Vice President/General Manager
Steve Baker (co-owner of Mark Richards Racing, inc dba Rocket Chassis) has been involved in racing since he was two weeks old. His first trip to the racetrack was Morgantown Speedway (Morgantown, WV) in 1957.
Fast forward to the late 70s and he started driving dirt late models for various people including himself. In the early 80s, he drove dirt cars for Pennsylvania’s Denny Angelicci (a mutual friend with Mark Richards). In 1984, he got his first late model from WRC Race Cars. WRC assembled Bullitt Chassis from Ray Callahan for customers in the Pennsylvania/Ohio/West Virginia region
I was first introduced to Mark while he was working for WRC in the early 80s. We got to each know each other better through the Angeliccio
In 1986 Mark left WRC and was at a cross roads at what he wanted to do professionally with his life. Their mutual friend Denny had an auto auction in Pennsylvania. Mark attended the auctions with Denny and Baker and at that time, he was going to start himself in the car sales business. Over time, Steve and Denny convinced Mark to get back into dirt racing.
Steve and his son Frankie in victory lane at PPMS in the mid-2000s
That’s how Mark Richards Racing, Inc. (MRRI) was created. Richards, Baker and Angeliccio were the principal investors in MRRI along with a few minor investors who over time sold their shares to Baker & Richards.They built their shop in Shinnston, WV along the hillside overlooking Interstate 79. Angeliccio was too busy to deal with the day to day activities at MRRI, so he sold his share of the business to Baker. From 1986 – 1991, Mark and Steve sold and prepared Bullitt Chassis for customers to race. They would drive to Indiana to pick up the cars and assemble them in their Shinnston, WV shop. Business was good. Baker and Richards always had ideas on how to better things, it was a matter of time before the ideas translated to the chassis.
The B5 belonged to Baker's close personal friend Denny Angelicchio
Baker in the Bill Bland #0 at PPMS in 2003
Phil Lukon was a car owner that Steve drove for through the years.
In 1991, business was slow. As Baker said, we were “flat ass broke, but there was no one I'd rather be in this with than Mark Richards. He is the hardest working person in this business. He's the most determined person I know."
Baker and Richards convinced Ray Callahan to create a car to their specs to help increase sales. Callahan was resistant to changing his product, but Baker & Richards knew that times were changing and the Bullitt Chassis needed to evolve with the current times.
Davey Johnson & Mike Balzano drove the two new style Bullitt cars. At their debut at West Virginia Motor Speedway, Davey Johnson won two A-Mains in the same day and Balzano finished right behind Johsnon. That proved that the new design by Baker & Richards worked well. On the Monday following the race at WVMS, Ray Callahan called and told Mark & Steve that he would not build anymore of those style cars.
That phone call was the catalyst for Rocket Chassis. Going forward, Baker & Richards decided to manufacture their chassis in house at their Shinnston, WV. Mark & Steve hired Scott Purkey who they knew from the WRC days to manufacture the cars. Due to the success of Johnson and Balzano, Mark & Steve built 30 racecars during the winter of 91.
The partnership with Bill Bland and Steve lasted well over 10 years. This was one of the original #0 that Steve drove for Bland.
The best place to catch Steve is out on the shop floors putting decks and their components on their race cars.
"I never wanted to get a job!" stated Baker on how this got started. "Yes it's a job and this is work, but we're having fun with it. We're living out everyone's fantasy by playing with racecars in the dirt!"
Since then, Baker promoted I-79 Speedway for 14 years to help grow the sport and support their business at Rocket Chassis.
He just recently retired from driving full-time to focus more on Rocket Chassis and his family.
You'll see Steve at the shop everyday managing the production of the cars. His specialty is installing decks on the Rocket Chassis.
Where does Steve see the sport? "The money factor is driving alot of people away from it, but we're as busy as we've ever been. We desperately need to get kids back in the sport and get their hands dirty working on cars to increase their interest in the sport."