Stuntman to race IndyCars in 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 9/26/2008 | 9 comments »
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When you get right down to it, part of what makes any sport connect with fans is the feeling that any fool could do this. Sure, you probably couldn’t do it well, you might even get killed trying, but whether it’s running, hitting, kicking, throwing, or especially driving, you can probably handle most of this stuff. The only thing separating you from those superstars on TV is God-given talent and a lifetime of experience.

And as such there really are no set qualifications for being an IndyCar driver. The IRL is filled with drivers with varying amounts of experience and savings accounts, most of whom can drive at an elite level at which the rest of us can only marvel. But admit it, that hasn’t stopped you from thinking if you hit the lottery you could do at least as well as Marty Roth or Dr Jack Miller.

Which brings us to Stanton Barrett, whose main experience is, well, I’ll let the press release tell you.

Stanton Barrett, who after running 22 of 29 races now ranks 23rd in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings and is an accomplished stunt driver, will drive the No.98 Curb/Agajanian/Team 3G car during the team's inaugural season in the IndyCar Series season in 2009, team officials announced.

Let’s get this straight: Mr Barrett is saying that his qualifications for being an IndyCar driver are (a) that he’s the 23rd best driver in the 2nd best stock car division and (b) he’s an accomplished stunt driver. This means his areas of expertise would include things like driving cars into other cars, driving cars into things other than cars, and driving cars very fast into cars and things other than cars. Smells like the next Paul Tracy to me, folks.

Barrett will begin the next chapter of his racing career when the 2009 IndyCar season begins in April with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Because when you’ve been driving ovals for the last few years, it’s a good idea to start you IndyCar career on a street course. Although in fairness he probably drove most of those stunt cars on streets, right?

"I am thrilled to be joining Team 3G and the IndyCar Series in 2009," said Barrett. "I feel the time is right to move to the IndyCar Series. They have a lot of momentum, and I think they will continue to grow in popularity with fans and corporate marketers."

This doesn’t make it a bad decision, but maybe “the time is right” because driving in IndyCars cost about one quarter of what it does is stock cars, and corporate marketers, like the rest of us, a little strapped for cash right now.

"My Dad and my Godfather, Paul Newman, have been a huge influence in my career and they have always wanted me to try Indy Cars."

It’s important to mention that Paul Newman is his Godfather, because this is why Barrett will be racing for Newman/Haas/Lanigan next year...oh, wait. Nevermind.

Team 3G is a newly formed team co-owned by racing industry veterans Greg Beck and Steve Sudler.

"Stanton will integrate nicely with the IndyCar Series competition," Beck said. "He has plenty of oval experience from driving in NASCAR, and has road racing experience from early in his career."


Now this, this is ridiculous. Have we not learned from the likes of Franchitti and Hornish and Allmendinger and Montoya that “oval experience” does not translate across racing vehicles of different weight, downforce and horsepower? Good grief. Might as well say “he can drive fast and turn left, so he’s ready”.

"He will have to get used to driving without fenders or a roof, but his stunt driving experience should suit him well with the full fields in the IndyCars Series."

Are. You. Kidding. Me? Seriously? “…his stunt driving experience should suit him well with the full fields in the IndyCars Series.” That might be the quote of the year from a press release. Can you imagine the poor PR peon who put this together? He or she probably typed it as a joke – no doubt auditioning for pressdog – and forgot to take it out.

Look, none of this says Barrett’s going to be a bad driver, because only time will tell whether or not he can successfully compete in the IndyCar series. But this year we all watched Brett Sherman struggle to translate his stock car skills to the Indy Lights series, and with a top-notch team like Panther Racing no less. Barrett may feel like he’s ready for this, but you can’t help but wonder how long this self-proclaimed “eXtreme-sports extremist” will stick around.

On a positive note, one thing his stuntman experience gives him lots of nickname potential. Early favorite: The Fall Guy.

9 comments

  1. Anonymous // September 26, 2008 10:34 AM  

    "He will have to get used to driving without fenders or a roof, but his stunt driving experience should suit him well with the full fields in the IndyCars Series."

    I am a Christian woman and I choose not to swear in my everyday life. But THIS made me think "What the HELL does THAT mean?!"

    ;)

  2. mmack // September 26, 2008 11:20 AM  


    Let’s get this straight: Mr Barrett is saying that his qualifications for being an IndyCar driver are (a) that he’s the 23rd best driver in the 2nd best stock car division.


    And this is different from Target Chip Ganassi Racing putting the 46th best driver in NASCAR's permier stock car division and the 29th best driver in their 2nd best stock car division in a Dallara how?

    :^P

    This means his areas of expertise would include things like driving cars into other cars, driving cars into things other than cars, and driving cars very fast into cars and things other than cars. Smells like the next Paul Tracy to me, folks.

    Meh, Paul Tracy wishes he could get a full season ride to be his old crazy self. Sounds more like a typical race weekend for EJ "No Fear" Viso.

