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Monday, April 15
Updated: April 16, 7:18 PM ET
Baker won 46 Cup races
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Buck Baker, a two-time Winston Cup champion who was included on NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers list, has died. He was 83.

Buddy Baker, left, and his father Buck ponder the problems of pistons and plugs on May 5, 1972.

Baker died late Sunday night at Carolinas Medical Center. Family members said he was in the hospital for a procedure involving a pacemaker that had been implanted earlier.

Baker was part of NASCAR's history, learning his driving skills while running moonshine along the backroads of North Carolina. He was a city bus driver in Charlotte when he turned to racing full time, competing in NASCAR's inaugural season.

He went on to win 46 Winston Cup races -- 13th on the all-time list -- and 44 poles. He was the first back-to-back series champion, winning titles in 1956 and 1957.

"Throughout the entire racing world, I don't know of anybody who would said he didn't give 110 percent from the time they dropped the green flag until the time the race was over," said his son Buddy Baker, himself a winner of 19 NASCAR Winston Cup races. "He was that same way in life, too."

Buck Baker, born Elzie Wylie Baker on March 4, 1919, in Richburg, S.C., started 631 races, seventh most in NASCAR, and ran the most laps and miles for three consecutive years beginning in 1955. He was a three-time winner of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, one of NASCAR's most storied races.

"There was a time in the modified division that nobody could beat him," Buddy Baker said. "He won 27 in a row once at old Charlotte fairgrounds track, and the bad part was that we were the promoters at that track. They'd boo him coming in and boo him going out, but the next day everybody would be hanging around at his shop."

Buck Baker, who retired in 1976, was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame in 1982 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.

For the past 20 years, Baker had operated the Buck Baker Racing School, one of the first schools to teach the skills involved in stock car racing. The school was based at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham and also operated at tracks in Atlanta and Bristol, Tenn.

Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon drove a stock car for the first time at Baker's driving school in Rockingham, the first step in his move from open-wheel racing in Indiana to the NASCAR stardom he now enjoys.

Baker is survived by his wife of 30 years, Susan Painter Baker; two sons, Buddy of Sherrills Ford and Randy of Kannapolis; a daughter, Susie Baker of Charlotte, a sister, two grandsons and two great granddaughters.

The funeral will be Thursday at the Calvary Church Chapel in Charlotte.

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Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick remembers Buck Baker.
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