Barnes set to take to the streets
Scott Barnes will look to enhance his reputation as one of the most successful international drivers to race at the Rock Island Grand Prix in Illinois when he returns to Quad Cities this weekend.
Few drivers outside of the United States have raced Rock Island, considered the world’s most prestigious and largest street race, more than three-times winner Barnes.
The Bermudian, who made his debut in 2001, will once again take on the “Ironman challenge” by racing in multiple classes and is confident of retaining the L206 Margay Ignite title he won last year.
“It’s the one race that’s on my calendar every year,” Barnes said. “It’s a cool track and they shut down the town every year for the weekend; it’s a great atmosphere. There’s a lot of fast pro guys coming down in the shifter class, so the field should be stacked.
“I’ve only missed one race since 2001. I’ve got three wins, including ‘King of the Streets’ a lot of top fives and career earnings of about $5,000.
“It’s a hard track to win on, but every year I go to win.”
It has been four months since Barnes got behind a racing steering wheel, and, despite his familiarity with the course, he admits it may take time for his body to acclimatise to the physicality of street racing.
“This is the longest break I’ve ever had being out of a kart,” said Barnes, who has broken ribs while racing on the uneven streets of downtown Rock Island in the past.
“There’s not a lot of seat time [in practice], which is usually fine because I’ve been [to Rock Island] so many times and the track doesn’t change, but this year’s going to suck because I haven’t been in a kart for four months.
“This is the first time they’re changing the course and we will have to learn two new corners. Luckily, I’m doing seven classes, so I should learn quickly.”
Rock Island, a two-day event, will be the first of three overseas races for Barnes this year, with the island’s top driver planning to compete at the Skusa SuperNationals in Las Vegas in November and the Daytona International Speedway in December.
“I’m only able to do three races because of finances, but they are three of the best to do,” Barnes added.
“Butterfield & Vallis have come on board for the first time and that’s been huge for me. I wouldn’t be able to race internationally this year if it wasn’t for them.”
Barnes, a former Bermuda Karting Club president, is unsure whether he will compete locally this season because of a lack of funding.
He claimed the Shifter, L206 Senior and Tag Senior classes last season to become the first driver in two decades to win three classes in one series.
“I’m not committed to racing [in Bermuda] this year, but hopefully I get the itch from this weekend,” he said. “If I can pick up a couple of local sponsors, then I’ll definitely look to race.”
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