Sunday 12th March 1882
Born on this day, Erwin George “Cannon Ball” Baker, a motorcycle and automobile racing driver and organizer in the first half of the 20th century.Baker began his public career as a vaudeville performer, but turned to driving and racing after winning a dirt-track motorcycle race in Crawfordsville, Indiana in about 1904. He was also famous for his record-setting point-to-point drives, in which he was paid to promote the products of various motorcycle and automobile manufacturers. In all, he made 143 cross-country motorcycle speed runs totaling about 550,000 miles (890,000 km). In 1908, Baker purchased an Indian motorcycle and began entering and winning local races. His most famous victory came in 1909 at the first race ever held at the newly built Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Baker also raced at the 1922 Indianapolis 500, placing 11th in a Frontenac. He later became the first commissioner of NASCAR.