Top Fuel racer Baca asking fans to 'Donate Life' MINNEAPOLIS (August 7) -- Two weeks ago, Mach 1 Air Services Top Fuel driver David Baca went numb when he got the call that his former crew chief and longtime drag racing friend Larry Meyer was ...
Top Fuel racer Baca asking fans to 'Donate Life'
MINNEAPOLIS (August 7) -- Two weeks ago, Mach 1 Air Services Top Fuel driver David Baca went numb when he got the call that his former crew chief and longtime drag racing friend Larry Meyer was being rushed to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic with heart trouble. The early prognosis was that Meyer would probably need a valve transplant.
After spending much of the 2006 NHRA season raising awareness for charities such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Mark Hindy Charitable Foundation benefiting the children of the 9/11 disaster, and Alex's Lemonade Stand for pediatric cancer research, Baca suddenly had a close friend on the serious end of a health issue.
"You never want to get phone calls like that," Baca said. "For my family, it really hit home because my father-in-law Frank [Gau] had the very same procedure they were thinking Larry would need done to him a few years ago. Frank came out of it okay, thank God, but we learned back then how serious the operation can be. It's a scare."
As it turns out, the Mayo Clinic medical staff was able to stop the seepage in Meyer's heart valve, meaning he avoided the transplant procedure. He's now recovering in Dallas and is expected to be back to 100 percent within the next few months.
"I spoke with the doctors and they said he'd be back to his ornery old self in no time," Baca said with a laugh. "In all seriousness, the Mayo Clinic staff is excellent. They're the reason people come from all over the world to Minnesota to get help. They're the best and Larry sounds great. He's relieved to be through this deal."
News of Meyer's plight quickly reached Baca's Top Fuel peer "Hot Rod" Fuller, whose mother Cathy had a liver transplant performed at Rochester's Mayo Clinic in November. Together, the two drivers hatched a plan to try and put the national spotlight on the need for organ donors. They have since aligned themselves with Donate Life America and will display stickers on their respective dragsters to encourage fans onsite and watching on ESPN2 to sign up to become organ donors.
"Mach 1 president Mike Entzminger and I agreed early on that we want to use our racecar for more than racing," Baca said. "Don't get me wrong, we're out to win, no question about it. But we also realize we can give back to the communities where we race, both nationally and locally, and make a difference. It's been a great ride this summer with all the special people we've met and the response of the NHRA fans is always tremendous. I wouldn't expect anything less this weekend.
"It's a big decision for people to decide to become an organ donor. What Rod and I are asking is that people at least take a moment to think about the options they have and maybe realize how many people's lives could be enhanced for the better.
"Rod has invited up the team of doctors that saved his mother and I'm glad they're coming because if Rod and I end up racing each other I'm sure we'll try to rip each other's hearts out, as usual. Then at least we'll have someone there to put us back together. I like the way our Mach 1 dragster is running right now so we'll see how it goes."
Nationally there are more than 92,000 people waiting for an organ transplant and thousands more in need of a tissue transplant. One donor can save or enhance up to 60 lives through organ and tissue donation. Visit www.DonateLife.net for more information.