Hollywood stuntman goes to Indy 500, more news and notes
Hollywood stuntman Stanton Barrett is taking a try at IndyCar
Tony Schumacher took the award for best driver of the year
Breaking down what exactly is happening with Elliot Sadler
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Stanton Barrett has already made the big screen, now he's hoping to make the big time by competing in the Indianapolis 500.
One of Hollywood's leading stunt men, Barrett has performed stunts in over 200 films and television shows, including The Dukes of Hazzard, Spiderman, Batman, Jurassic Park, Volcano, and Dante's Peak. And when Barrett wasn't dodging punches, falling out of buildings or crashing cars, he performed in NASCAR, in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.
His move to the IndyCar Series with Team 3G, which stands for "3 Guys," is a partnership between long-time IndyCar independent car owner Greg Beck, marketer Steve Suddler and Barrett. It's the culmination of a dream Barrett had in the 1990s, when he wanted to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the races in the old CART series.
"I wanted to run IndyCars prior to the split, and when the split happened there was so much uncertainty," Barrett said. "People were leery of investing their marketing dollars in that. I had some chances that were pretty close, but it didn't happen so I stayed with NASCAR."
In Barrett's mind, though, the tide has changed.
"Right now, NASCAR is getting so expensive. You have to have a lot of money to run over here," he said. "IndyCar provides a world platform for auto racing. It is one of the most reputable sports and it is very feasible for sponsors to have a presence in motorsports and fulfill their marketing and entertainment needs."
The "on-the-edge" style of racing is something that attracted Barrett to IndyCar racing.
"There is a different aggression to driving an IndyCar than in NASCAR," Barrett said. "From the style of car and the racing, it's a different feeling all together. They are exciting and they are technologically advanced and they are super cool to watch. The sounds and the speeds are phenomenal. They are the fastest cars in the world other than a drag racer. I'm really excited. I love the road course racing and I love the downforce in those cars and the type of tire they use. It's really exciting and a lot of fun. I hope I have a very good feel at that."
Barrett has gotten some strong encouragement from his fellow drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
"Most of them think it is really freaking cool," Barrett said. "They think it's awesome with a great opportunity to run the Indy 500. They are like, man, that's awesome. Everybody admires those cars and the racing. They are fascinated by it and a lot of them dig that sport. I haven't heard a negative in any way."
Barrett also has a family connection to IndyCar racing. His Godfather was the late Paul Newman, who for many years was the co-owner at Newman Haas Lanigan Racing before he lost his battle with cancer in September 2008.
"My father and Paul were friends even before I was born," Barrett recalled. "I grew up around him and had a very cool and close relationship with him before he passed. He meant a lot to me."
Barrett talked to several IndyCar teams and to Brian Barnhart, president, competition division of the IndyCar Series before he made his move. Barnhart offered advice and Barrett made a lot of calls.
One of those calls was to Beck, who put a group together with some sponsors. The new team was announced at Kansas Speedway during the NASCAR weekend in September.
Beck has his own cars but the team is looking at adding a few more, along with some equipment. Barrett will also compete in the Firestone Indy Lights Series to help acclimate himself to the open wheel cars.
"We are working on the primary car right now and we are testing the Indy Lights car when we can," Barrett said. "Greg is going to start an Indy Lights team as well with some other drivers coming on board. We want to get a little more sponsorship and run in both series. It's like in NASCAR running Nationwide and Cup at the same time. I like the Indy Lights cars and I can use the two hours in the Indy Lights cars to learn the tracks on the series."
In addition to the 18 IndyCar races and the number of Indy Lights contests he plans on running, Barrett also plans on competing in 21 Nationwide races next season.
"As long as I can keep making money in racing, the stunt career can wait," Barrett said. "I'm directing more commercials with the production company I have.
"It gets tough hitting the ground after 20 years."
Let's just hope that with the higher-speed IndyCars that Barrett's career move is no stunt.
Year's Best Driver Was A Drag Racer
Who was last year's top driver? NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson? IndyCar champ Scott Dixon? Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton?
According to the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA), it was Tony Schumacher, whose record-setting NHRA drag racing season was capped with a fifth consecutive Top Fuel championship.
In the closest margin in over a quarter-century, Schumacher edged NASCAR's Johnson by one vote. (Shirley Muldowney received one vote more than Bobby Allison in 1982.)
Schumacher dominated the Top Fuel class. He finished with 15 wins out of 18 final-round appearances in 24 events. He had seven consecutive victories, made 11 straight final rounds and had 31 consecutive round wins. All are records. His 76 round wins tied Greg Anderson's single-season mark. Along the way, Schumacher surpassed Joe Amato's all-time Top Fuel wins record and ended the 2008 season with a career total of 56 victories.
"It's a thrill to be named the Jerry Titus Trophy winner," said Schumacher, who also won the award in 2006. "Given the history-making season the U.S. Army team had in 2008, I wish this trophy could be split up in a lot of different ways so every crew guy can have a piece for themselves. When I look back on this past season, I can safely say I was part of the greatest Top Fuel team that's ever been assembled in NHRA history."
Based on total victories and Schumacher's domination of his sport, it's hard to argue against a guy who virtually re-wrote the NHRA Record Book in 2008.