A moment Lyle Barnett has dreamed of is set to come true and he’s having a longtime partner join him. Barnett will make his U.S. Nationals debut in Indy this weekend, competing in Pro Mod with Motion Raceworks as the sponsor on his ProCharger-powered Elite Motorsports/Modern Racing Camaro.
It’s extremely exciting for Barnett in a number of ways. The Big Go is a venue where he’s always wanted to compete and now the fan-favorite driver and Pro Mod rookie is doing it with a sponsor who has worked with him for years.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the U.S. Nationals and I remember dreaming as a kid of winning The Big Go. Now to have the opportunity to go there and compete and try to win the race, and have a sponsor like Motion Raceworks, it’s a dream come true,” Barnett said. “This is a bucket list item for sure and not something I thought I would ever get to do. It’s not going to seem like it’s real until we’re there racing.”
That starts Friday evening for the first of three qualifying passes and it’s a whole new area for Motion Raceworks, which is an industry leader in late model and high-performance components.
They’ve worked with Barnett in the past, sponsoring him when he drove the “Tooth Jerker” Dodge Dart and the “Beer Money” Mustang. Both cars fit the company’s demographic and while sponsoring a Pro Mod car is a step outside of that, owner Doug Cook was willing to dabble knowing it was with Barnett and at the U.S. Nationals.
“We wouldn’t have sponsored anyone else. We’ve been friends with Lyle for quite a while and while we first thought Pro Mod didn’t fit what we do, we’ve progressed and it fits a little more,” Cook said. “As we broaden our horizons and looking at more race car parts, we’re trying to fit in different areas and get people’s attention.
“It’s cool to see Lyle growing and it’s really cool that we’ve sponsored the Dart and ‘Beer Money’ and now we’re on a Pro Mod. We’ve all evolved together.”
Barnett said he considers the Motion Raceworks team family, which adds to the magnitude of the Indy moment.
“My history with Motion Raceworks goes back to almost the conception of the company,” Barnett said. “They’ve pretty much been on board with everything I’ve done. To sponsor me in the biggest race in drag racing, that’s pretty cool.”
It’s not only the first U.S. Nationals for Barnett, it’s his first race in more than two months. After struggling in Norwalk in late June, the team didn’t race in Denver and Brainerd as they searched for the right combination to get things moving in the right direction.
The car has spent a considerable amount of time on the hub dyno at Modern Racing, trying different gear sets, different engines, different converters, or as Barnett stated, “You name it, we’ve tried it.”
But Barnett, who qualified fourth and won a round at the season-opener in Gainesville, feels like they’ve hit on something during testing this week. After a multitude of changes, Barnett liked what he saw in testing just a few days ago, but the real test will come when Barnett and company unload on Friday for the first qualifying run at the U.S. Nationals.
“We finally got our stuff back together,” Barnett said. “We think we’ve got something that can compete. You’ve got to show up on Friday and throw a number down that’s going to put you in the field and that’s something we’ve struggled with this year.
“We’re a new program trying to get better so, for us, on Friday afternoon we want to make a run that puts us solidly in the field and gives us something to work off of for the rest of the weekend. We want to make a run that takes some weight off our shoulders and then continue to pick at it.”