Barnes wins a stunner; captures first championship after 25 years of racing

Barnes wins a stunner; captures first championship after 25 years of racing

NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 7) -- After 25 years of competing on the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Road Racing circuit, 44-year-old veteran rider Michael Barnes is finally a champion after capturing the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series title with a breathtaking win Sunday in the season-ending Big Kahuna New Orleans.

"It's been a long time coming," Barnes said. "My thanks to Kyle Wyman for giving me a bike that was equal to his and offering this chance to live my dream. Also to Gaston Kearby and the KLR Group for their financial support. To finally have a championship after all these years just reenergizes me. I love this sport and I can't wait to run with the No. 1 plate next year."

Barnes entered this race as the class leader following a victory two weeks ago in Miami aboard his KLR Group/Spyke's Harley-Davidson. But his margin was only two points over Tyler O'Hara, a four-time winner this year.

As expected, Barnes and O'Hara jumped to the front right away and stayed in one another's shadow for the entire race, changing the lead a few times to add to the drama. It all came down to the last lap and Barnes had the slenderest of leads as they zipped through the 16-turn course.

Coming onto the final straightaway, O'Hara used the draft to pull alongside Barnes and it appeared there would be a drag race to the stripe. Then suddenly, O'Hara inexplicably reached out and pulled on Barnes' throttle arm, causing the KLR Group Harley to slow. Barnes threw his hands up in protest as he crossed the finish line just behind O'Hara and before they could complete the cool-down lap, AMA officials had disqualified O'Hara, handing the win and the title to O'Hara.

"He tried an old dirt-tracker move and this time it didn't work," Barnes said. "It kind of robbed me of a chance to celebrate on the cool-down lap and do a big ol' burnout for the fans because we didn't know what would happen. I felt confident the AMA would penalize him but until we got to the podium and they told us he was out we didn't really know for sure. I guess that was the only move he felt he had left.

"A lot of people over the years have helped make this happen and I could go on for hours thanking everyone. The bottom line is the people that I care about the most know what they mean to me. I love my new home here at Kyle Wyman Racing and I hope we can come back and do this again next year."


Dusty Brandel

President of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Inc. Worked with Mike Hollander since Tapsis, Compuserve, etc. and has posted to the website since the beginning. First Female photo-journalist to be given a garage and pit pass for the NASCAR garage, 1972 at Ontario Motor Speedway. One of first seven female writers, photographers given access to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage and pits in 1971. Past President of Greater Los Angeles Press Club, 1992-96, and first female editor of the 8-Ball publication for the Press Club

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Volume 2012, Issue 9, Posted 6:32 PM, 10.07.2012