Cup Champion 1956 and 1957
March 4, 1919 – April 14, 2002
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker was one of the most dominant drivers in NASCAR during the 1950s. He quickly rose to the top by becoming the first driver to win consecutive Sprint Cup Championships in 1956 and 1957. Baker also had two runner-up seasons in 1955 and 1958.
His strategy was a mixture of determination and the belief that he was capable of winning any race. It didn’t hurt that Baker had a natural talent that cannot be taught.
“You can’t let anyone think you’re not going to win a race,” he said during the interview. “If you talk yourself out of believing you are a winner, then you might as well stay in the pits and let someone else do the driving.
“There were times we left home without money to buy new tires. We didn’t know where the money was coming from. Heck, there’s times we didn’t have money to put gas in the truck to get to the track.
“But someone always came through for what we needed. We always could have used more and better equipment, but I’m talking about don’t let yourself believe you can’t be a winner.”
Baker was known as a hard charger both on and off the track. His competitors knew that too much beating and banging on the track would be dealt with in the pits after the race.
“My dad won his share of races on the track,” said Baker’s son, Buddy, “but I don’t think he ever lost a battle in the pits.”
Baker’s first championship was won while driving for Carl Kiekhaefer, owner of the first mulit-car team in NASCAR. His second championship was won while driving his own cars.
In 636 starts, he won 46 times including three wins at the historic Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway. Baker’s career victory total of 46 ranks 15th all-time.
Baker was also known as one of the most versatile racers of his time. He won races in NASCAR’s Modified, Speedway and Grand American series.
After retiring from NASCAR, he opened the Buck Baker Driving School in 1980. Many of today’s top drivers have attended his school including Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Ward Burton and Tony Stewart.
In 1998 Buck Baker was named as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers and in 2013 he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 83.
Buddy Baker is proud of the talent and tenacity that his father demonstrated in racing and in life.
“He could do things in a race car I could only dream about,” he said. “Throughout the entire racing world, I don’t know of anybody who would have said he didn’t give 110% from the time they dropped the green flag until the race was over. He was the same way in life, too.”
1982 – Inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame
1990 – Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
1998 – Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
1998 – Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers
2010 – Nominee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame
2011 – Nominee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame
2012 – Nominee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame
2013 – Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame