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Joyce Endee

Diane Baker inducted into Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Pictured here is early snowmobile racer Diane Baker holding aloft her plaque at her induction she never dreamed would ever happen. Baker was inducted into the Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame on Sept. 11. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 16, 2021
LANCASTER — On Sept. 11, Diane Baker was inducted into the Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame in Lancaster at Crane's Snowmobile Museum. The non-profit organization was spearheaded by Paul T. Crane, who thought it was important to recognize first generation eastern snowmobile racers. They are dubbed 'the original warriors of winter' by those in the organization.

What many don't know, is that Lancaster is where racing sleds began. In 1959, Lancaster introduced the Bombardier Ski-doo to the country. In February of 1962, The Lancaster Grand Prix was held with the winner receiving the infamous Kilkenny Cup. During that time, this was the race to be at, and that was the prize to collect.

Baker began racing in 1968. Her first race did not end well after she crashed a family members brand new Ski-doo 12.3. On that same day however, the tides shifted and she won her second race driving a 640 TNT. Baker took a few years off from racing while her husband served in Vietnam. She then went on to finish third in points during the 1972-73 season and was the only woman in the east to qualify for the World Series that year.

After becoming more well known and collecting more wins, Baker became High Point Champion in women's #1 for the first time in 1977. Other accolades include being voted USSA Eastern Woman Driver of the Year and received a sportsmanship award as well.

Organization member Midge Rosebrook explained, "She made "Women's High Point Champion" in Mod #1, ESRA Division from 1981 to 1986 and took second in points for the 1986/87 season and grabbed 2nd in the World Series at Skowhegan, Maine."

During the 1987-88 season she was High Point Champion in women's #1 and #2 and earned the title of "ESRA Woman Driver of the Year." From 1988-1991 she would remain High Point Champion and took first place in the World Series at Schroon Lake, N.Y.

In the men's division, she became the overall champion in 1991. After winning many more titles up until 2000, Baker served on the USSA Driver's Committee on the Eastern Board of Directors in WSRF, ESRA and PRO. She also served as secretary for the Board and was a NYS Snowmobile Safety instructor for 14 years.

Recently, Baker shared a photo of her first sled in 1969. Describing the photo, she said, "This little sled huddled behind our barn, covered with sheet metal and more, has been resting for many years. It has faithfully provided entertainment to many members of the Baker clan."

Baker added, "For Grandpa Baker, it was a workhorse for firewood, trapline and maple sap gathering. It had multiple owners within the family for toboggan pulling, ice fishing and just tearing up the trails. But on a snowy day in Jan. 1969, this little sled belonged to me and I ran my first ever race with it. Jere Baker says the Olympic 12-3 ss motor (inside the barn) still turns over. Wonder how I can convince him this little sled deserves to run again?"

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