NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Buck Baker (Part 4/5)
Topics: NASCAR, Buck Baker
February 8, 2013
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
JEFF GORDON: In 26 seasons, Buck Baker established himself as one of NASCAR's first superstars, winning 46 races and back‑to‑back championships. Buck's natural ability and aggressive driving style earned him the respect of the competitors on race day. After his racing days were over, Buck wanted to give back to the sport, so he created the Buck Baker Racing School, where aspiring racers could learn the art of stock car driving, of which I'm proud to be one of those graduates.
His on‑track success and off‑track contributions are just two of many reasons why he's being honored here tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Buck Baker was a take‑no‑prisoners winning kind of driver, but he also amassed enough points to become NASCAR's first consecutive series champion in 1956 and '7. He was known for his great versatility, winning 46 times in the Cup Series and also in GRAND‑AM. He's 15th on the all‑time winner list. Buck Baker was 83 when he passed away from 2002. Accepting his induction, please welcome Buck's wife, Susan Baker.
BUDDY BAKER: It's now my honor on this the 8th day of February, 2013, to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee ring to his lovely wife Sue, and I think I'd better give it to you, now officially inducting Buck Baker into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
SUSAN BAKER: I'm proud and deeply honored to accept this award on behalf of my husband. I only wish Buck was here tonight as he would have something very witty to say. However, I know that he is here in spirit. I would like to thank the nominating committee, the voting panel and all of the NASCAR fans that contributed to Buck's selection for the induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
I would also like to thank NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame staff, who were all so very pleasant to work with. There were so many people who touched Buck's life, most notably John Wiley, Buck's grandfather; Bill France Sr.; Carl Kiekhaefer; Bill France Jr.; Jim Hunter and Mike Helton. Buck loved and admired and respected all of these men as well as others.
Buck always made an impression on people, whether it was good or bad. If you ever met him, you never forgot him. It was never boring being married to Buck, either. He could make me laugh like no one else could and had that same effect on others. He was very handsome in a rugged kind of way.
We had a wonderful life together, going to NASCAR races, visiting family and friends, and later meeting the thousands of people through our racing school. He was very proud of his family and of the racing school, and at some point or another, every member of his family worked in the school.
A funny story about the racing school: Jeff Gordon had done everything he could in sprint cars, and it was time for him to move up. The story that I heard was AJ Foyt recommended that Jeff come down to Buck's school for some training. So a gentleman by the name of Larry Nuber of ESPN called me and asked if Jeff could come down free of charge so we could always say that Jeff Gordon went to our school.
I told him to call Buck at Rockingham but to wait until 12:20 after he had had his sandwich, because I knew what he was like if he didn't get his lunch first. So Larry called and got a hold of Buck, telling him Jeff was the next up‑and‑coming driver, they'd bring camera crews to film his training, and he went on and on. Buck's only response was: "I don't want you to bring some SOB down here and he tear all my damn cars up."
We had some difficult times, as well. The worst was the death of his oldest daughter Tina. Buck, however, was never one to sit around and feel sorry for himself. He faced life head on. He was so grateful for everything that was given to him, and he would always remind me of how blessed we were.
There has never been anyone quite like Buck. He was an amazing man and the love of my life. And everyone in our family is overjoyed by his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Thank you for honoring him tonight.
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