ALVARADO, Texas — Among all of the successful short track racers in North Texas, there is one who perhaps shouldn't be visiting Victory Lane quite so often. No, it isn't because he doesn't belong there, or has no idea how to thank the fine folks who helped get him there. Far from it, in fact.
What you may find surprising, however, is just how little seat time he has overall. But while this hobby is fairly new to him, he sure is a quick study. For 23-year-old second generation racer Cody Baker, the Factory Stock division is an ideal learning environment. This year, it's all coming together quite nicely.
Baker has earned four wins, 15 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 25 starts this year. He's on a roll.
“I think the reason this year is going so well is the effort this team has been making,” Baker explained. “Me, my Dad, my brother and my crew have all put our heads together this year. We've been busting our butts trying to make sure the car is 100 percent ready for race nights.
“We've been doing our homework, really studying up on getting faster. I think that's why this season stands out above past years. It's really nice when it comes together and that hard work starts to pay off.”
Baker comes from a racing family, yet spent most of his youth pursuing a completely different hobby.
“June 11th marked three years since the first time I hit the track,” he said. “So technically, I only have two and half years of seat time. I'm still learning my way around. My Dad used to race in Kennedale back when it was Cowtown Speedway. So I grew up around the sport. He quit racing in about 2004.
“We actually picked up a new hobby after that, we started team roping together. For the majority of my life, right up until I turned 21, that was my focus. I had to quit that hobby before I could go racing. We were sitting out one Sunday and I saw a car for sale, and I went and bought it. It took off from there.”
Some may question Baker's choice of divisions to enter when he first jumped into short track racing.
“I did in fact end up in one of the most competitive classes in Texas,” he said. “But I also know that racing against the best forces me to learn more, to get up on the wheel and work hard at improving our chassis setups for different track conditions. So it's tough, sure, but anything worth doing will be hard.
“The level of competition in Factory Stock across North Texas is well known. And the further East you go, the tougher it gets. When I first got started, they handed me my butt every week. But we kept at it, taking notes and working to get faster. Now, we're getting a handle on it and can run with those guys.”
When Baker puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he climbs into a rather unique machine.
“I have a 2018 BBD chassis here built by Demetrius Carter,” he explained. “I had seen the BBD and 'Built by Demetrius' on it, but didn't know his reputation. I was told if I was going to jump into Factory Stock to start learning, I needed one of his cars. I bought it, and am very happy with the performance.
“Demetrius is a good friend of my Dad's, they raced together in his day. This has been a phenomenal car. The body on it was built by Demetrius last year, and it definitely stands out. It's a more unique looking car than most, and I like it. That man has so many ways to make a car get around the track.”
Along with his obvious natural driving talent and rock-solid race car, Baker also has some good people on board who keep his race team on-track and successful.
“I have a very supportive family and some great sponsors,” he said. “I need to thank my father and mother, Rusty and Candy Baker; my brother Ryan, my friends Garrett and Noah, who help out at the track and of course my wife, Natali, who supports me at all times. I couldn't do it without them.
“I also need to thank our valued sponsors, including BBD Racing, Jacob Pirkle at Undercover Shocks, who has been super helpful finding speed for us; Diamond Diesel, Elite Health & Infusion Therapy and HD Chassis. I appreciate all they do for my racing program and try to represent them as best I can.”
With the heat of summer now here and racing season at full throttle, Baker knows what he wants to do.
“We chased a points title last year and finished second,” he said. “This year, I think it's more about the quality time with family and making memories while we can. I think we're going to do a little bit more traveling around, maybe a few weekend getaways. We're going to Ardmore for a show in two weeks.
“With Kennedale being 15 minutes down the road from our house, and having such a nice track prepped by Bo every week, it's a no-brainer for us to race there often. With the nice facility, clean restrooms, the car count and packed grandstands, we just love it. I sure am having a blast this season.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Mike Frieri