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FOX NASCAR Quotes: Darrell Waltrip on the Loss of Buddy Baker

Monday, Aug 10 2323

On the loss of Baker:

“We have lost another NASCAR legend.  Another driver from my era has gone to be with the Lord.  I miss every one of them -- (Dale) Earnhardt, Benny Parsons, all of the number of guys we’ve lost in in recent years.  It’s just heartbreaking.”

On his last conversation with Baker:

“I talked to Buddy just two or three weeks ago when Doug Richert went to visit him.  Doug called and put him on the phone with me.  He asked if I’d pray with him, so I prayed with him for a few minutes.  We talked about racing and his faith in God.  He assured me he was looking forward to heaven and to seeing his dad.  He told me how much he loved his dad and how much he was looking forward to being reunited with him. It was a heart-touching conversation. As many people have heard him say, Baker told me, ‘When you think of me, I want you to laugh -- not cry.’ I can think of a million times Baker made me laugh, so it’s not hard to laugh when I remember him.  But I will really, really miss him.”

On one of his favorite memories of Baker:

“One that really sticks out is that NASCAR Goes Country album we did back in the day.  I always called Baker ‘Butterbean’ afterward because he did that song ‘Just a Bowl of Butterbeans.’  It was hilarious watching him do it because he’d get so uptight about some things. He was a nervous wreck about that song because he wanted the song to be just right and wanted to nail it.  He was the same way racing.  I asked him once, ‘Baker, why do you get so nervous and so torn up before a race?’ He said, ‘If you’d had as many things happen to you at the end of a race to keep you from winning as I have,  you’d get nervous, too.’ He literally would drive cars into the ground.  The cars couldn’t take it back then. Baker probably could have won a ton of races if he’d just paced himself more, but he didn’t know how. He was a big man, and those cars were big and heavy, so he could manhandle and abuse a car more than most of us could because of his size.  He literally drove them into the ground many times and cost himself a lot of wins.”

On how he will remember Baker:

“I had the pleasure of racing with him.  We had some good times on the race track. I had the pleasure of working with him in the TV booth when I was a guest on TNN sometimes. Then he was  car owner when I was on the verge of owning my team, and he talked to me about how tough that was.  That’s when Cale (Yarborough), Bobby (Allison), Buddy and a bunch of us drivers thought we could be car owners.  We found out we were great drivers but not such good car owners. Baker found that out the hard way, and it cost him a lot of money.  I found that out the hard way, and it also cost me a lot of money.

“I knew him in every aspect of the sport -- as a driver, owner and TV analyst.  Baker was always fun to be around and one of the best storytellers in the world.  Every race was an adventure. When you took off for a 500-mile race back in those days, you knew you’d be lucky to go 500 miles and not have something happen.  That produced countless stories.  Baker telling the story about racing in Tennessee and falling out of the back of the ambulance was hilarious.  I could go on all day sharing stories he told me over the years, and they were all true.  The people we drove for and raced against back in the day were such characters, and great characters oftentimes are great storytellers.  He had the knack for keeping an audience spellbound, and that’s what made him so good on TV and radio.”

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