CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The nickname wasn't a misnomer, according to those who knew him. Often called NASCAR's "Gentle Giant," Buddy Baker was laid to rest Tuesday, with family and friends gathering at Avondale Presbyterian Church to say a final goodbye. Stock car racing history filled the pews, silently and respectfully honoring a NASCAR star that won 19 premier series races and 38 poles during a career that spanned three-and-a-half decades. Drivers, crew chiefs, owners and mechanics sat side-by-side, elbow-to-elbow during the hour-long service. NASCAR officials, marketing folks and those from the media turned out as well. The 6'6" Baker left a lasting impression not only on the sport but on everyone he touched. Cancer claimed the 74-year-old a week ago, silencing a distinctive voice that race fans had come to know and enjoy long after he climbed out of the car and stepped behind the microphone. The son of two-time premier series champ Buck Baker , Buddy retired as a driver following the 1994 season, but stayed involved -- he worked in the television booth for The Nashville Network and CBS during race coverage by those two networks. Until earlier this year, he served as co-host of the popular night-time program "The Late Shift" heard on SiriusXM NASCAR radio. "He definitely was a gentle giant," three-time NASCAR premier series champion Cale Yarborough recalled recently. "He was a great guy who would give you the shirt off his back. " Buddy wasn't only a great race car driver, he was one of my closest friends. He and I grew up together; we came along (in the sport) about the same time and we used to travel together, just the two of us. "He'll be missed … I thought the world of him." In 1980, Baker ended 18 years of frustration by finally winning the Daytona 500 while paired with team owner Harry Ranier and legendary crew chief Waddell Wilson. Baker's winning average speed of 177.602 mph established a track record that has yet to be broken. He also won four times on the series' biggest track, 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Baker was the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course, lapping the Talladega track at 200.096 mph and later 200.447 mph during a transmission test on March 24, 1970. The mark came in a winged Dodge Daytona fielded by Hall of Famer Cotton Owens. Former Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler said Baker eclipsed the 200-mph mark on a number of occasions, unofficially, while testing tires for Firestone in the 1960s. "Back (then), I was with Firestone … and I was looking for a young guy that could just really push the throttle down and be our test driver," Wheeler said Tuesday. "In those days, you couldn't draft … you had to set up these weird things on the race car to simulate things you'd go through in the draft. … Carburetors as big as a swimming pool, real weird tires; we never told him what (the setup) was. And he was just unbelievable. He'd say 'We're not going fast enough.'" The potential for grave injury, even death, didn’t give Baker pause, according to Wheeler. "There were no soft walls, the inner liner had just come in (and) the fuel cell had sort of come in. You could get hurt most anywhere you went tire testing," he said. "And it didn’t bother Buddy one bit." Baker , Wheeler noted, is in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the National Motorsports Hall of Fame. "And there is no doubt,” Wheeler said, "that he will soon be brought into our NASCAR Hall of Fame. " Buddy was a great driver and fantastic human being." Baker has been among the 25 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall for the past two years. His father, Buck, was enshrined in the Hall in 2013.
Former NASCAR driver died earlier this week at 74 RELATED: Baker passes away at age 74 " Drivers react to Baker's passing NASCAR will honor the late Buddy Baker in a special way this weekend in events for all three national series. Vehicles will be affixed with a B-post decal (see below) honoring the former NASCAR driver. Baker , 74, passed away Monday after battling lung cancer. The NASCAR racing legend's career spanned more than three decades. His father, Buck Baker , was a two-time premier series champ. Here's where the decals will go on the vehicles: #NASCAR Buddy Baker decal for teams at @MISpeedway pic.twitter.com/G4IH9jul5t — David Higdon (@HigNASCAR) August 12, 2015 ...And here's where you'll see the #NASCAR Buddy Baker decal on the @NASCAR_Trucks vehicles this weekend (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Bu6yieWzif — David Higdon (@HigNASCAR) August 12, 2015 The No. 31 of Ryan Newman had Baker's name spelled out on the door frame, and the No. 21 of Ryan Blaney has an additional sticker on the C-post. Photos by NASCAR.com's Kathy Sheldon.
