Gosport, IN (03/30/19) – Polaris RZR/Yokley Racing pilot, John Barnes made the journey to Indiana Saturday for the season opener of the Mid West Cross Country. The weather was cold, rainy, muddy, and in the middle of the race snowy. Seasoned Co-Pilot, Nathaniel Woodard returned for the event.
The start time was scheduled to be 5pm. The track crew was having a hard time clearing the track, and the small creek that flows through the property was looking more like the Ocoee River of the 1996 summer Olympics.The organizers made the decision to get everyone to the other side of the creek to avoid danger. So, the track was cut down to 3 miles. Also, that had effect on live scoring and timing which would go to the old school timing of marking the racers number on paper and looking at a stop watch.
All racers were ready to race at 5 pm, but with the delays there would be an hour wait in the rain. Barnes and his co-pilot Nathaniel Woodard sat in their Polaris RZR XP Turbo freezing while getting rained on.
Barnes commented, “Cross Country racing is not for the weak of heart.” Barnes was more than willing to take off whenever the flag would drop.
The flag would come soon for Barnes after the wait. With the event promotor concerned dark would set in before the race was over, they fast tracked the flag drop.
Barnes said, “They lined us up and yelled 10 seconds, and our row was off. As I went into the woods second, I was still tugging on my harnesses trying to tighten down.”
As Barnes went by the tent to complete his first lap, he was getting roosted with mud, rocks, and snow. One could tell he wanted to stop the torture. He was trying everything to get around the leader.
Barnes mentioned, “There was a tight woods section, and I had noticed a possible line choice running over several trees. On the third lap, I went for it and made the pass.” The damage was done in terms of goggles. Barnes and Woodard went through all their goggles on board trying to get the lead, and were forced to race the remainder of the event with no goggles as rain, mud, and sleet poured down.
Once the checker flag waved, Barnes immediately drove the car to the trailer instead of the podium concerned about hypothermia as both pilot and co-pilot were soaked, and the rain had turned into a hard snow. Barnes commented, we were so cold we couldn’t get out of the harness. I yelled for help and some race fans came to get us out of the harness. Barnes dived through the front of the car bouncing off the hood. The Polaris RZR was still running as he desperately tried to get movement back into his hands from the heat of the exhaust..
Some more race fans came to the rescue to throw blankets over the team. Slowly but surely, they warmed up, and were able to get warm clothing on. Barnes made the walk over to the podium for a photo. It had been the hardestrace he’d ever participated in. The team endured the elements to put the Polaris RZR XP Turbo on top of the box.