Food Lion AutoFair on SPEED Sunday Night
Baker never dreamed that when he parked the yellow-and-black Buick GSX muscle car alongside other vehicles from the Gran Sport Club of America on Sept. 17 that speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler and Barrett-Jackson president Craig Jackson would choose it to receive the four-day show's highest honor from among thousands of competitors.
Not only did the Charlotte-based auto repair shop owner take home the show's stylish trophy-a vintage steering wheel encased in glass and wood-Baker was also interviewed for the inaugural episode of "Barrett-Jackson: On the Road," which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. (ET) on SPEED Channel.
The biggest shock, however, came when Baker learned that Barrett-Jackson would be flying him and his wife to Scottsdale Jan. 14-21 for an all-expenses-paid week as VIP guests of the largest annual collector car auction in the world.
"I've been going to AutoFair for years, and this is by far the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me," Baker said.
The road from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Scottsdale was paved with hard work, according to Baker, who has invested thousands of man-hours and dollars in his Buick.
"When I found my GSX 10 years ago, it was literally in pieces on the floor of a paint shop," he recalled. "I liked the fact that it had the biggest V-8 engine anybody ever put in a muscle car-455 cubic inches-and that the GSX was a very rare model. This was Buick's sportiest car in 1970, and it was only available in Saturn Yellow or Apollo White. Adding the GSX package, which included a four-speed transmission, Hurst shifter, mag wheels, bucket seats, various trim upgrades and front and rear spoilers, to the base GS455 increased the sticker price by about 30 percent, so it was a pretty expensive option.
"Of the 678 GSX models they sold, 487 were yellow like mine."
Although he is a fan of the Barrett-Jackson auction and watches SPEED's coverage of the event every year, he has no intention of driving his Buick across the block in Arizona.
"I entertained the idea of selling it last year," Baker said. "I even got an offer of $125,000 for it, but then realized I could never let it go. I've drag raced it. I've taken it to shows. My family and I go to movies in this car.
"I wouldn't trade it for all the Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda convertibles in the world!"
Food Lion AutoFair, the world's largest automotive extravaganza, is held twice each year at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hours for the upcoming spring edition, which takes place April 12-15, are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
For information, contact the speedway events department at 704-455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.