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. Remembering Buddy Baker NASCAR driver Buddy Baker was known as a fearless racer and one of the sport's greats. Baker , 74, passed away Monday after battling lung cancer. In a career that spanned for over three-and-a-half decades, Baker had racing in his blood. His father Buck Baker was a two-time premier series champ. ESPN's Bob Pockrass wrote about Baker's successful career, touching on important career highlights on the man who was nicknamed the "Gentle Giant." Read the entire piece here . 2. Trouble in the Empire State New York seems to be the home of altercations in recent history, with Ty Dillon and Regan Smith getting physical with one another at Watkins Glen International during the Zippo 200. The two, however, weren't the only athletes duking it out in the Empire State. RELATED: Ty tweets after scrap with Smith Just a couple of weeks into training camp the New York Jets are already making headlines. Head coach Todd Bowles announced on Tuesday that quarterback Geno Smith will be sidelined for 6-10 weeks due to a broken jaw. The quarterback and LB IK Enemkpali, a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft, got physical with one another in the locker room. Now Smith needs surgery and Enemkpali needs to find another team. Geno out 6 to 10 weeks becuse of an altercation in the locker room. Broken jaw. Requires surgery. IK Enemkpali hit him. Been released. #Jets — dom cosentino (@domcosentino) August 11, 2015 3. 'Tom Brady Sux' Remember that time Kyle Busch likened himself to Tom Brady? Well he might want to play down the comparisons between himself and the Deflategate star. RELATED: Kyle compares himself to Tom Brady Sun King Brewing, an Indiana-based brewing company, is showing its disdain for the Patriots quarterback. Look closely at the expiration date. This from @SunKingBrewing in Indy. (Look closely at the expiration date) pic.twitter.com/NbjRRUT8pI — Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 10, 2015 Not sure when that date on the calendar falls so be extra safe and drink the beer right away; you don't want to be drinking expired beer. 4. One-year anniversary of Robin Williams' passing Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of the beloved Robin Williams. Superb actor, witty comedian and Oscar winner are just a few of the accomplishments listed on the funny man's lengthy resume and many in the NASCAR community were avid Williams fans. Check out what some of the drivers were tweeting about the late actor this time last year: I remember Mork & Mindy as a kid. Was a fan. #NanuNanu What an amazing talent. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 11, 2014 Sad to hear about Robin Williams. Brings light to the fact that you can't be sure what tomorrow holds, and Everyone has their struggles. — Aric Almirola (@aric_almirola) August 12, 2014 5. Squirrels are everywhere XFINITY Series star Bubba Wallace and Kansas City Royals infielder Ben Zobrist have one interesting thing in common, squirrels. Yes, you heard that right, squirrels. Bubba had a rollercoaster weekend during the Zippo 200. Not only did he finish outside the top 10, but he had the misfortune of running over a squirrel during the race. He confessed to reporters, right away, about his hit and run, "Yeah, I hit a squirrel." RELATED: Bubba hits squirrel during Watkins Glen race Days before during a Royals-Tigers game, Zobrist also had an interaction with a furry rodent. Read the full story here to find out just how the squirrel was able to outsmart the entire outfield. Your browser does not support iframes.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and reflects on Buddy Baker and what it's like following a father into the sport of racing.
