Often described as a man “who got things done”, Dick Baker was an honours graduate engineer who went to work for General Motors in 196, advancing easily through the corporate ranks. In 1976, to scratch his entrepreneurial itch, Dick struck our on his own and armed with vision, gumption, energy integrity and a rare attention to detail, wound up at the epicentre of an ever-evolving universe of Canadian trucking and manufacturing companies, realestate developments, far-flung business interests and a close, knit and devoted family. He was not a man to be involved in something by halves, and volunteered his efforts and ideas freely. As often as not, he wound up at the helm of whatever cause or project that attracted his attention. Dick was active in his community, serving as president of his local Rotary club. He supported children’s camps and studied and researched Belleville area history.
Dick was also a lifelong racer and avid motorsport enthusiast, who, over the last 25 years of his life, concentrated his interest and energies on the vintage end of the sport. Dick started racing in the 1960’s, driving an MGA at Mosport. He was attracted to and got involved in vintage racing in the 1970s. He was the co-founder of the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada, championed and then spearheaded the inclusion of Formula 70 wings and slick open-wheelers in vintage racing, and at the time of his death was president elect of the Monoposto Register, the premier North American vintage racing group for single seaters. He was also chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. He was the 2001 recipient of the Dewey Dellinger Award within the Vintage Motorsport Council for “many valuable and unselfish contributions to vintage racing in the United States and Canada”. In both the business and motorsport worlds, Dick Baker had a rare knack of making things happen. He knew how to get people interested, to get them excited and to get them involved. He was most proud of the mechanical and racing skills of his three sons, Brad, Deana and Duncan. Besides being excellent racers, they had the mechanical skill to work on their own cars. Sadly Duncan passed away after a road accident several years ago but Brad and Dean remain threats to win almost any vintage race they enter. Dick Baker is gone now but he was a diehard enthusiast, fan and friend of the sport. As one old friend said recently, “Most of all, he will be remembered for his presence in the paddock, always there to help, council, cajole and ensure that all the open-wheel racers at a vintage event raced well and enjoyed themselves. If Dick didn’t come by in his golf cart to chat, if wasn’t a complete weekend.” Well said because we will miss him.
Image courtesy of Bob Harrington