Annabeth Barnes is a modern day racer. The Alexander County teenager grew up successfully competing on the track, while also learning how to use the public relations tools that go along with being a NASCAR driver. In addition to wins, she has movie and television credits to her name.
She is now one of the 18 drivers competing in the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge at Charlotte Motor Speedway. She is being judged on her abilities to drive short tracks, road courses and speedways. There is also review on her car control and endurance. You can bet the ability to represent the sponsor is also part of the competition.
“It’s a great opportunity to get out here and not only show what you can do as a driver, but your marketing skills and things like that,” said Barnes. “It’s an opportunity for drivers who might not ever be seen by PEAK, by Michael Waltrip Racing, by all these awesome drivers, John Force. It’s great for us to get out here and really be seen and have our voices be heard too.”
Judges include NHRA Champion John Force, NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and NASCAR team owner Michael Waltrip.
“It’s just kids hoping for a chance,” said Michael Waltrip. “We open the Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge to racers all across America.”
While there were a few different ways drivers could qualify for the PEAK Challenge, Barnes was hand-picked based on materials she submitted for consideration.
“There’s a lot of things it takes to be a champion, and I’ll tell you at the top of that, don’t do it for the money,” said John Force. “It’s all about heart, and these kids had heart. They’re all dreaming that someday they can be out here and be the future stars of NASCAR.”
Brian Vickers acted as a coach and a judge for Barnes and all of the participants.
“She did really good. I was very impressed,” said Vickers. “You know, honestly, a lot of the kids did a really great job. Of course, we’ve only seen one event so far, so it’s hard to really judge all of them. But I was impressed, she did a good job. This is not just for show, this is a real program. They’re going to put them in a real race car with a shot to win.”
The competition ends on June 11 and the winner, which will be announced in August, will be provided a car to race in the K&N series. Last year’s PEAK Challenge winner, Patrick Staropoli, ended up taking a win in the series and set a standard every challenger wants to emulate.
Before heading to her next challenge, Barnes said, “I am just so excited to get to go out here and show that a girl from Hiddenite, North Carolina can come out here and be a part of a competition like this. It’s really awesome.”