RELATED: Vote for your favorite paint scheme May 6: Harvick unveils paint scheme, talks schedule adjustment NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick was the first of many drivers to unveil his Darlington throwback paint scheme. His No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will feature a nostalgic Budweiser look. " Read the full story May 27: SHR reveals Stewart's throwback Darlington Look Tony Stewart was the second SHR driver to reveal his car's paint scheme for the throwback weekend at Darlington. The No. 14 Chevrolet will have a retro look to it for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . " Read the full story June 9: SHR unveils Busch's Darlington paint scheme SHR continued to unveil its drivers' throwback looks, this time with Kurt Busch 's car being on display. His No. 41 Chevrolet will pay tribute to past Haas-Automation schemes run at "The Lady in Black." " Read the full story July 8: RCR reveals Newman's Darlington throwback look See Ryan Newman 's paint scheme set for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Newman's No. 31 Chevrolet honors Caterpillar's history. " Read the full story July 21: Danica's Darlington paint scheme revealed NASCAR's leading lady, Danica Patrick , will appropriately honor the track nicknamed "The Lady in Black" with black livery for her No. 10 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug 4: Wood Bros. reveals Blaney's Darlington throwback scheme The No. 21 Ford of Ryan Blaney has quite a historic throwback look as it includes more than 2,000 photos of the Wood Brothers team's history, dating back 60 years. " Read the full story Aug 15: Jimmie Johnson 's Darlington scheme revealed Jimmie's No. 48 Chevrolet is one of the many cars set to rock a vintage look for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . The three-time Darlington winner will have a Lowe's Home Improvement logo on his car that was used throughout the 1940s and '50s. " See Jimmie's paint preview Aug 18: Stenhouse Jr. reveals Darlington throwback look Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s No. 17 Ford is getting a new (or rather old) paint scheme. The look will honor David Pearson, 105-time winner in NASCAR's premier series and Darlington's all-time winner with a total of 10 wins. " See Stenhouse Jr.'s paint scheme Aug 18: Ragan's Darlington look to honor his father David Ragan is taking the opportunity to honor his father, Ken Ragan, during the Bojangles' Southern 500 . His No. 55 MWR Toyota will feature a paint scheme that his father often featured on his cars. " Read the full story Aug 18: Gallery: Darlington's throwback paint schemes With drivers fully embracing the throwback theme that Darlington has to offer, NASCAR.com made it easy and put all the paint schemes in one place. " See the full gallery Aug 24: Bowyer's Darlington throwback look unveiled Clint Bowyer is one of many to be rocking an old-school look to his car. The No. 15 Toyota will sport a dedication to two NASCAR greats -- Bud Moore and the late Buddy Baker . " Read the full story Aug 25: BK Racing unveils Jeb Burton throwback, driver swap In this driver swap, Burton will be taking over the No. 23 of J.J. Yeley, who will be driving Burton's No. 26 Toyota. The No. 23 will honor Jeb's father, Ward Burton. " Read the full story Aug 27: Two JGR teams to serve practice penalties at Darlington Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth will serve penalties for the practice rounds at Darlington due to failed pre-qualifying and pre-race inspections at Bristol. " Read the full story Aug 27: Aric Almirola 's throwback paint scheme for Darlington revealed Aric Almirola 's No. 43 Ford is the latest to get a vintage makeover before the throwback weekend begins. The No. 43 will be sporting a Richard Petty-inspired look. " Read the full story Aug 27: Terry Labonte to be Southern 500 grand marshal Two-time Sprint Cup champion Terry Labonte will serve as grand marshal for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Labonte won at Darlington when the race was last held during Labor Day weekend. " Read the full story Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Brad Keselowski Take a look at the paint scheme Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 Team Penske Ford will be sporting, paying homage to the Darlington throwback weeeknd. " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Denny Hamlin Glimpse Denny Hamlin 's retro scheme that is paying tribute to NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough. " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Chase Elliott Check out the original paint scheme that Chase Elliott will be honoring at Darlington Raceway . " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Austin Dillon Keeping it in the family, Austin Dillon will be honoring his grandfather and will be using a paint scheme patterned after Richard Childress's No. 3. " Watch the video Aug 30: Complete schedule for Darlington Don't miss any of the exciting action. Check out the complete schedule to find out when