Pomona: David Baca preview

David Baca begins first full year on NHRA Top Fuel circuit. POMONA, Calif. -- Second generation drag racer David Baca, from Brentwood, Calif., who earned his Top Fuel license in August of 2002, will begin his first full year of Top Fuel ...

David Baca begins first full year on NHRA Top Fuel circuit.

POMONA, Calif. -- Second generation drag racer David Baca, from Brentwood, Calif., who earned his Top Fuel license in August of 2002, will begin his first full year of Top Fuel professional competition at this weekend's K&N Filters Winternationals (Feb. 6-9), the season-opening event on the 2003 NHRA POWERADE ® Drag Racing Series.

"Drag racing got into my blood at an early age. As the son of a drag racer, it was a natural progression that I gravitated to the sport also," reflected Baca. "I was raised in the 60's and '70's on the race tracks of California. I went from the womb to the cradle to the stroller to the track. I was out there in the old days when my dad (Dennis Baca) was racing with Don Garlits and the other drivers that made the sport what it is today. "

After a brief feet wetting experience in drag racing, the younger Baca started a flooring business in the Bay Area of California and once it became successful took his turn at establishing a drag racing career.

"It was work first, then racing. In '86 or '87, or there about, I decided to put a hot rod together and go racing. The alcohol car was the first thing I ever drove. It was pretty aggressive; it took me a while to adjust. It was a learning curve. We ran that and did quite well. In 1994, I took a break from the demands of racing to focus on raising a family and to continue to grow my flooring business in Northern California."

When Baca ended his self-imposed hiatus in 1999, he formed an alliance with Ray Strasser with the duo fielding and advancing the technology of the A-Fuel Dragster in Top Alcohol Dragster (TAD). Baca, racing an A-Fuel Dragster, was the first TAD driver to record a pass in the 5.2-second range. He also put his mark on the NHRA speed record books and currently holds the NHRA TAD national speed record at 274.44 mph, which he set at Phoenix in early 2001.

Baca's longtime friendship with Rick Henkelman dates back to the late 80s when the pair developed a friendly rivalry in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class. The union with Henkelman and the formation of Henkelman & Baca Motorsports began at the end of 2001 when Henkelman and Baca began exploring the opportunities of fielding a Top Fuel Dragster.

One week prior to the 2002 K&N Filters Winternationals this became a reality with veteran Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan at the wheel. The team finished in fifth in the final 2002 POWERADE Top Fuel point standings.

With his Top Fuel license in hand, Baca did run the final two national events on the 2002 NHRA POWERADE schedule in a second Henkelman & Baca Motorsports dragster. At Las Vegas 2 he just missed the field but then qualified for his first Top Fuel competition at the season-final event in Pomona (Calif.).

"I think every racer out here has the dream to race at the top level -- Top Fuel," said Baca. " For me it's just a natural progression in my drag racing career. It's taken me a little longer than others but hopefully, we're here to stay. Our goals call for us to be a force in this class for a long time to come.

"I'm looking forward to my first K&N Filters Winternationals. We started last year off with a good showing in Pomona and I hope to do the same this time out. We have set a goal to equal or better the point finish that we had in 2002 when we finished fifth. We have a new (for us) but experience crew chief in Johnny West, a great group of crewmen assembled, have run respectable number in preseason and our entire team feel that a fifth place finish is not unrealistic. We are still working on finalizing both primary and associate marketing partners and hope to announce something very soon."

Baca, 43, has been married for 18 years to Michele and the couple has two children, a daughter Alexandra and a son David, Jr.

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers David Baca , Don Garlits , Cory McClenathan