Chevrolet Corvette racing legend John Greenwood died on July 7. He was 71. The son of a General Motors executive, the Michigan-born engineer/driver began his career in autocross events in 1968, competing in a brand new big-block Stingray. Greenwood sealed his first SCCA A Production drivers’ title in 1970, before claiming a repeat win in ’71, his brother Burt being a key collaborator and foil. Greenwood also dominated the 1975 Trans-Am series but is best remembered for his endurance racing exploits.
His stars and stripes-liveried Corvettes proved blisteringly fast, even if they didn’t have the greatest finishing record. Greenwood and TV personality Dick Smothers won their class in the ’71 Sebring 12 Hours, while Greenwood-built ’Vettes retired from the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1972-73 and on their final visit in ’76. In its ultimate incarnation, Greenwood’s 725bhp wide-bodied ‘Super Corvette’ had an independently verified top speed of 221mph.
NASCAR star Elzie Wylie ‘Buddy”Baker has died after a battle with cancer. He was 74. Baker raced in NASCAR’s top series for 33 years from 1959-1992, winning 19 races including the Southern 500 in 1970, Talladega four times and the Daytona 500 in 1980.
Driving Harry Ranier’s Oldsmobile in 1980, Baker set a record race average for the Daytona 500 that still stands today – 177.602mph. Baker was the son of 1950s NASCAR star Buck Baker.
Often called the ‘Gentle Giant’ (he was 6ft 6in), Baker retired from racing in 1992 and made a successful transition to TV and radio.