At 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” however, the nickname “Leadfoot” was more apropos due to the blistering speeds he often achieved during his 33-year career.
- Inducted: 2020
The Gentle Giant
In 1980, Buddy Baker won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph—a track record that still stands.
In 1970, Baker became the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. Although he didn’t win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in 1970, Baker won there four times throughout his stellar career. He won 19 wins in the premier series, including a victory in the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he lapped the rest of the field. He also won back-to-back World 600s at Charlotte in 1972-1973.
After retiring in 1992, Baker made a successful transition to the television booth as a commentator for The Nashville Network and CBS, and later as a radio co-host on Late Shift and Tradin’ Paint for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. In 1998, Baker was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.