Don Baker Race car
With my dad’s 70th birthday around the corner, I started thinking about all of the things he has done—including everything from being a disc jockey to a race car driver. He was born in an apartment above a grocery store in Cambridge, Ohio. When my grandfather came back from the war and went to work for the pipeline, the family followed behind in a small trailer that traveled to construction locations around the country. Because of that, my dad has lived in more places than I can count.
My dad never laid down roots for long as a kid, so that may explain why he has stayed in the Akron area for so long as an adult. He wasn’t born here, but he was most certainly put together here.
When my dad worked for Babcox Publications in Akron in the late ’60s, he covered many of the big races. It turned out that he loved the atmosphere of gasoline and smoking tires so much that he passed it down to his two sons who both were afflicted with the same fever. Imagine the eyes of a 6-year-old when his dad says he just traded a dune buggy for some quarter midget racers, and asks, “Would you like to race?”
My dad gave up nearly everything he had to help my brother and I try to achieve our racing dreams. While most parents say the minute you graduate from high school you should go to college, my dad (and mom) knew we had other dreams to pursue first. He never said it was impossible or that we weren’t talented enough or that we should be realistic. He rolled up his sleeves and taught us everything he knew and helped guide us on the path we thought was best to achieve our goals. He taught us how to dream and how to make those dreams into reality when most parents would say, “You’re wasting your time,” or ask, “Why don’t you get a real job?” Eventually we got real jobs and started a publishing company with my dad leading the way.
While my dad may not have possessed the genes that allow him to properly sear meat over fire, he possesses in spades a passion for life and a belief that things will be better in the future. I only hope to get a sliver of that gene someday. Maybe he is storing it in some garage or vault somewhere for the rest of us. We may joke around that he sees life through rose-colored glasses, but in the grand scheme of things isn’t life more about the journey than the