DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Like the other drivers, Greg Barnhart is counting down the few number of days remaining until he leaves for the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, Free State, South Africa for the ASA Transcontinental Series Free State 500. The Oklahoma City, OK driver is simply excited about the opportunity to compete in this event.
"I was incredibly excited, I think it's going to be a trip of a lifetime," Barnhart exclaimed. "Ron Barfield Jr. is one of my good friends and I think we have done quite a bit together on and off the race track. We used to make an annual trip by going on a cruise with our families, now we are making an annual trip to go and race. I think it's great."
Barnhart started his racing career by running dirt stocks, factory stock, modifieds and late models. He then moved up to asphalt late models where he met Barfield and started to drive for him. He also ran in the American Speed Association in 2003-04 and in the ARCA from 2005-07. From here he gained the experience of running the bigger size tracks like Phakisa, "I think it looks great," Barnhart said about Phakisa. "I love the flatter tracks, I think they are more challenging and I personally think I have a slight advantage."
That advantage may work to his favor, but Barnhart does put this whole adventure in perspective, "You know I think we have a legitimate chance. We have well prepared cars and I have experience on the bigger tracks," Barnhart explained. "But honestly, looking at this event, this has been the first event in my racing career where I really don't care where I finish. Whenever I go on the track I have expectations but when I strap in the car and put the helmet on, that might change," he joked. "But seriously, this is a 207-lap race. It's going to be a lot of riding, give and take throughout the race with a shootout at the end. We will take what it gives us. If it's a victory, wonderful. If not, it is still wonderful."
Overall he is excited about the opportunity that he will experience next week, "This is about meeting new people, helping them out and getting them involved in this kind of racing...that is awesome for this sport," Barnhart said. "I think it's great to build in this sport."
He also stated that he is proud that he gets to put on a driver's suit the he wore when he competed in the American Speed Association. That suit has the ASA logo embroidered on it and he had to cover it up with another series logo. He is excited to where the suit without an extra patch on it and show the ASA logo for this event.
"I have known Greg for many years as he drove some of my local cars," Ron Barfield Jr. said. "I have kept up with him for many years as he went to race in ASA and ARCA and helped him at many different tracks. He keeps head on straight and keeps the car clean. I am excited that we get to race together at Phakisa."
"It's great to have the talent of Greg Barnhart to come and compete with us in South Africa," Dennis Huth, ASA President said. "Ron has spoken very highly about him and has a lot of experience racing on a track like Phakisa. I think he will help some of our younger talents with getting their cars prepared for the Free State 500. We are grateful that he is coming to South Africa with us."
Tickets for the four days of action can be obtained from Computicket outlets countrywide or go to www.computicket.com. Prices range from R20.00 on Thursday to R 330.00 on Sunday. Spectacular discounts for Saturday/Sunday tickets are available. All tickets include a 90 minute Pit Walkabout on all days.
For more information about the Free State 500, please visit www.phakisa.com or www.freestate500.com.