on-track action begins. " Read more Aug 31: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for Darlington throwback weekend Everyone is geared up and ready for the throwback weekend at Darlington for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . " Read more Sept. 1: Not a typical throwback NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce explains why Darlington is different, with help from legends like Cale Yarborough. " Read more Sept. 2: Kahne's look revealed The scheme for Kasey Kahne 's No. 5 gives a nod to Geoff Bodine and Hendrick Motorsports ' beginnings. " Read more Sept. 2: How Darlington's distinctive design was made Darlington Raceway was designed back in 1949, preparing for the first 500-mile NASCAR race to be held at "The Lady in Black" in 1950. " Read more Sept. 2: Behind-the-scenes at the Mello Yello shoot Kyle Larson and Kyle Petty team up for the Mello Yello shoot where Larson gets a pretty interesting makeover. Do you like his new look? " See more Sept. 2: 1970 Southern 500 Promo The throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway is bringing back a lot of retro looks with the abundance of paint schemes. Take a look into our archive and see what teh 1970 Southern 500 race was all about. " Watch the video Sept. 2: Chase-clinching scenarios at Darlignton With two races away before the Chase, drivers who have yet to clinch a spot are in panic mode. See how drivers need to perform at Darlington if they want to be on the Chase Grid. " Read more
Dale Earnhardt Jr . knows all about growing up in the shadow of a legend. He knows where that path leads, where it ends and where the next one begins. Buddy Baker did, too. Both are the sons of famous racers. Both followed their fathers into the sport. It was a connection, a common thread leading away from two very uncommon individuals. Baker , the son of two-time NASCAR premier series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Buck Baker , passed away Monday following a brief battle with lung cancer. The father, tough as an old boot, taught the son plenty. A giant of a man inside and outside the car, Buddy won 19 times, including the 1980 Daytona 500 . He's been among the nominees for the Hall for the past two years. Earnhardt Jr.'s father, Dale Earnhardt, was one of the inaugural members of the Hall selected in 2010. The elder Earnhardt won seven NASCAR premier series titles, tying Richard Petty's formidable mark. He won 76 races. For many, Earnhardt was NASCAR, helping to fill the void left by the departure of icons that had carried the sport on their shoulders through the 1960s and '70s -- men such as Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. And Buddy Baker . The father-son connection question has been asked countless times of Earnhardt Jr. He is no longer surprised by it. His father's shadow loomed large over the sport, even after his death on the race track in 2001. The similarities to Baker's own circumstances became more obvious to Earnhardt Jr. over time. "When I was really young, I grew aware of his situation and I hadn't become a driver yet," Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "I didn't feel like I could relate to him. "I obviously knew just what growing up in household must have been like, the yearning to compete and get into the series and do what your father was doing and be a part of it to be more a part of his life. "To be more of a part of your father's life is one of the main reasons why you get involved. I maybe could understand that part of it." Baker's on-track accomplishments, and later his move into broadcasting, helped him shed the "son-of" label. Just as Earnhardt Jr.'s eventual success -- he's won 25 races, including a pair of Daytona 500 titles -- helped him blaze his own trail. "You almost forgot about that scenario and how similar it may have been to your own (situation) because of what he was able to accomplish," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He created his own identity outside of Buck ( Baker ). He did so many things on his own, added to his own identity and legacy that you totally really forgot about having those similarities down the road." NASCAR hasn't lacked for father/son combinations through the years -- Lee and Richard Petty; Richard and Kyle Petty; Bobby and Davey and Clifford Allison; Ned, Glenn and Dale Jarrett; David and Larry Pearson; and more recently Ward and Jeb Burton just to name a few. There are a lot, Earnhardt Jr. said, "that I feel that connection to, that know what that connection is like." The situation isn't specific to racing, but racing is where both Earnhardt Jr. and Baker found themselves. Following in their fathers' footsteps. "Wanting to be in that shadow when you're young and wanting to be a part of his life when you're young and then trying to get out from under that shadow all the rest of the years of your life is definitely, I wouldn't call it a struggle, but it's just a unique situation that only a few of us can say we've been through," said Earnhardt Jr., "and we can relate to each other through that."
