Reading: David Baca Saturday summary

Baca's Mach 1 team ready to rock Reading READING, Pa. (Sept. 30) -- Two weeks ago when the 22nd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals was originally scheduled to run, the weather in Eastern Pennsylvania couldn't have been worse. Now, as the ...

Baca's Mach 1 team ready to rock Reading

READING, Pa. (Sept. 30) -- Two weeks ago when the 22nd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals was originally scheduled to run, the weather in Eastern Pennsylvania couldn't have been worse. Now, as the rain-postponed event comes back to life, the exact opposite is true -- things couldn't be any better.

Racing under optimum weather conditions with cool temperatures and low barometric pressure, David Baca and the Mach 1 Air Services racing team have returned to Maple Grove Raceway with designs on riding a fast tune-up to their first win of the season. Baca and crew have already been close, finishing runner-up earlier this season in Pomona. Now they want to finish the job.

"We knew this year was going to be a bit of a learning curve for this team," Baca said. "We're experiencing some firsts as far as places we've been with this particular tune-up and attire and with Rick [Henkelman, crew chief] in charge of this group of guys. But the progress we've made is nothing short of amazing to me. Just to see the team camaraderie we've developed and the runs we're able to make with this car is exciting."

Case in point, Baca successfully qualified for this event with a 4.674 at 312.28 mph. The run placed him firmly in the field and sets up a first-round showdown with red-hot Brandon Bernstein, who used a 4.528 at 325.69 mph to earn the No. 4 position. Baca and Bernstein have raced one another seven times with Baca holding a 4-3 advantage.

"I say bring 'em on," Baca said. "I have tremendous respect for my fellow competitors but when we get on the racetrack, I want to beat them as much as anything. This is what we do and the spirit of competition is what drives us. The challenges of this class are tremendous and they get tougher each race. But we're rising to the occasion."

Before elimination racing begins. Baca will lead off prerace ceremonies by honoring the victims of 9/11 with two very special helmet presentations. The helmets, a genuine New York City firefighter's helmet and a special 9/11 tribute racing helmet, were used as the centerpieces of a massive auction to raise money for the Mark Hindy Charitable Foundation, a 501c3 organization that distributes money to children of the 9/11 attacks.

Baca will award this year's grand prizes to Ed Alessi Sr. and Sara Winzer. Alessi, a Super Gas racer from Howard Beach, N.Y., won the firefighter's helmet, while Winzer will receive the 9/11 tribute helmet.

"It's an honor for Mach 1 and I to be a part of this ceremony," Baca said. "We had a great time with this deal and they tell me they raised more than twice the amount they raised last year, so we're excited for the Mark Hindy Charity. We're going to try even harder next year, but first we'll hand out these awesome helmets."

-credit: dbr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers David Baca , Brandon Bernstein