Date of Birth: May 3, 1995
Hometown: Hiddenite, NC
For 17-year-old Annabeth Barnes, 2012 marks the beginning of her eleventh year of competitive motor sports racing. Coming off an exceptional rookie year in the Limited Late Model division at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina, Annabeth will begin 2012 running Limited again, this time at various tracks in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. By season’s end, she hopes to debut in the Late Model division in two or three select races.
When Annabeth Barnes was 6 years old, she stated for the first time, “I want to be the first woman to win the Daytona 500.” Today, Annabeth is one of the most talented and exciting young drivers — male or female — in all of stock car racing. Over the years, she has cultivated a killer instinct and relentless pursuit of winning that is second nature for this young woman who has been around the track and cars since the day she was born.
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On a summer night in 1997, Darren Barnes was racing at Hickory Motor Speedway, in Hickory, North Carolina. That night, he and his wife, Tina, snuck their daughter into the pit area. Rules stated that you had to be at least 12 years old to be in the pits at Hickory.
The little girl, Annabeth Barnes, was 2.
In retrospect, given her life around cars and racing, it’s amazing that her parents waited until Anna was 2 to take her to the track.
Annabeth grew up spending all her time at her grandpaw’s auto shop. “The shop is where I played with my sister (Jessica) and my cousins,” says Annabeth. “The noise and the fumes and the smells were just part of my childhood. The smell of a garage is the smell of home to me,” she laughs.
When she was 6, Annabeth got her first go-kart. Within weeks, she entered her first karting race, and by the third race, she was lifting the winner’s trophy in Victory Lane. And a racing career was born.
Over the next 9 years, she raced non-stop, almost every weekend, year ’round, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
But Anna didn’t just race. She destroyed the competition, racking up over 200 wins — and multiple championships at the state and regional levels. In 2008, Annabeth’s karting career pinnacled, when she won two karting Grand National Championships.
Along the way, Annabeth’s competing drivers weren’t the only people noticing her. The media began tracking Annabeth, as she appeared in countless karting racing magazines as well as Sports Illustrated. In 2009, Annabeth was featured in the documentary, RACING DREAMS, a film about the dedication and struggle of three, elite 12-year-old kart racers. Racing Dreams was executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and won “Best Documentary,” at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Also in 2009, NASCAR began acknowledging the sport’s best young driver. They presented the first ever NASCAR “Young Racer Award” to Annabeth Barnes.
Having dominated the karting world with over 200 wins and countless accolades in her 9-year karting career, it was time for Annabeth to move up.
In August 2010, at 15 years old, before she even had her driver’s license, Annabeth ran her first, full-sized stock car race, driving a 350 horse powered, limited late model car at Hickory Motor Speedway.
In 2011, Annabeth Barnes ran her first, full stock car season, competing in the Limited Late Model Division at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina. As a rookie, racing against a field of 30 drivers, all men and most vastly more experienced, Annabeth:
• got the first win of her stock car career
• had NINE Top 5 finishes, and
• led the points race longer than any other driver.
At season’s end, despite several unavoidable wrecks (the kind that just comes with racing) Annabeth finished the season 4th out of 30 in overall points. And once again, the entertainment industry took note. This time, it was television, as the Great American Country cable network (GAC) produced and aired BORN TO DRIVE, a four-episode mini-series which chronicled the trials and triumphs of Annabeth Barnes’ rookie racing season.
GAC described Born To Drive as “the life and times of teenaged country girl Annabeth Barnes as she competed in her first full year of stock car racing at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina. Short on money but big on desire, Annabeth, along with her mother, Tina, and father, Darren, sacrifice everything to compete in this male-dominated sport and chase their dream of Anna one day making it to the top of the stock car racing world.”
Annabeth reflects back fondly on all that she has accomplished as a driver. And while she is proud of what she and her parents have achieved so far, Annabeth is anything but content. “The goal has always been Daytona. With the continued support of my family and sponsors, and the grace of God, I won’t sleep until we get there.”
Annabeth begins the 2012 racing season excited to bring 100% focus and energy to each race, each practise, each work-out, and to treat the entire season as another step on her journey, God willing, to Daytona.