Jack Baldwin turned around what had been a disappointing 1993 season at Mid-Ohio, leading start to finish to win the Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli feature.
Baldwin was carrying the champion’s No. 1 on Buz McCall’s Mattel Hot Wheels Chevrolet Camaro. He snapped teammate Scott Sharp’s three-race winning string, and began his own two-race streak to end the season.
“I remember that one well — I put it on the [outside] pole and led flag to flag,” Baldwin recalled. “I remember saying, ‘Man, this doesn’t go like this very often, I’m lucky.’ Especially in Trans Am.”
Tommy Archer actually was credited with fast time with a lap of 1m22.651s in the No. 3 Shellzone Dodge Daytona, but that wasn’t going to spoil Baldwin’s weekend.
“I remember when we qualified, it was starting to rain. I was talking to Herb Fischel (director of GM Motorsports), and I said, ‘Hey, I’ve gotta go.’ I jumped in the car, I knew I needed to hit the number quick, so I hauled ass and got the pole. I came in, got out of the car, and continued talking to Herb.”
Baldwin left no doubt who was the fastest with the drop of the green flag. He went directly to the front, pulled away from the 38-car field, and led the rest of the way, beating Bobby Archer in the No. 9 Shell Fire & Ice Dodge Daytona by 0.423s. He averaged 81.889mph.
Irv Hoerr took third in the No. 13 Software Engineering of America Camaro, followed by Paul Gentilozzi in the No. 28 Rocketsports Camaro, Sharp, Tommy Archer, Greg Pickett, Jeff Purner, Ron Fellows and Dorsey Schroeder.
“It was an outstanding day,” Baldwin said. “In those days, there were 15 guys who could win the race. It was tough. It was a battle every time.
“I remember we had the same body on the car for two cars, which was wild. We raced hard, but we didn’t wreck each other. That’s the difference between then and now. I remember after every race, Buz and I would walk around the car and count the doughnuts, the tire rings. I would average about five to seven. But those were tire rings, not wrecks. You did everything in close quarters; it was always tight.”
Baldwin then ended the year by winning on the streets of Dallas. He ended up third in the points, with 306 points, trailing Sharp (372) and Fellows (314). Sharp won six races and Fellows three, with Baldwin the only other multiple-race winner.
“’93 was a terrible year for me, to be honest,” said Baldwin, who completed every lap of every race in winning the 1992 crown. “Everything went wrong. It was just a bad year. I did what I could do, but it was tough.”
Baldwin took satisfaction of winning five times at Mid-Ohio in five different categories: GTU, GTO, Camel Lights, World Sports Car and Trans Am.
“My very first professional win was at Mid-Ohio, driving a Mazda RX-7 with Joe Varde in the Lumbermans 500,” he recalled.