HORSHAM speedway driver Kevin Baker has survived more than his fair share of battles over the years.
Baker took up racing 46 years ago at the age of 19, and he founded the limited sportsman class almost 35 years ago.
On February 15, at 65 years of age, he placed fifth out of 20 competitors in the 2013-14 Limited Sportsman Victorian State Titles at Western Speedway in Hamilton.
Proud son Clint Baker explained it hasn’t always been an easy ride for the passionate Wimmera speedway driver, who has been up against it both on and off the track.
“He has always had passion for motor sport,” he said.
“He founded the class of limited sportsman back in November 1979 and to this day still races the same class.”
“It’s a testament to him considering his illnesses and outlook on life itself.”
Baker said his father had overcome leukemia, a heart attack and open heart surgery, and in the past 12 months had fought off pneumonia twice and kidney failure.
“He’s been through a lot, and speedway has probably been a bit of an outlet for him,” Clint said.
“The past 10 years or so have been the hardest.”
Perhaps appropriately, the experienced Horsham driver was one of just a handful of competitors in the state titles to finish on a night punctuated by crashes.
“It was an interesting night, there were a fair few crashes,” fellow competitor Jock Baker said.
“Some erratic driving took out a fair few cars, there were even cars getting taken out down the straights.”
“I think only five finished.”
Jock looked a chance to compete for the title after second and third-placed finishes in the first two heats, before a crash put an end to his chances.
“We’ve got a bit of a team going,” he said.
“I just said to him before the race, keep it straight and keep out of the crashes.”
“He managed to get through alright.”
Baker matched his fifth-placed finish at the same track in the 2007-08 state title.