Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 81

LYLE BARNETT

MOKE HAD JUST FILLED the burnout area of Cleetus McFarland ’ s Freedom Factory and Lyle Barnett made sure he was prepared .
He was the culprit of the thick layer of smoke that had ensued for the last several minutes and Barnett was determined to make the most of a magical moment . With the crowd erupting in cheers after he literally burned the tires of the “ Bald-R-Eagle ” to the ground during the burnout competition at the 2.4 Hours of LeMullets ,
Barnett was beaming as he emerged from the car .
Before starting his burnout – a memorable melting of the tires on the pavement that gave him the win during the competition – Barnett placed two beers in the car , hopeful he could put them to good use .
With the cloud of smoke still swirling , Barnett climbed up on the car and went full “ Stone Cold ” Steve Austin , slamming the beers together and downing the remains as the crowd went wild . Barnett had the fans – those in
attendance and those watching at home – in the palm of his hand , putting on a show during and after the competition .
“ When I cut the car off , the place went nuts ,” Barnett says . “ The energy was amazing . I was fired up , pointing around at the crowd and smashed those beers together . It was just freaking cool .”
It was another first-time experience in a season filled with them , and like Barnett did during his rookie season in NHRA Pro Mod , he made the most of the opportunity .
After picking up a pair of thrilling victories and branching out in a number of new ways , Barnett ’ s star has never been brighter heading into 2022 . Already a huge fan favorite , Barnett took another seismic leap in 2021 , moving to new platforms , competing in new areas and branching out even further .
He won two late-season races in a talent-filled NHRA Pro Mod class – driving a turbo combination many thought was long gone in the category – became a far more outspoken and prominent figure on social media , and wrapped up his year by winning the burnout competition at McFarland ’ s heavily-hyped event in November .
It continues to be an inspiring tale for the man who nearly lost his life during a horrifying fire at Lights Out 6 in 2015 , and further confirmation that Barnett has found his place in the sport . While the crash and rigorous recovery process will always be a massive part of Barnett ’ s journey and a significantly galvanizing tale for everyone in the sport , a year like 2021 ensures that his incredible comeback is now the catalyst for his current string of success and not the end result .
“ I ’ ve been known for my story for all these years and the fire and the crash and my comeback and whatnot ,” Barnett begins . “ While that ’ s still the platform or the foundation of where I am today , we ’ re finally starting to talk about my success and how well we ’ ve done both on and off the racetrack and winning on holeshots and driving halfway decent .
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