Danny Baker considers himself a “jack of all trades,” but “jack of all wheels” may be a better fit.
The San Francisco photographer, fitness instructor and sports apparel entrepreneur tools around town via skateboard, bicycle, scooter and a vintage Porsche.
On the weekend auto-racing circuit, his wheels spin faster.
Baker averaged 100 mph at last month’s Sonoma Historic Festival as he drove his 1977 McLaren M23 to a Historic Formula One Cars victory at Infineon Raceway.
“It was a great race. The track was still a little dicey because of the rain, but was getting better,” Baker said. “My buddy Steve Cook got by me on the start and won the first five corners; then I got a good run coming out of the Carousel leading to Turn 7.”
In the middle of the 18-car pack was Baker’s father, Bob.
“Dad was oldest in the race by far,” said the younger Baker, who in his early 40s, is the youngest of Bob’s three sons.
Baker recalls that he was 6 or 7 when his dad “went to a 24 hours of Le Mans in France and came back with a race car.” The number of Formula One cars in Bob’s varied collection of racing machines has grown to seven.
A motocross racer as a kid, Danny Baker began racing dad’s cars at 18. His first victory was a Formula Junior at New York’s prestigious Watkins Glen Speedway in 1988.
A sports-marketing job brought the Omaha, Neb., native and Colgate University graduate to San Francisco in 1994, though he didn’t leave behind his passion for auto racing. He earned a spot on the podium in a 2004 Monaco race and won a Formula One race in Long Beach.
The Pacific Heights resident took up cycling originally to stay fit for auto racing. Last month he completed the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, as well as his 16th Iron Man competition (The Coeur d’Alene).
“My dad has gotten fit because of his bicycle and he’s still racing into his 80s,” said Baker, indicating that neither father nor son plan to slow down.
The Bakers will take a short hiatus, however, for Danny’s October wedding to Jenn Hubbard at the Candy Store, originally a Burlingame Packard auto dealership that was converted into a race car garage and clubhouse.
“Keep moving” is Baker’s motto.
“That’s what I tell my classes,” he said referring to his 500 cycling students throughout The City. “Pick something and get fit for it.”
Baker picked wheels and speed. Next up is a three-race entry at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey next month.
FORMULA ONE SPECIFICATIONS: 3-liter motor, 1,100-pound weight minimum, 1-seat, open cockpit, open wheel, tire size restrictions.
BAKER’S TEAMS: Virtuoso Performance, race day partners; Veloce Motors, works on the motors
MORE BAKER: www.dannybakerphotos.com