Today is a sad day in the racing world.
One of the greats, the lead-footed Buddy Baker, died on Monday morning of lung cancer. He was 74-years-old.
Baker was the son of racer Buck Baker, and was known for his record-breaking race at the 1980 Daytona 500, in which he averaged 177.6 miles per hour and took first place.
In fact, the car that he drove during that winning race, named “The Gray Ghost,” is a NASCAR icon.
As the first driver to supersede 200 mph on a closed course, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that Baker’s nickname was actually the “Gentle Giant.”
As Fox Sports articulated, Baker received the nickname because, “He was a ferocious racer and one of the kindest human beings in all of NASCAR.”
Some of Baker’s other big NASCAR wins included two World 600 victories, one Southern 500 victory, and four wins at Talladega. He is one of only eight NASCAR drivers to have ever won all four major races: Aaron’s 499, Coca-Cola 600, Daytona 500, and the Southern 500.
After his racing career ended in 1994, Baker spent his days coaching other racers and commentating on the radio and television.
The news of his death was announced on Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, which is where Baker was working up until the very end.
Racing was clearly Buddy Baker’s life, and racing fans everywhere will always remember one of NASCARS greatest drivers.