  3. Mark // September 26, 2008 11:23 AM  

    I noticed he did stunt work in "The Nutty Professor". Does he really need to prove himself? Isn't that enough for you people?

  4. Carrie // September 26, 2008 3:58 PM  

    Stanton is a nice guy but, after watching him in NASCAR, my first thought when I saw this press release was, "The hell?!?!"

    It'll be Milka & Marty all over again.

  5. cestrada // September 26, 2008 9:51 PM  

    Looks like 'stanton barrett' didn't like my opinions too much. Don't know if it's him...but it seems like it, doesn't it?

    http://mvn.com/irl/2008/09/25/this-aint-no-stunt-stanton-barrett-trades-in-stock-cars-for-indycar/

  6. Billy Coy // September 27, 2008 3:11 AM  

    I think it's great ! new drivers to the series and if some Hollywood attention comes along that's great too.

  7. Anonymous // September 28, 2008 8:42 AM  

    Stanton is the next Marty Roth. The teams he has worked with will tell you he is a hot head and blames everything on the team. No road course experience at all.
    At least he will not have to compete with Marty for the last spot in the field , I hear from a Roth crew member that he is going Daytona Prototype racing next year.

  8. SB_buddy // September 28, 2008 1:08 PM  

    Since it's debating season, here's my rebuttal for my good friend who've I've known for over 10 years now.

    1. Stanton has been driving at the top levels of NASCAR for over 10 years which not many people can say. He has placed in the top 20 against top teams that are spending 10 times the amount he is which is darned good in my view. There are a lot of drivers who have raced in Indy with less experience and Stanton is smart enough to know when to move out of the way and avoid a potential crash unlike some younger aggressive drivers who just want to win at all costs. Being a stuntman is not just dangerous, it takes an enormous amount of intelligence to avoid any mishaps so in that light, Stanton could be considered one of the safest drivers out there to save the team money when you consider the potential savings on equipment cost.

    2. Stanton is actually pretty good on road courses. He was running second with a few laps to go in Mexico City a few years ago until he got bumped into. He also did well last year at Montreal finishing 17th. It may not be the same on a street course but I'm sure he'll be training for it with good experienced people advising him.

    3. Stanton has really good relationships with his current sponsors. I've met them and they are really happy with what Stanton has given them which is lots of exposure outside of racing. He's done ABC's NASCAR in Primetime, NASCAR Angels, America's Next Top Model, ESPNs Bobsled Challenge, and tons of magazine and newspaper feature stories on an international level. His sponsor even developed a Japanese and Chinese website about him and he's got lots of fans overseas, I heard. With all the teams struggling for sponsors, I think Stanton is one guy that actually has the luxury to pick and choose the sponsors he wants to work because he wants a win-win situation and the sponsors really like that.

    4. Paul Newman and his father are mentors and are a great influence on his life. Even though he knew the inevitable, he is torn apart by Paul's death. Based on Paul's influence, he and a friend even started an organization (4caring.org) to help people in need. I know he frequently visits children in hospitals to give them hope about their futures. And he doesn't have a camera following him around when he does this. He does it out of pure caring for others. And he probably did get offers from Paul to drive for him but knowing Stanton, he doesn't want handouts and would never even put himself in a position to be criticized for that or put pressure on those around him.

    5. Until he tries driving Indy cars, we don't know how things translate. Sometimes it's easier to transition from one way to another than vice versa. I've got experience piloting helicopters and airplanes but it's a lot easier piloting an airplane with all the automated controls on it. There's so much more to think about and watch out for when I'm in an helicopter. Not saying it's the same but there is a lot more going on all around you in NASCAR than Indy. Plus a lot of other intangible factors you have to consider as well.

    6. Again, I think stunt work is one of the most stressful jobs in the world and it takes a tremendous amount of intelligence and concentration when your life is on the line each time. That experience definitely helps when a split second can mean the difference between life and death at the Indy speeds.

    7. There is so much more to a driver's success than just equipment and big teams usually put so much pressure on a driver to win, it becomes a job rather than a passion. Some drivers do well conforming to a job and others like Stanton truly love to drive with a passion. He uses almost all his money earned in stunt work and puts it into his cars and team. That's a very rare and admirable thing these days of big corporate sponsors demanding performance. Maybe Tony Stewart saw the same thing and just wanted to enjoy being a racer rather than a corporate toy.

    I think we should celebrate Stanton joining the field of Indy drivers and the media attention and NASCAR fans he will bring. I'm already hearing from my NASCAR friends that they will all watch Indy races next season because of Stanton. It's exactly what this series needs; an underdog who strives to race for the love of racing and not big corporate paychecks. If you watched the movie 'Speed Racer,' Stanton personifies the 'Speed Racer' character. I respect your opinions but just wanted to give my viewpoint about a great guy with heart.

  9. Bash // September 28, 2008 8:51 PM  

    Just listening to SpeedFreaks, who were talking to Stanton Barrett, and Crash floated the "rumor" that he'll have Darren Manning as his team mate at 3G...