Seven Great Buddy Baker Dodges
by Tom Jensen March 21, 2022
Buddy Baker’s earliest success came driving Dodges, some for Hall of Fame team owners
Baker and the Gray Ghost will forever be linked for running the fastest Daytona 500 ever, and indeed the gray and black, Harry Ranier-owned Oldsmobile was Baker’s Hall of Honor car after he was inducted.
But did you know that of Baker’s 19 career premier series victories, the first eight all came in Dodges? And those victories were with four different teams, including a pair of fellow Hall of Famers?
Here are seen of Baker’s Dodges, six of which he won races with and one that broke a speed barrier once thought to be unapproachable.
Perseverance is an underrated quality. It took eight years and 216 starts for Buddy Baker to win his first premier series race, but he did it in grand style winning the National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Baker was victorious in the white No. 3 Dodge Charger owned by Raymond Fox, one of the sport’s top mechanics.
The 1968 NASCAR season was déjà vu all over again for car owner Raymond Fox and driver Buddy Baker. Although the Dodge Charger they raced was all-new, the results were similar, as Baker again won a race in the No. 3 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This time, however, Baker triumphed in the World 600, NASCAR’s longest race.
Midway through 1969, Buddy Baker moved to the No. 6 Dodge owned by fellow Hall of Famer Cotton Owens (2013). After a winless first season together, the pair campaigned a high-winged, drop-nosed Dodge Daytona at the faster tracks in 1970, with Baker scoring a huge victory in the Southern 500, one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.
Without question, one of Buddy Baker’s crowning achievements was being the first driver to break the 200 miles per hour barrier on a closed course, which he did at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway) on March 24, 1970. Driving the No. 88 Dodge Daytona prepared by Ray Nichels, Baker lapped the 2.66-mile track at a speed of 200.447 mph.
Chrysler Corp., the parent company of Dodge and Plymouth, radically scaled back its NASCAR program for 1971. Petty Enterprises, the team founded by Hall of Famer Lee Petty (2011), fielded two cars, a Plymouth for Lee’s son Richard Petty (2010) and a white No. 11 Dodge for Buddy Baker. Petty ran full time, with Baker competing in only 19 of 48 races, including the spring event at historic Darlington Raceway, where Baker won his only race of the season.
Teaming up with Petty Enterprises for a second consecutive season, Buddy Baker was again behind the wheel of the No. 11 Dodge in 1972. The big change, though, was the old white paint scheme was ditched in favor of a bright red hue, the corporate color of new sponsor STP. Baker entered 17 of 31 races in 1972, when he won the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for a second time.
After running only a limited schedule in 1971-72, Buddy Baker had the opportunity to race full time with Nord Krauskopf’s K&K Insurance team in 1973. Baker made the most of the situation, as he drove the No. 71 Dodge to victories in the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Nashville 420. Competing in 27 or 28 premier series races, Baker ended the 1973 season sixth in points, at the time a career best.