One year makes big difference for David Baca


What a difference a year makes!

One year ago at the 2002 NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, David Baca, driver of the Henkelman & Baca American Racing/Waterloo Tool Storage/ Skill Clean Top Fuel Dragster, made his NHRA Top Fuel professional debut. The end result of that debut was the first, and thus far, only DNQ of his professional career. Since then the Brentwood, Calif., driver has been among the leading performers on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

With only two events left on the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule, "rookie" David Baca is making a bid for this year's Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award  (Rookie of the Year). One of only two drivers nominated for the award, Baca is not your average rookie.

While you tend to think of a rookie as young and just starting out in drag racing, Baca, at 45, is older -- or to be more politically correct: more mature. At an age when many drivers are beginning to think about retiring, Baca, a second generation driver, is just getting started.

Baca's performance thus far this season punctuates the reason those who vote for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award are taking notice of the successful businessman and  former Top Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster driver from Northern California.

Since Las Vegas of last year, Baca has qualified for 22 consecutive events. This year Baca was runner-up at Sonoma and reached the semifinals at Gainesville, Las Vegas and Atlanta and currently is sixth in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings, just 54 points out of the top five.

In 2003, Baca has qualified for all 21 events on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, qualifying in the top half of the Top Fuel field of 16 in 13 of the 21 events contested so far this season. At the Mac

Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, he captured his first No. 1 qualifying position of his career and followed that with a top spot  (No. 1) at Memphis.

His rookie season performance has been right there with the veterans, running a career best elapsed time of 4.499 seconds and a career best speed of 326.32 mph on the quarter-mile track at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

On the track, Baca will begin qualifying for the 2003 NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals with two qualifying sessions on Friday at 3:30 and  6:30 p.m. and two additional sessions on Saturday at 12:30 and 3: 30 p.m. Final eliminations for the top 16 qualifiers in each professional class start at 11 a.m. on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Off the track, Baca will be signing autographs, along with a number of Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock drivers, at the ESPN Zone at the New York New York Hotel & Casino on the Vegas Strip on Thursday, October 23, from 8-9 p.m.

Then on Saturday night, October 25, from 7-9 p.m., The Las Vegas Club Casino & Hotel, in downtown Las Vegas, will host a Fan Appreciation Party for the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports team. Baca and the entire crew will be signing autographs and available for photographs in a special section of the casino area of the Las Vegas Club Casino & Hotel. The Las Vegas Club Casino & Hotel will have drink specials available for this special event. Also, there will be a huge raffle! Win a set of American Racing Wheels, souvenir parts and "OUTLAWED" T-Shirts.