Author : cmunroe

The Independence of Speed event held at Dover Raceway, Sunday August 4, despite bring found wanting in spectator numbers, was a resounding success in on-track activity. Kyle ‘Speedy’ Gregg dismantled the lap-record and swept the races in which he competed.

I will admit that a machine that could rattle Kyle’s mettle was not present at Dover on August 4, but, in his battle with Jamie James, he lowered his guard just enough to deliver a scintillating performance to satisfy the handful of fans present. Kyle was definitely Texaco’s star, but he was not the most illustrious star at the Independence of Speed.

Keiichi Tsuchiya knew that, for grip-driving, where thousandths of a second were vital to victory, the fastest way around a corner did not include drifting, but he was arguably its best advocate. Why did he do it? Because it was fun. Despite everything else that is associated with motor racing, having fun is a crucial factor that is at times overlooked.

But, there are some drivers, who appreciate, more than others, the presence of the people who make motor racing possible – the fans. As such, in their pursuit of P1 – which is the ultimate and only goal – there are drivers who integrate a few ounces of showmanship in the victory-mix.

If we maintained a tradition of compiling a list of Top Ten Overtakes for each circuit racing season – say you read it here first – at  circuit racing’s Round 2 at Jamwest Speedway, we saw a pass that would be not a manual transmission, it would be an automatic candidate for #1! It would definitely be #1 on ESPN’s Top Ten plays of the week! Who was the driver responsible for the pass?

At the Independence of Speed, the driver, who in my view, was shamelessly responsible for the pass of the year thus far, continued his rampaging ways.


Nicholas Barnes has been honing his skills under the watchful and supportive eyes of former Mo’Bay ‘big driver’ and father, Junior ‘Fletty’ Barnes. His tutelage started at an early age and at present, all indicators confirm that he is now razor-sharp, possibly exceeding the capabilities of a Hattori Hanzo sword (Quentin Tarantino – Kill Bill).

At the Independence of Speed, Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes competed in IP 3. We are not concerned with the displacement of his engine prior to the Independence of Speed – not our purview – ‘politics’!

My discourse, however, is devoid of ‘politics’ – zero ‘politics’. On August 4, at the Independence of Speed, Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes aboard his tropical, sun-kissed-Yellow AE86 which is propelled by Toyota’s 20 valve motor, stopped the clock at 1:28.608 during IP qualifying. Consider this – we are talking about a Toyota – a marque with a motor that is neither highly rated nor respected by Dover aficionados.


Perspective required? Sheldon Morgan – an Extreme Auto/Autosource Evo and Alan Gordon – mega-horsepower Evo X qualified at 1:29.741 and 1:30.733 respectively. Perspective confirmed? Nicholas was driving the wheels of the machine!

But wait, there is more. He actually recorded a lower time – in a different class. That is for another time. There are drivers who are rather proficient at delivering that one insane, qualifying lap and when the start-lights fade or the green flag flutters, their performance fades, consistent with the disappearance of the lights/the flag!

Would that fate befall Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes?

Fortunately, for the few, who were present at Dover on August 4, Nicholas was on a self-directed mission. A mission infused with several components – the mental fortitude of Garry Kasparov, the deceptive wit of a ’3 card-man’ and the unmatched driving prowess of Schumi (I would have chosen Senna, but… )


Nicholas is a youngster who has not forgotten, or maybe he is not old enough to forget, that having fun is an integral part of motorsports. At the Independence of Speed, he was an entertainer who had the fans trapped in a stimulating bliss as they were relentlessly injected with repeated doses of that which an AE86 delivers – Endless Pleasure!

Despite qualifying on pole, Nicholas said the AE86 had “issues” which forced him to begin one of the races from the pit-lane. Have you ever had the opportunity to disperse fuel to kick-start a fire? Visualize the result of the match colliding with the fuel. You now have a picture of Nicholas’ assault on the grid in his chase and destroy mission – Pit-lane to P1!

The commentator was tongue-tied at times, searching for words to describe what his eyes captured! Nicholas dismissed competitors with the casual effort of the passing wind. It was pleasing, beyond measure, to watch Nicholas and his machine dissect the pack, writhing a ruthless path to victory. An emphatic display of dominance while driving an underrated machine.


And at the Independence of Speed, despite class differences, Nicholas executed, yet again, another jaw-grabbing pass, a pass that brings a shredder to The Top Ten Moves of the year list! ESPN needs to see these races!

At Jamwest, Nicholas executed a pass while drifting between two race-cars – #1 on the Top Ten list. At the Independence of Speed he claimed a few more army stripes. The AE86 straightened the container chicane, saw, approached and locked Senna Summerbell’s machine in the 20 valve’s crosshairs. The pass could not be made. So Nicholas had to wait. Wait? Wrong! There is no better time than the present!

At a rather unlikely spot, it was a multiple choice test – Nicholas circled Senna on the outside of the Carib Cement corner, exited and sped towards the Esses! Big man driving.

Nicholas was the show at the Independence of Speed. He was the headline act. The main event! And he knew it!

Celebratory donuts, a tradition introduced by a legend, Alex Zanardi, were distributed without fear or favor in front of the main grandstand.

Is Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes the next big thing?

Are Kyle’s days numbered?

Cecil Munroe Gleaner On-Line Writer

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