DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — There is a famous American country song called "Friends in Low Places" and Ron Barfield can relate to this song when he thinks about his friend Shaun Richardson. The Noosa, Queensland, Australia driver will get behind the wheel of one of Barfield's car at the ASA Transcontinental Series Free State 500k on Sunday, January 31, 2010 at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, Free State, South Africa.
"The U.S. doesn't realize how big this type of racing is around the world and people like me are just trying to get a bite of that apple. Bring it on!!!"— Shaun Richardson
"I had contacted Ron a few months before the news by e-mail telling him that I am still wanting to follow my dream of racing an American stock car. But it is so difficult to get into and compete," Richardson said. "Two weeks before Christmas, Ron sent me an e-mail asking if I could call him because he was working on something and he asked if I would be available at the end of January. On Christmas Eve, we got the phone call and he told me that I can drive one of his cars in South Africa. For me, this is a huge opportunity and it could open so many doors to the future."
Richardson is excited to be a part of this event as he is looking at the big picture, "This event is the start of something really big, this is what the rest of the world is crying out for," Richardson exclaimed. "Everybody needs to get behind the promoters and make this an awesome event. The U.S. doesn't realize how big this type of racing is around the world and people like me are just trying to get a bite of that apple. Bring it on!!!"
The one thing that everyone was curious to know was how Richardson and Barfield got to know each other? "Anybody who knows Ron knows he is so passionate about his racing and you get that from him the first minute you meet him," Richardson said. "Ron was over in the UK at Rockingham to help some of the drivers out as we had gone from one tire to another and the guys in the field were wrecking almost at every meeting. So Ron Barfield and Mark Clausener were brought over to try and help fix the problem. We got the problem fixed and from that day on we stayed friends. One thing that amazes me about Ron is that he will help anybody who needs it. We had been having different problems in our car and Ron said to me, don't pay the UK prices I will bring you one over next time I am over there, and sure enough to his word there is Ron walking down the paddock with all of these axle pieces in his hand he had stripped it down and brought it on the plane with him."
"I'm really looking forward to putting Shaun in one of my cars over there," Barfield said. "He had heard we are going and we touched base two or three times on e-mail and he said he wanted to be a part of this. I just had to have one car that I sent over there for any driver to drive and I am looking forward to putting him in the car. He is a good shoe and from watching him race in the past at Rockingham, UK I think he is going to adapt real fast to these cars and South Africa will be a great place for him to do it."
Richardson has been racing for twenty years where he raced ovals in the United Kingdom for the first ten years winning a few different championships. During that time he raced against John Mickel, another driver to compete at the Free State 500 event. "I raced with John for about three years in the UK," Richardson said. "He is a very good pedaler and we have had a few moments on the track but I do respect him as a driver. As long as he is behind me on the last lap I will be happy," he said with a smile.
After competing on the UK ovals he then decided to go circuit racing where he spent two years racing Porsches where he finished second in the championship during his second year of racing. He then competed in Eurocars which are very simular to an ASA car spec frame chassis on circuits rather than ovals. In his first season he had a handful of podium finishes and finished third in the championship. In 2002, he competed in the ASACR Series which were full ASA cars running on high speed ovals.
In 2003 he had no car and very limited sponsors. His two choices were to either miss a season of racing or re-mortgage the house to buy a car and run the first two events hoping to pick up a sponsor for the rest of the season. The gamble paid off and he received the Driver Achievement Award as his finished sixth in the standings. For his achievement, he was awarded a trip to Miami-Homestead Speedway for the Sprint Cup event.
"This amazed me and from then I had a dream. While at Homestead I had talks with a few teams to try and get a drive but with no joy, so I went back to England and in 2004 we signed a two-year deal with the rock group "The Darkness" to sponsor the car and we finished third in the championship," Richardson recalled. "In 2005 we had wrecks and an engine failure and finished sixth. At the end of 2005 I tried to get a drive in the USA but still no joy but so still wanting to racing a thundering V-8. I moved to the other side of the world, and while being here I have done a year in the New Zealand V-8."
Today, Richardson owns a trailer company in Australia called Positive Quality Trailers where he has two different branches, one on the Gold Coast and the second on the Sunshine Coast. They specialize in race car trailers and plant trailers. He lives with his partner Carol and their two sons River and Christopher.
His outlook on life is simple...Live, Love, Race.
"We are very excited to give Shaun his opportunity to live his dream by joining us for the Free State 500," Dennis Huth, ASA President said. "Ron Barfield speaks very highly of him and he will be a welcome addition to this historical event."
For more information about the Free State 500, please visit www.phakisa.com or www.freestate500.com.
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