As another NASCAR season winds up I thought it would be fun to look at some survivors from the series glorious past.
Today’s featured #87 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is believed to be the oldest existing ‘original’ NASCAR racing vehicle,
the 1949 model is distinguishable by it’s split front screen.
The Rocket V8 303 cui engine makes the car a true ancestor of the light body/chassis big engine “muscle car’. This motor, produced in Lancing, Michigan, was the first post war overhead valve V8 from General Motors and remained in production in the 303 size until 1953, the 1949 version of this engine produced 135 horse power, against the contemporary flat head Ford V8 which produced just 100 hp.
Oldsmobile Rocket 88’s won half of the first 60 NASCAR Late Model races between 1949 and 1950. Buck Baker first drove the #87 Oldsmobile at Darlington on Sept 4th, 1950 coming in 69th (of 75 !) after qualifying 28th.
Elzie Wylie (Buck) Baker 1919 – 2002 took part in his first race at Greenville, SC blew a tyre and posted a DNF, he entered the first two NASCAR races in 1949 in the #87 Kaiser.
His first of 49 NASCAR wins came at Columbia on April 12th 1952 driving the #89 Hudson.
Bucks greatest achievement was wining titles in 1956 driving Ford, Chrysler and Dodge models and again in 1957 driving the #87 Chevy, he did not run full (56 race) schedules in either year, but still became the first winner of consecutive NASCAR titles.
His last win was recorded at Darlington driving the #3 Dodge in 1964 Buck retired in 1976 on October 10th at Charlotte after he came in 24th from a 38th place start in the #59 Chevrolet.
In 1980 Buck founded the Buck Baker Racing school which list graduates, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart who between them have won seven Cup Titles.
Apart from Buck drivers of this particular Oldsmobile in the Sportsman / Modified division from 1951 to 1961 include, Gene Darragh, Paul Goldsmith, Darel Dieringer and Lee Petty who raced the vehicle at Daytona International Speedway, along way from its first race on dirt track at Charlotte.
Thanks for joining me on this “NASCAR’s Oldest Survivor” Edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psychoontyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !