With all that, the only thing left to do is to start winning. They're setting about it methodically. Baker-Schiff Racing is tucked away where its secret stuff will be safe, in Kannapolis, which is about 15 miles northeast of Charlotte, which is where most of the big-time Grand National teams hang their torque wrenches. Current inventory in the 12,000-square-foot shop includes nine race cars at $60,000 to $70,000 a pop, stacks of engines and what looks to be every transmission in the Carolinas. Between races, Baker lurks about, counting pennies for the first time in his career.
"Nowadays," he says, "if I have to buy some spare parts, I don't just throw 'em in the back of the pickup truck. I put 'em up front with me, right there on the seat, where they won't get hurt."
Not far from the shop, on Lake Norman, Baker leads a laid-back life in a hillside house filled with valuable Chinese art, and has a speedboat tied up at the dock. His two sons, Bryan, 24, and Brandon, 19, work for dad at the shop and help crew the car—and one or both may go into racing some day, thus loosing yet another generation of Bakers on NASCAR.
Meanwhile, the high-speed team of Baker and Schiff is quietly lining up even more sponsors for the season ahead. General Motors has already delivered all the parts for the 1986 Oldsmobiles; they're a slightly more slippery design that will permit even higher speeds. "How about this?" Baker says. "After 26 years of racing, I'm just getting started." Turn that bullfrog loose.