SONOMA, Calif.- Ask David Baca when he first got hooked on drag racing, and you might get a funny answer. The 45-year-old Top Fuel pilot has been addicted to side-by-side racing for nearly 46 years now. "I'm pretty sure my interest in drag...
SONOMA, Calif.- Ask David Baca when he first got hooked on drag racing, and you might get a funny answer. The 45-year-old Top Fuel pilot has been addicted to side-by-side racing for nearly 46 years now.
"I'm pretty sure my interest in drag racing started when I was still in the womb," Baca said. "My father was a racer, and I am second generation drag racing addict. My dad started in cars, then he migrated to boats for a while. He came back to dragsters in the '60s with Jim Davis and Don Cook and all of those guys. They were all part of that era. I was born and raised with that group of drag racing guys."
Baca hasn't looked back since. He now drives a Top Fuel entry - the American Racing Wheels dragster. For the first time since moving up into the nitro category, Baca will be competing at his hometown track. Baca will be vying for the winner's trophy at Infineon Raceway this weekend.
Like many other NHRA competitors, Baca has worked his way through the ranks. He started on the sidelines, keeping his eyes wide-open all the time.
"I remember going to race three nights a week when I was a kid and my dad was racing," Baca said. "We would go to the track in Fremont (Calif.) before going to Southern California and hitting places like Irwindale and Orange County. That is how I got involved. I was one of the kids that grew up around the sport. When I started to show an interest in driving, my father told me to go out and get a job so I could start paying for everything. I had to work very hard to get here and I am happy that I did. It makes it more special.
"I'm very proud to say that I am self-made and I am here on my own and happy to be here. I hope to be around for a long time."
Baca has made three semifinal round appearances in the first 12 races of the season and is eighth in the Top Fuel standings.
"There have been highs and lows this year but I still think our mid-year review is looking good," Baca said. "We have gone into a little slump lately, but I hope to get that monkey off my back as soon as possible. We were in the top five (after the Las Vegas event in April) and we are aiming to go back. We have quality guys and the right equipment. We just lack the major funding that some of the other teams have. Hopefully that will come into the picture soon and we can compete with the bigger teams week in and week out."
Before making his way to the nitro category, Baca spent some time in Top Alcohol. Infineon Raceway holds plenty of good memories for Baca and he is looking forward to making a return trip to the Sonoma Valley.
"Coming home is always a challenge because there is such excitement surrounding the event," Baca said. "I've had great moments at Sonoma, going back to its inception. My father was one of the first drivers to make a run down that track. I won my first Top Alcohol Divisional race there and that was pretty cool. That was in 1989 and the year before that, I went to my first final round event in Sonoma too.
"I've had a lot of success there and it is always nice to come home. We are going to have lots of friends, family members and clients. We are going to have a lot of fun on Friday and Saturday but when Sunday rolls around, that is game day. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the local people."