RELATED: Darlington throwback paint schemes Darlington's throwback theme for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 already is a hit with racers and fans alike, bringing out the creativity in the industry with special paint schemes and providing opportunities to honor great racers who have gone before. But what if along with those throwback paint schemes, like Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Valvoline No. 88 nod to Cale Yarborough and Clint Bowyer 's No. 15 salute to recently passed Buddy Baker , we could actually bring back the NASCAR legends themselves for this one race. Who would you pick? Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman could fill the whole 43-car field with legendary race car drivers. He won seven premier series championships with Richard Petty and an eighth with Terry Labonte , competing against some of the most storied personalities in the sport. "Damn, I've seen 'em all. I don't know …" Inman said of trying to choose just one driver to place in a throwback ride. "Earnhardt Sr. was good there you know." Bowyer, too, wished Earnhardt Sr. could join the field at the 2015 Southern 500. "Obviously for me it would be Earnhardt for me because we lost him, you know. That's first and foremost. Anyone you ever lost is who you'd want to bring back." But Bowyer said bringing back the man with the most wins (47) and most poles (47) at Darlington, David Pearson, would be the ultimate measuring stick for today's Sprint Cup drivers. "Pearson … man, what a character and just a genuine badass and an aggressive and successful racer. Anytime you have someone who's successful in the sport you make a living in, you want to be able to see what he had, what he's made of and see how you stack up." Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing , fondly remembers those days with Pearson driving the No. 21 Purolator Mercury. Pearson drove for the Woods Brothers from 1972-79 and won seven times at "The Lady in Black" during that span with two runner-up finishes. "That was his place," Wood said of Pearson's dominance at the South Carolina track. "The hotter the better for David. He liked it HOT, so we'd have to run in the daytime for him." RELATED: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for throwback weekend Inman attributed some of Pearson's success at the track also called "Too Tough To Tame" to his ability to take care of his equipment. This was extra difficult, as Inman recalled, because the track promoter sometimes would put bear's grease on the track between Saturday's practice and Monday's race. Blue laws prevented NASCAR from running on Sundays in South Carolina then. "Pearson just had a knack for taking care of the car. He always had a good car too," Inman said. "At least most of the time. For Darlington we put bars under the fenders. You knew you were gonna hit the wall, so we just put bars in and just bolted them to the right side. But the guard rail wasn't smooth like it is now. And they'll wear the sides out this time with the low downforce package." Aside from the drivers who racked up at the track, including Richard Petty and Buck Baker , Inman said Parnelli Jones' performance at Darlington had lasting impact on the racing there. "Parnelli Jones came out here in maybe 1956 or 57 was the first one to really use the high bank to what it is now. I remember him just sliding up to the fence. He didn't finish, of course." Jones crashed at Darlington in both 1956 and 1957. He finished 50th in a field of 70 cars in 1956 in the No. 1 Torrance Motors Ford and 34th in the No. 11 Ford owned by Oscar Maples in 1957. In 1958, Jones did finish the Southern 500 running, coming in 18th in a field of 48 cars during his last race there. The list of great performances at Darlington is nothing short of epic. Just the list of winners sends any racing fan on a long ride down memory lane: Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Bobby Allison, Fonty Flock, Neil Bonnett, Benny Parsons, Harry Gant. How would they stack up against Jeff Gordon , the active driver with the most wins at Darlington (seven)? "Herb Thomas and Buck Baker were both really good," Inman added to the list. "But Herb had it as good as anyone in those old Hudson Hornets that Marshall Teague built, and I think he won in a Chevrolet, too." Now that would be an entirely different kind of throwback idea. Run at Darlington again in restored Chevrolets, Fords, Hornets, Plymouths, Pontiacs and Dodges.
