championship.
He was an endurance co-driver to Lee Holdsworth in the #4 Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, finishing fourth at Sandown, 14th at Bathurst and fifth at Surfers Paradise. Baird was also driving Erebus Motorsport's Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in Adelaide's round of the Australian GT Championship, winning both races.
Variety of racing competitions
In 2014, Baird failed to defend his championship title in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia. He won four races in the #1 Porsche but finished third in the points, behind Steve Richards and Warren Luff.
That year, Baird recorded appearances in many other competitions, such were GT Asia, Australian GT Championship, V8 Supercars Championship or NZ Endurance Championship.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia runner-up in 2015
Baird stayed Carrera Cup specialist in 2015, spending full season both in the Australian Carrera Cup and Asian Carrera Cup. In Australian, he was fifth, without scoring wins. In Asian Carrera Cup, he won two races in Clearwater Racing's car to finish second in the points, behind Chris van der Drift.
In 2015, Baird skipped Australian V8 Supercars but raced in New Zealand's V8 Championship with Team Kiwi Racing, finishing in the seventh place.
Australian GT vice-champion in 2016
Baird left Porsche competitions in 2016 to focus on the Australian GT Championship with Scott Taylor Motorsport, driving the #222 Mercedes-AMG GT3. He won three races and became a vice-champion, losing a title to Klark Quinn.
In the V8 Supercars Championship, Baird was an endurance co-driver to David Reynolds in Erebus Motorsport's #9 Holden and drove one round by himself in the #8 Holden. At Bathurst 1000, he and Reynolds finished 18th. Up to date, it was Baird's last appearance at Bathurst 1000.
Racing in a Mercedes in 2017, 2018
Baird stayed in STM Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2017, retiring at Bathurst 12 Hour and scoring no wins in the Australian GT Championship or Australian Endurance Championship.
He returned to the top podium spot in 2018, winning two races of the Australian GT Championship in the season-opening round at Albert Park, together with Scott Taylor in the #222 Mercedes-AMG GT3.