Forest Hill, Maryland’s Doug Barnes is the first-generation racer in his family racing alongside his brother, Trent, on Saturday nights. Barnes, the driver of the No. 88 Late Model Stock Car won the first two races of the 2021 season and returned to the podium last weekend with a second-place finish. Along with his two wins this season, Doug Barnes is a two-time track champion at Dominion Raceway with his championships coming in 2017 and 2019.
Doug Barnes is 23 years old and works for his family’s paving business, Barnes Paving. As well as his work for the paving company, he loves to create content for his YouTube channel, AirDoug. Creating content and capturing footage from race weekends not only allows him to record memories, but it allows him to study film and improve throughout the year.
Barnes got into racing at a young age when his father bought him a go-kart at six years old. He said, “We used to go to this local track near me called Sandy Hook Speedway. We started racing there and when I got better, I moved up to the competitive class. We went through the competitive class there and won some races. After that, we moved up to the National level and won some races there too. Now we’re here.”
Dominion Raceway is home to some of the best Late Model drivers in the nation. Barnes is currently one of the ten drivers that have raced at Dominion Raceway this season in the top-100 in the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division I standings as he sits 54th.
Battling with your brother on a weekly basis can be special, but Barnes says, “it’s not anything special, to be honest. I think once we get on track he’s just another competitor. Obviously, I want to beat him but I also want to beat everyone else.” In the late model level, not many people get the chance to go head-to-head with their brother, and bragging rights are most certainly on the line.
Many people who race with a family member would probably say that they are their rival, but for Barnes, he says his biggest rival on the track is 2020 track champion, Peyton Sellers. When asked about his rivalry with Sellers, Barnes said, “I respect Peyton a ton, but there is not one person I hate getting beat by more than him. He’s just so good and you feel like you went out there and did something every time you beat him.”
In the racing world, each driver has a different way in which they attack the corner. Whether it moves, hand position on the wheel, or their mentality on the track, drivers take notice of it all. When Barnes was asked about mimicking other driver’s driving styles, he said, “I wouldn’t say I mimic anyone’s driving style but I definitely use some moves that I’ve seen others pull.”
“I’ve learned 99% of my driving style from the better drivers like Philip Morris, Peyton Sellers, and Josh Berry,” Barnes explained. “So a lot of the times I see someone pull the move on me, then I do it back and it is the greatest feeling in the world.”
Role models play an important part in the lives of racers. For Barnes, he has two people who have had a big impact on who he is today.
“For a driver role model, I’d have to pick Dale Jr., but family-wise, I would say my dad. That dude works so hard and he doesn’t complain one bit. I like to surround myself with people who work hard and he’s one of those guys that just does what he has to do. That’s what I try to do every day,” he said on who his role models are.
Barnes’ biggest goal in racing is to start in the Daytona 500.
“I’ve never been to the 500, but it’s the Super Bowl of racing,” Barnes stated. “If you can start that, it’s something you can talk about for the rest of your life.”
“At the Late Model level, I want to win the National Championship,” Barnes said. “We are really starting to get our program together now to be able to chase that. We started the season really hot with the two wins and we were probably the top-ranked driver there for a little while.”
Motorsports is such a unique sport in the aspect of there so many forms. From racing Formula One cars around Monaco, to racing UCARs on a Saturday night at Dominion Raceway, the love for the sport runs deep in a racer’s heart. Barnes closed with, “If I’m a Late Model racer the rest of my life, I’d be fine with that.”
Cover photo by Dinah Mullins.