RELATED: See all the paint schemes for Darlington Darlington Raceway will host the Bojangles' Southern 500 this weekend. Numerous teams are participating in the throwback theme at the South Carolina track and paying homage to some of NASCAR's most famous cars -- and drivers. Here's how some of the cars looked originally, with footage of the vehicles driving around Darlington. Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski 's scheme is paying homage to Bobby Allison's car in the 1983 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Allison's car in action Austin Dillon Austin Dillon is keeping it in the family and honoring grandfather Richard Childress. The paint scheme of the No. 3 Chevrolet is a tribute to Childress' car during the 1979 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Childress' car in action Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 JGR Toyota mirrors the car of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough's look from 1973. " Watch old footage of Yarborough's car in action Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Ricky Stenhouse Jr . is honoring three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson and paying tribute to his car from the 1968 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Pearson's car in action Chase Elliott The No. 25 of Chase Elliott is one of the many cars getting a vintage makeover. Elliott's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet resembles the paint scheme of his father Bill Elliott 's car from 1974. " Watch old footage Elliott's car in action Kyle Larson Kyle Larson 's No. 42 Chevrolet is going to replicate Kyle Petty's Mello Yello look. " Watch old footage of Petty's car in action Clint Bowyer As Clint Bowyer looks for a strong performance at Darlington in hopes to maintain his spot on the Chase Grid, his car will be rocking a pretty awesome paint scheme honoring the late Buddy Baker . Bowyer's Toyota is similar to Baker's No. 15 Ford from the 1974 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Baker's car in action
NASCAR community takes to Twitter to honor the sport's 'Gentle Giant' Former NASCAR driver Buddy Baker died Monday morning at the age of 74 after a battle with lung cancer. Often referred to as NASCAR's '"Gentle Giant," the 1980 Daytona 500 winner was well-known, respected and beloved by friends and competitors alike. Upon hearing of his passing, the NASCAR community took to Twitter to pay their respects to Baker and his family. RELATED: Baker through the years “Do not shed a tear. Give a smile when you say my name. I’m not saying goodbye. Just talk to you later.” - Buddy Baker — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 10, 2015 Saddened to hear of Buddy Baker's passing. He left his mark inside the car and out. He was loved, appreciated, and respected. #RIPBuddy — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 10, 2015 Saddened to hear of the passing of Buddy Baker . Our thoughts and prayers are with the Baker family. #RIPBuddy — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) August 10, 2015 My thoughts and prayers are with the Baker family & friends. — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 10, 2015 Today we lost a legend pic.twitter.com/dtdCdZMoGd — Dale Jarrett (@DaleJarrett) August 10, 2015 Most fitting tribute I can think of this morning... Miss you Buddy @KarenByrnes @CopaCavanna @SteveByrnes12 http://t.co/vYPLtHapo3 — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) August 10, 2015 Such a great weekend with so much fun all around, but sad to hear today of the passing of Buddy Baker . Always enjoyed talking to him. — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 10, 2015 Good Morning America, twitterville, race fans, sad day for the racing community, #buddybaker has gone to be with the Lord, RIP #GentleGiant — Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) August 10, 2015 Saddened of the passing of Buddy Baker . People like Buddy is why this sport is as friendly as it is. Awesome driver, even better person! