Legendary NASCAR driver and famed commentator Buddy Baker will serve as Grand Marshal for Dawsonville’s 41st annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.
The first driver to top 200 mph, Baker’s career spanned three decades and 19 wins.
The son of two-time NASCAR champion Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, with a victory at the Southern 500 in 1970, became the first NASCAR driver to win the same race at the same venue as his father.
During his career, Buddy Baker won 19 races, including the 1980 Daytona 500.
His victory in Daytona remains the fastest Daytona 500 ever run, with an average speed of 177.602 mph.
Baker is one of only eight drivers to have won a Career Grand Slam, by winning the sport’s four majors — the Daytona 500, Aaron’s 499, Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500. Baker is the only one of the eight that did not win a championship.
“He was a lot more popular than his record shows,” said Dawsonville’s Gordon Pirkle.
“He didn’t know nothing but wide open.”
Following his last NASCAR race in 1992, Baker made a career move, transitioning to commentator, and was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1997.
Baker now hosts a motorsports radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio, where Pirkle said Baker plans to promote the Moonshine Festival nationwide.
As grand marshal, Baker will lead the annual parade that kicks off the annual festival.
“He’s a good story teller. We hope we can keep him still long enough to listen to him,” Pirkle said. “We’re sure going to try.”
The Moonshine Festival will be held Oct. 25 and 26 in downtown Dawsonville.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.