USAC Sprint Car driver Amy Barnes, who cut her racing teeth right here in Carson City in an Outlaw Kart, kicks off her pursuit of the USAC Western States series championship this Saturday night in Madera, Calif.
With local racing still two weeks away, fans starved for racing action might consider a road trip to California to cheer her on.
Barnes, who is now married and a new mother, moved to Las Vegas with her husband, but still maintains her local roots. Her car is lovingly prepared in Minden by dad Danny Barnes and Amy says that the Drinan chassis and Ed Hanson engine are both in top shape for her 2003 debut.
"I'm up here this week helping to get the car ready for Madera, where we've always had good luck," said Barnes.
In the off-season, she's kept sharp by attending a stock car racing school at the Stateline track on the Washington/Idaho border.
"Stock cars are sure different, but seat time is seat time," said Barnes.
At Madera, she's going to be going up against at least one driver who gets tons of seat time -- NASCAR star Tony Stewart, who's taking a busman's holiday at Madera on a Winston Cup "bye" weekend. Stewart will be competing in a USAC midget on Friday night, and in both a Supermodified and a USAC sprinter on Saturday night. Barnes has met Stewart on the track in a sprint car previously, and feels she'll be able to give him a run for his money this time.
"We've raced against Tony before, but I feel we're going to be a lot more competitive this time out. He'll know we're there," stated Barnes confidently.
After Madera, Barnes plans to contest the entire USAC Western States tour with an eye toward her first USAC Western States sprint car championship. Tracks at Stockton, Irwindale, Tucson, Yakima, Boise, and Salt Lake City are on the program, but there's no stop in 2003 at Champion Motor Speedway here in Carson City.
"It's a shame we don't have a race here in my backyard this season, but hopefully we can get a date here in 2004," said Barnes.