Jim Baker's Then and Now


As Christmas and New Year’s take over our minds during the month of December, we want to take time off from normal drag racing action to thank all of you, everywhere, for your spiritual belief in our sport, community, and God.


From the time I first went to a drag race in Chester, South Carolina, until I left LVMS at the end of the SCSN race, my life has been drag racing. Most of my close friends are those I met through drag racing. Many date back some 50 years and we still visit on the ‘net’ and attend races when possible. I call that the intangible spirit of drag racing!


It goes far beyond those we know personally. Most of us cannot name anytime a racer broken down on the road was not helped by another race team who saw their plight.


One night back in the ‘70s while returning home from the Gatornationals in Florida, an axle perch broke on our trailer allowing the tires to touch each other. We were pondering how to fix it when a team from San Antonio pulled up behind us. After all these years I cannot remember their name but they used a log chain they had and tied the axel so the tires could not rub. We limped into Tallahassee and got the perch welded the next day.  On our way back on I-10 we stopped at their shop and gave them back their chain. That is the spirit of drag racing; all of us have it. That’s how we roll.


This month drag racing pretty much takes a hiatus until Jan. 1. All during this month cars are being prepped for 2018, sponsorship deals are being sought, and a Christmas tree appears at home. We send cards and gifts to family and friends. There is no law that directs us to do so; it is the intangible ‘spirit of Christmas’.

Since Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, I am reminded of the move toward Christianity which has evolved in our sport. A few years ago, Mike Thomas would always raise his hand to the heavens and thank God for his Pro Stock wins. This last season there are too many to name. It seems these generations of drag racers realize there must be a greater power that guides us. It is the intangible spirit of ‘The Holy Ghost’.


We recently attended the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Nationals at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports venue. One of the most notable points to this writer was the perseverance of the Racers for Christ who manned the launch area the entire time of the three-day race to give prayer and spiritual guidance to every boat that went into the uncertain water.

The RFC (Racers For Christ) crew worked all day in the hot Arizona sun to give prayer and solace to every racer.


The final intangible for drag racers is Love of Country, the great American Spirit deep in all of us. At each 2017 drag race we attended, everyone stood at attention with their head dress over their heart during the playing of our National Anthem! No one took a knee or sat on the ground or fired up their engine during the entire song.

Last year, during our ‘Bucket List’ trip, we stopped in Wayland, Missouri, during the much heralded ‘Rust Revival’. It was loud and wild with some great show cars, lots of ‘rat rods’ and a drag race for Nitro Mini Bikes. In spite of the chaos all over the town, at high noon, they presented the US Colors, played the National Anthem, and had a prayer.  All this was accomplished with choppers, uniformed service men, and veterans in the center of town.

(photo by Jim Kelso)


Everyone stood at attention at Tucson Dragway recently during the playing of our National Anthem; including racers, track personnel, military service men in uniform and the track owner, Jim Hughes. Scenes like this occur all across the land.


A big difference from drag racing ‘back in the day’ is our present day ability to communicate. We now enjoy the internet which was not available during races when I was active. Racers of today are ‘friends’ with many colleagues, some they have never met except for the I-net. My own friends list is extensive and yet there is seldom any negative message from my friends. The overwhelming posts are prayer and good thoughts for comrades who are in need!

Drag racing ‘superstar’ Erica Enders always gives glory to God when she wins in the tough Pro Stock category.


It is scenes like this and those standing at attention during our National Anthem that prevails as we head into an exciting 2018 season.


We thank God and the Holy Spirit for the Christmas Celebration of the birth of Christ; and if God and Jeff Burk are willing, we will continue reporting on local drag racing and offering ‘Then & Now’ during the New Year.


MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all. THANK YOU for the opportunity to write this!


Until next time, Be on Time! 


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