Employee Profile - Dec 08/Jan 09
“People ask me, ‘You’re all about dentistry, aren’t you?’” says Dr. Charles Wakefield. “Yeah, while I’m here, but you should see me on the weekends.”
As professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry since 1995, Wakefield has challenged many residents. Outside the college’s walls, he challenges himself with sports and high speeds.
For the last few years, Wakefield has enjoyed a new hobby at Texas Motor Speedway. He spends his free time driving racecars as a participant in Team Texas High Performance Driving School.
“Texas Motor Speedway is the only place where you can race actual cars from NASCAR,” Wakefield says. He’s personally driven the race cars for Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton and Clint Boyer.
The driving school offers classes with increasing difficulty and cost, open to anyone. After attending driving classes, participants suit up and drive on the track. Wakefield has developed his skills to the point of being eligible for exclusive races for advanced drivers.
“With those races, it’s more up-close in packs, driving over 160 mph,” he says. He talks excitedly about the bank turns and straightaways on the track.
Wakefield typically races with his friend and colleague Dr. Kelly Kofford, associate professor in diagnostic sciences.
“Dr. Kofford said, ‘I’ve created a monster,’” Wakefield says. “When we’re out there, it’s all about competition, just like the Knuckleheads.”
That’s the name of Wakefield’s cycling club, where he also spends his free time.
The Knuckleheads enter about eight to 10 races a year, just for fun, Wakefield says. In November they raced in southeast France.
His ultimate goal is to ride the course of Giro d’Italia, which is a cycling race in the Italian Alps. Wakefield also wants to improve his auto racing skills and, of course, to continue his practice of dentistry, a profession he selected when he was 10 years old. Aspiring for goals and looking ahead are two of Wakefield’s essential qualities.
“I’ve always had a positive attitude,” he says. “The biggest blessing I was born with is that the glass is always 99 percent full.”
What colleagues say about Wakefield:
Kimberly Southern, clinical services manager in Advanced Education and General Dentistry: Dr. Wakefield is everything a leader should be. He has always treated me like who I can be instead of who I am. He guides without judgment and speaks with respect and encouragement. He is the most generous person I’ve ever met and genuinely wants every resident who enters our program to leave a better dentist and person. I could tell you that he has established the protocol for treatment of cancer patients in the school, but I think the greater contribution is the personal attention he gives each and every patient who visits our clinic; he offers them hope. It is truly an honor to tell you about Dr. Wakefield as it is an honor to work for him.
Dr. Bill Wathen, associate professor in general dentistry: Dr. Wakefield has been my exemplar since I first met him over 15 years ago. He is the consummate master general dentist – incredibly knowledgeable, engagingly enthusiastic, totally dedicated to teaching and clinically competent across all of dentistry! As if that weren’t enough, he is an exceptionally nice person and wonderful friend.
Dr. Kelly Kofford, associate professor in diagnostic sciences: Dr. Wakefield is a caring, genuine person in his position at the school as well as in his personal life. As a result, he always wants others to feel good about themselves. An avid cyclist, Dr. Wakefield will crash his expensive bicycle just to make others feel good about staying upright on theirs. Dr. Wakefield also very much enjoys driving NASCAR cars and allows me to join him on occasion. To help me feel good about myself, he allows me to pass him—repeatedly. In truth, Dr. Wakefield has been my mentor, tormenter, guide, role model and friend for nearly 20 years. I owe any success I’ve been able to achieve during that time to him.