For Ionia, Michigan’s Scotty Baker, strapping into the cockpit of a racecar was always more than just a childhood dream, it was a passion.
Growing up near I-96 and Crystal Motor Speedways, Scotty spent many summer nights in the grandstands, “I remember being a kid and coming to the track and watching Bob Flinn in his #02 Late Model and knowing that was what I wanted to do”.
In his early teens Scotty began turning wrenches on Flinn’s car, and although he gained valuable knowledge the experience only heightened his desire to get behind the wheel. By the age of 15 Scotty was ready to take to the track in a no.13 4-cylinder. He spent the first three years of his career racking up wins at Mid-Michigan Raceway Park, Crystal Motor Speedway for the Wednesday Lion’s Club Benefit nights, and occasionally at Mt. Pleasant Speedway. By the time he was 18 Scotty had amassed three championships including two Lion’s Club series championships, and a season championship at Mid-Michigan. Seeking a new challenge; the 2003 season saw Scotty behind the wheel of a Pro-Stock where he did battle Friday nights at I-96 Speedway and Saturday’s at Crystal. Baker soon proved he was up to that challenge and in three years captured more than 20 victories, nine of which came at Crystal in the 2005 season alone.
2006 was the beginning of a new chapter in Baker’s career when he realized his dream of Dirt Late Model competition and it didn’t take long for him to adapt, by May of his rookie season Scotty was already sitting in victory lane after capturing a main event at Crystal Motor Speedway.
Over the past decade Baker has proved that the no.13 is not always unlucky, “I was born on Friday the 13th so that’s why I choose to run with the number…So far it’s been a lucky 13 for us”. Lucky indeed; Scotty has amassed several wins throughout his career and in 2010 he raised the bar by competing full-time with the American Late Model Series and finishing a very respectable 7th in overall points standings.
Although Scotty will always consider CMS his home; traveling has added a new dimension to the Baker race team; “It definitely took some adjusting, but we had some good results last year with ALMS. With traveling to new places you have to learn how to adapt quicker. Running here at Crystal I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, but when I go to a new track I have to really be on my toes watching the track and the competition because it’s really hard to predict what the track and the other drivers are going to do”.
Of his new haunts, Scotty says that the Big E ranks very high on his list, “I really like Eldora, we haven’t made a feature there yet, but we are extremely close and hopefully it will happen this fall. If all goes as planned we will be at the World 100 in September to be part of history being made with a three-wide start for the event. And we also hope to return in October for the UMP Nationals”.
Racing a Dirt Late Model on a weekly basis takes an extensive amount of time and dedication, and that’s when everything goes right. When things go wrong the stakes are raised and not soon forgotten as Scotty recalled, “I took a wild ride at Hartford three years ago when I wrecked a car sliding down the back-chute wall. That was probably the most exciting moment of my career. The track that night had some marbles on it and it all started because some guys just got exciting on the first lap of the B-Main. Two cars came together in front of me with neither backing out. With an inside and outside wall there was just no place to go and I started to go sideways and got hit by another car. That hit put me up on top of the wall and I rode it for approximately 70 feet. By the end of that ride my car was completely junked. We were able to save the seat and the engine but not much else. We left that next Monday morning for Louisiana to buy a new car, drove straight through on the way home. Made it back Wednesday and had the car on the track and racing that next weekend” Scotty then added with a chuckle, “Now that is definitely dedication!”
Dedication is a key word in the vocabulary of a weekend warrior, and although he doesn’t get much free time between his Monday-Friday job working for the City of Ionia’s Department of Public Works, Scott spends some of his down time chasing golf balls or just hanging out, but most of the time you will find his ever-ready smile under a helmet or taking in the experience that can only be found at a racetrack.