Bay area residents take aim at Infineon Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. (July 30) -- Cory McClenathan, veteran driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster, hopes to make his 2002 return to newly renamed Infineon Raceway a trip to the...
Bay area residents take aim at Infineon Raceway.
SONOMA, Calif. (July 30) -- Cory McClenathan, veteran driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster, hopes to make his 2002 return to newly renamed Infineon Raceway a trip to the NHRA POWERade® Drag Racing Series winner's circle - - not only for himself, but also for his team owners, who hail from the San Francisco Bay Area of California.
Team owner and partner Rick Henkelman calls San Jose home; while David Baca, a lifelong Bay Area resident, now lives in Brentwood, Calif. Both are experienced drag racers and both are no strangers to Infineon Raceway, or Sears Point Raceway as it was called when they raced there.
Prior to forming a Top Fuel Dragster team this season on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Henkelman enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in both the NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car (TAFC) and NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster (TAD) classes.
Starting in TAFC, Henkelman won the Division 6 TAFC championship in 1994. In 1997, the fifty-three-year-old driver switched to A-Fuel Dragster which competes in the TAD class. It's here he enjoyed his greatest success.
In 1998, Henkelman advanced to seven final rounds in NHRA national event competition, winning twice. His performance propelled him to the runner-up position for the 1998 TAD national point title.
The assault on the TAD class continued in 1999 with Henkelman winning a national event title in Columbus, Ohio, and being named the Division 7 Top Alcohol Dragster representative at the Federal-Mogul All-Star Championship.
Henkelman's partner, David Baca, a second generation driver, has also put his mark on the NHRA Record books. Baca currently holds the NHRA TAD national speed record at 274.44 mph, which he set at Phoenix in early 2001.
Additionally, Baca, 43, was the first TAD driver to record a pass in the 5.2-second range and, until recently, had recorded the quickest run in TAD with a pass of 5.220 seconds at the 2001 Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
Now, the pair has their sights set on the Top Fuel title at the FRAM Autolite Nationals.
At the end of the 2001 season, Henkelman and Baca began exploring the opportunities of fielding a Top Fuel Dragster and in 2002 the dream became a reality with the formation of Henkelman & Baca Motorsports.
Just one short week prior to the 2002 K&N Filters Winternationals, the pair hired veteran Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan and the rest, as they say, is history.
And history it is! Through the first half of the season the Henkelman & Baca team has been thoroughly entrenched in the top five in points in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings and has been to seven semifinals and two final round. Not bad for a team that runs without the financial support of a primary sponsor.
"We could not have got to the point we are without the support of our associate marketing partners -- Centennial Batteries, Champion Spark Plugs, Don Steves Chevrolet, Goodyear, Mac Tools, PurePower, and Strange Engineering," said Baca.
"Nevertheless, you can bet we will be going all out to win at Infineon Raceway, our home track, for at least two reasons. First is a sentimental one. Rick (Henkelman) and I are from this area, have raced at Infineon Raceway, or Sears Point as it was called when we were racing, and would like nothing more than to win our Top Fuel debut as owners here. Secondly, we want to continue to impress potential, would-be marketing partners, even though we have opened a lot of eyes with our results thus far this season. A primary sponsor would give us the wherewithal to compete with the beer cars and other contenders in Top Fuel."