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© 1996-2008 by
Ken R. Noffsinger
All Rights Reserved
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200 MPH Record Run
By Ken R. Noffsinger

PAGE UPDATE: Video highlights of the run are now available here. Jim McKay of ABC's Wide World of Sports narrates. Thanks to Pedro in Brazil for making this rare video available!

On March 24, 1970, Buddy Baker guided the Chrysler Engineering #88 Dodge Daytona to a closed course speed record of 200.447 MPH, becoming the first stock car driver to officially exceed the magic 200 MPH mark. The present owner of #88, Greg Kwiatkowski, has made several photos available (some never before seen) of this historic event. In addition, Greg has provided Chrysler's press release about this record breaking effort.

Click on a photo to view the full size version.
[#88 On The Track] [#88 On The Track]
[#88 On The Track]
Buddy Baker at Alabama International Motor Speedway during the afternoon hours of Tuesday, March 24, 1970. Lap 30 was the first time that Baker actually broke the 200 MPH barrier. Lap 34 was the fastest of the day, netting Buddy the 200.447 MPH record mark.

[#88 In The Pits] [#88 In The Pits]
[#88 In The Pits] [#88 In The Pits]
In the pits at Talladega, Alabama. At top right, the Chrysler Special Vehicles Group's Larry Rathgeb and driver Buddy Baker review data about the Daytona's performance. The bottom right photo finds Chrysler Engineering mechanics Fred Schrandt (left) and the late Larry Knowlton (right) working on the 426 Hemi.

[Press Release Photo] [Press Release Photo]
These two photos accompanied the press release text found below.

From:	Cotton Owens Garage
        7065 White Ave.
        Spartanburg, S. C.

                                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

        TALLADEGA, Ala. -- There's a magic barrier in all sports:     

the 4 minute mile in track, the 60 home runs in baseball, and the 

200 mile lap in auto racing.

        In 1954 Roger Bannister broke the record for the mile by 

turning in a 3 minute 59.4 record run. Since then 6 other people 

have cracked that magic barrier, but the name of Bannister still 

stands in the record books as the man who did it first.

        In 1961 Roger Maris hit 61 home runs eclipsing the record of 

60 homers established by Babe Ruth in 1927. Maris now holds the 

record, but oldsters will always remind us that Babe Ruth got his 

runs in fewer games.

        In auto racing, as in track, the distance and challenge never 

change. The qualifying record at Indianapolis is 171.953 miles per 

hour for the sleek, specially-built championship race cars.

        But the magic goal has always been to run a 200 mph lap on a 

closed course. Drivers have been tantalizingly close. Last year 

Charlie Glotzbach moved the record up to 199.446 in a qualifying run 

at the then new Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega, 


                              - more -

                                - 2 -

	Charlie's car was the new Dodge Charger Daytona, probably 

the most aerodynamic stock car ever built. It featured a low, 

pointed nose and had a high safety stabilizer mounted on the rear.

It was quickly nicknamed "the winged thing".....and when Charlie

won the pole, it became "the good winged thing".
	The stage was set. This is where the magic barrier would 

probably be broken. The 2.66 mile tri-oval track with its 33-degree 

banking showed promise of a great future.

	On March 24th Buddy Baker was at Talladega for a series of 

engineering tests on transmission durability. He drove test car #88, 

and it seemed possible that this all-out driver might break the 200 

mile barrier. If he did he'd make history, but that history would 

always be subject to question unless the timing was official.

	The rain out of the Atlanta race forced postponement of three 

other NASCAR Grand National races this week, and the officials were 

available. Chief NASCAR Timer and Scorer Joe Epton brought his 

timing equipment to Talladega....just in case.

	The odds weren't good. Like the song says: "When it's a rainy 

night in Georgia, it seems like it's raining all over the world". 

Last week more than 10 inches of rain fell on Alabama. On Monday it 

rained some more. On Tuesday morning there was another thunderstorm. 

The track was not only wet, but any rubber which had been embedded

in the track was washed away. A washed down track is traditionally 


                              - more -

                                - 3 -

	But the skies cleared, the sun came out and patches in the    

track started drying out. But it took a full dry track for tests 

such as these. Noontime came and went, and by mid afternoon the 

track looked fit. Epton and his observers and the clocks were in 


	First runs were good for testing, but looked bad on the 

clocks. The speeds started at 194 and then moved up to 198.5 as 

Baker "looked for the groove" and the pit crew kept adjusting to 

get the right chassis set-up.

	Buddy Baker, 29, the 6'5" son of one of stock cars most 

colorful drivers, was ready and relaxed. He'd shot skeet the 

afternoon before and expected to go fishing later in the day. He 

loves the outdoors and this was a holiday.

	On the 30th lap, Joe Epton let out a whoop. The time was 

47.857 and the speed was 200.096. Buddy and his Dodge Charger 

Daytona had done it. The barrier was broken and they flagged Buddy 

in to tell him the good news. His name would now go into the world 

record books as the first driver to break the magic 200 mile per hour 

lap barrier.

	The crew, the engineers, officials and Goodyear Tire crew 

went wild. History had been made, and they were all part of the 

scene. A stock car racer -- their kind of racer -- had done it.

But after a few minutes	of celebration, things returned	to normal. 

The engineers took over. The test was to go on. Buddy said: "you 

better keep watching, maybe I'll do it again."

                              - more -

                                - 4 -

	Engineer Larry Rathgeb reminded Buddy that he was here        

for a test, not a race. "Just get out there and give us some 

good, hard steady laps and forget about racing. You've already 

got your record, so now help me get my test done. Then we'll 

all go fishing."

	Buddy climbed back into the car and started methodically 

circling the track in "his groove". Joe Epton and his crew of 

observers kept watching the clocks. It was obvious that Baker 

was still deadly serious about running hard on every lap.

	The numbers on the clocks flicked away. All laps were 

close at 200 miles and two more were over. One was at 200.330 

and a lap time of 47.807. Another was 200.447 and 47.773 seconds.
	Not only had the 200 mile mark been broken, but Buddy had 

bettered on three separate occasions. Now he settled down and ran 

steadily. That was his job. Today he was a test driver, not a 


                                # # #


PAGE UPDATE: The above press release incorrectly gives credit for the 200 MPH Dodge Daytona's preparation and performance to the Cotton Owens Garage. Below is the text of a presentation that Larry Rathgeb gave to the Daytona Superbird Auto Club in 1994. In fact, Larry and a Chrysler crew from Huntsville were responsible for the car's preparation and performance - Larry sets the record straight here. The Owens press release was found between pages 2 and 7 of the Rathgeb presentation below, and was eliminated for the sake of brevity.

Cotton Owens Press Release Text Appeared Here