Buddy Baker, whose storytelling and friendly demeanor made him a fan favorite, announced Tuesday night that a “huge tumor” in his lung is cancerous and inoperable and he is leaving his role as a co-host of SirusXM NASCAR Radio, effective immediately.
“For those who feel sorry, hey I’m 74 years old, have great friends, had a career,” he said on “The Late Shift” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The toughest part for me is not being able to talk to some of our regulars that are almost like family.
“There comes a time when you talk to the doctor and say what are my chances and there’s a dead silence. I went how long. ‘Well, we don’t own the hotel, we don’t know when we check out. It’s something that we cannot fix.’ ”
Baker then added: “Do not shed a tear. Give a smile when you say my name. I’m not saying goodbye. Just talk to you later.”
Baker was on the air for about 40 minutes Tuesday and took calls from fans and some in the sport.
“I just want to say goodbye to everyone,” Baker said before signing off. “Thanks for being a friend.”
The 74-year-old Baker won 19 races in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including the 1980 Daytona 500. He made his series debut in 1959 and ran his final Cup race in 1992.
Along with his Daytona 500, Baker won the 1970 Southern 500, what is now the Coca-Cola 600 in 1968, ’72 and ’73. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998.
He also became the first driver to exceed 200 mph on a closed course when he did it in 1970 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker, the 6-foot-6 Baker was known as the “Gentle Giant” during his racing days. That same friendly style endeared him to fans when he worked on television after retiring. He served as a broadcaster for TNN and CBS. He started with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in 2007.