The former champion reflects on the realities of life after his tragic crash.
Brad “The Bullet” Baker spent almost two-decades rising through the ranks, proving himself, and carving out a more-than-impressive flat track career. After earning his first (West Coast) AMA Amateur National Championship at the age of 6, Baker went on to later secure a 2013 Grand National Championship title, as well as a seat aboard the series’ premier factory race team, the Indian Wrecing Crew. Baker’s career in the fast lane sadly came to an abrupt end when on July 22nd, 2018, the #6 rider suffered a violent crash at X Games Minneapolis, leaving the Washington-native with a forever life-altering spinal injury.
“I remember waking up and not being able to feel anything from my chest down…scariest memory of my life,” recalls Baker. “The way I landed compressed my spine and broke my T6 vertebrae, and bone fragment goes into the spinal cord, and here we are.”
After months of painful recovery and an intensive physical therapy regiment, Baker was finally able to get back on a bike, though he knows all too well that his days of pro racing are behind him. Just because Brad could no longer serve as a factory team rider, didn’t mean there wasn’t still a place for the ex-GNC champ on the Wrecking Crew. Though Baker’s role no longer sees him in the saddle of an FTR750, he remains a valued member of the factory American squad.
Baker now acts as an official rider coach for the team’s Bauman brothers (Briar and Bronson), while simultaneously serving as a technical advisor to the Indian flat track team. “It feels good to know that people see a value in me past just riding a motorcycle,” states Baker, who also now occasionally moonlights as an AFT commentator.
The same strength, determination, and perseverance that brought Baker to the height of AFT Racing are the same qualities that've enabled him to face whatever challenges life's thrown at him. Though the book might have closed on Baker’s time on the dirt oval, the story of Brad Baker’s impact on motorcycling is far from over.