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 10, 2015 Been planning on doing a throw back at Darlington. Sure wish he could've seen it. #buddybaker pic.twitter.com/BaKOPcWtGq — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 10, 2015 Our thoughts & prayers go out to Baker family. He will be remembered as a good and joyous man, an icon in our sport https://t.co/43hMtkfk47 — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) August 10, 2015 When I think of Buddy Baker I smile. I'm thankful I knew this sweet, gentle man. I also him get mad a couple times. But not at me! #RIP BB — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) August 10, 2015 "Do not shed a tear. Give a smile when you say my name. I’m not saying goodbye. Just talk to you later.” Buddy Baker pic.twitter.com/zNyAcFJzDo — Michael McDowell (@Mc_Driver) August 10, 2015 RIP my friend. #buddybaker pic.twitter.com/Fd2RFyL2TM — chocolatemyers3 (@chocolatemyers3) August 10, 2015 So sorry to hear of the death of Buddy Baker .My thoughts and prayers are with his family.Huge contributor to the sport we love. #Respect — Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) August 10, 2015 Our thoughts & prayers are with Buddy Baker's family & friends. A great man with a great personality. The #GentleGiant will be missed. — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) August 10, 2015 My thoughts and prayers go out to the Baker family and friends. RIP Buddy — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) August 10, 2015 Sorry 2 hear my friend Buddy Baker passed, glad he is no longer suffering. RIP, Hear no1 has gone 200mph in heaven. Go easy on the rt front — Ryan Newman (@RyanJNewman) August 10, 2015 Sad to hear the news of Buddy Baker passing this morning. Thought a and prayers with his family. — Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) August 10, 2015 We're saddened to learn about the passing of Buddy Baker . Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fans. #GentleGiant — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) August 10, 2015 God speed Buddy Baker ... — Kyle Petty (@kylepetty) August 10, 2015 We had some fun times together. Rest in peace good Buddy . #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/jg1ODjHIca — Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) August 10, 2015 Really sad to wake up and see the news of Buddy Baker . He was always a great supporter prays to his family!! — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) August 10, 2015 Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Buddy Baker . Buddy passed away this morning at the age of 74. pic.twitter.com/SglYrzsKK2 — RCR (@RCRracing) August 10, 2015 Thoughts and prayers to the Baker family.... #RIPBuddy — Ryan Reed (@driverRyanReed) August 10, 2015
RELATED: Baker dies at age 74 " Drivers, teams react to Baker's passing Was Buddy Baker ever scared? Probably not very often. And rarely, one would guess, while he was in a race car. The larger-than-life Baker , who won 19 times in NASCAR's premier series and was the first stock car driver to eclipse the 200 mph mark on a closed course, died Monday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 74. He was a former Daytona 500 winner and drove for some of the sport's best-known teams during a career that spanned three and a half decades. In 1971, and for a portion of the 1972 season, Baker competed for the legendary Petty Enterprises organization. Two of his 19 wins came while he was a teammate of seven-time champion Richard Petty. PHOTOS: Buddy Baker through the years Saturday at Watkins Glen International, site of Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman, Petty's crew chief during the King's run to seven titles, recalled one instance that shook up the driver known both as "Leadfoot" and the "Gentle Giant." "It was 1970 or '71, '71 I believe; Buddy was driving for us and Richard was running for the championship," Inman said while teams prepared for inspection and qualifying at the 2.54-mile WGI. " Buddy and one of our guys had bought these two dirt bikes and they'd go riding them in the woods. Somebody gave Richard one of those small ones; the handlebars on it weren't hardly no wider than anything." According to Inman, "Richard kept nearly falling off the bike this way and that, finally fell off altogether I think. And the other guy ended up about 10 feet up a tree. "Richard came back to the shop and was showing me all his bruises and cuts and everything and I started yelling at him, really giving him down the road and telling him I wished he'd been hurt worse. 'Cause we were in the middle of the championship and here he was doing something foolish like that." Inman's tone and obvious displeasure with what could have happened caught the easy-going Baker off-guard. "Well, I guess it scared Buddy so bad the next thing you knew he had loaded up his bike on the trailer and got out of there," Inman said, laughing at the recollection. Baker won 38 poles during his career and finished fifth or better 202 times in 699 starts. Buddy's father Buck was the first driver to win back-to-back series titles (1956-57) and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013. Both he and Buddy were named on NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers list, selected in 1998. Buddy is a member of the National Motorsports Hall of Fame as well as the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.