Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Nicholas Barnes: maestro of racing

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2020 | 12:00 AMVanessa James - Sunday Gleaner Writer

The kind of skill and talent that Nicholas Barnes displays behind the wheel could only have come from being immersed in the world of automotives since childhood, a story he corroborated after explaining that he grew up in the world of chequered flags and smoking wheels, learning from his father, former race car driver Junior Barnes.

“After falling in love with racing from a very young age, you know, I couldn’t actually drive at that time, so I guess he (his father) saw the love and proceeded to get me into go-karting at Palisadoes, and that’s where the whole thing started,” recalled Barnes.

At age seven, he was put behind a karting wheel, and he has been going ever since, moving up the ranks and copping titles in each category of racing he enters.

“I left karting and made my debut on the track at 14 years old, when I actually started competing in cars, and, from ever since, it’s just greatness, you know?” he disclosed to Automotives.

He explained that, at 21 years old, his greatness transcended dexterity driving, where he races against the clock on an open course, and he went on to the sprint. He tried rallying and then ventured off to Dover for circuit racing.

“We haven’t been doing a lot of sprint lately. What we are consistent on is Dover, which is like four times a year,” he said. “That’s what we are putting all our efforts into, and in between that, we have some dexterity and drifting, where we participate and usually do well. But Dover is our primary focus and our main event,” he said.

He went on to say that, locally, Dover is as big as it gets and that, now that he is there, he does not plan to regress.

“You don’t get bigger than Dover for circuit racing locally. So, from 2015, when we actually started Dover, there was no turning back,” stated Barnes.

When asked if he was interested in going international to compete, he said that he was currently working on being prepared for when the opportunity presents itself.

“We are waiting for an opportunity, because we believe that we have the talent here,” Barnes said. “Other local drivers went international, and they excelled very much. So we are waiting on the opportunity, and when it comes, I am prepared to jump on it.”

That is exactly what he is doing. While he waits for the opportunity to present itself, he is the 2019 Modified Production Class 1 champion.

“Each car has to be a certain spec; that’s how you qualify for the class. We will have a total of 100 cars, but it splits up. Not everybody races against each other, because it is classified by engine size,” he explained. “For Modified Production Class 1, I entered that class because that’s where my car is legal to run, based on the engine I am using.”

Barnes competes with a 1986 Toyota Corolla with a 4A-GE 20-valve engine. Before holding this 2019 title, he was the 2015-16 champion and the runner-up for the 2017-18 period.

He gives credit to his father for everything he knows about car racing and for the steady upward trend that his career in the field has taken.

“As far as training goes, being around cars with my dad, that’s where I learnt the mechanical aspect of racing,” Barnes said proudly. “He taught me from the time that I couldn’t reach the pedals until I could, and through the transition from driving automatic to driving stick shift. He is the one responsible for all of that. All natural talent. No driving school or anything, just the natural skills from my dad.”