Local Drag Racer looks to expand horizons in his sport

By Brock Ormond for Total Sports Quinte

A local drag racing phenom is aiming to make his mark in more than one avenue in his sport.

23-year-old Brandon Barker began his career at six years old driving a junior dragster at Shannonville Motorsport Park, “The birthplace of champions”, following a path blazed by his late grandfather Jim Parkhurst, who managed  the Drags serie at Shannonville for many years. Barker shares the same passion for the sport of racing that his grandfather always had.

Barker has driven six full seasons in the “Super Pro Dragster” class and over the course of his career, has amassed over $100,000 in winnings.

He had a banner year in 2018, claiming the Luskville Dragway Driver of the Year award, and was a champion of the Show Me the Money Tour and the Canadian Bracket Supertour, ending the year with the most winnings by any Canadian driver in history.

Barker not only takes his driving talents to Canadian race tracks but throughout the United States tracks as well. In some of the larger races in the US, Barker goes up against as many as 500 other racers and having finished in the top 14, a very impressive feat.

He is now on the brink of making drag racing a full-time career, and although he aims to win every race he enters, what is equally as important to Barker is the marketing side of the sport, which has lacked in years past.

Barker’s goals “are not solely about racing, it’s about being involved in the community helping out local businesses. I don’t want (the public) to be stuck with ‘this guy likes driving a race car all the time,’ I do want to be involved in more than just going down the track.” Getting involved in promoting the sport is also something that Barker said he can do to give back to the community he lives in.

“There’s a lot of business aspect to it, and I don’t want to dismiss that. Without sponsors, without financial assistance, then you cannot compete at this level for very long.”

“It’s about being at the track and meeting the people, gaining valuable experience, finding ways to improve and help the sport grow.”

There is “untapped potential” for the first wave of entrepreneurs who put in their investment to grow Canadian drag racing. “The Canadian Drag Racing scene is something many companies are missing out on,” Barker said. 

Also, Barker said he is looking at starting a school to teach people about bracket racing and how to get into it.

When asked what it would take to grow Canadian drag racing, Barker said it would take several factors, including building partnerships with businesses, getting the word out on social media, having the media involved in talking about the sport and educating the public.

“The big thing is understanding the work that goes into it,” Barker said. It’s not just that you have a lot of money and your car goes really fast. There is a lot of work, determination and things you’ve got to learn with bracket racing and it takes a lot of skill to drive as well.”

“We’re talking about thousands of a second at 150 miles an hour that we’re trying to judge by. It’s a really crazy sport when you think of it that way – to drive your race car down the track like that and be looking around at where the other guy is and that you’re not making a mistake on the track.”

If someone is interested in becoming a drag racer, Barker said the best way to get involved and understand the sport is to go to the track and soak up any knowledge you can from people who have experience and have been around the track.

Barker’s passion for drag racing was ignited from a young age by his grandfather Jim, and he talked about the amount of respect and admiration other drag racers across Canada and the US had for him.

“When I go to all these different race tracks and seeing all the people around, everybody knew him and everybody had fun stories about the different things he would do. I would love to have him here just to see what it’s becoming now and how everything is going for us.”

“There’s so many things that are different from 10 years ago when he passed away that it’s too bad he isn’t here to experience and see it all with us and have his ideas and takes on what to do, because he was a big part of keeping the sport alive for the last 20-30 years.”

His message to Barker right from a young age was a simple one.“No matter how big you get, what you win, what you lose, you always remember where you came from and where you started.” Barker carries the memory of his grandfather with him in every race that he runs and knows he is always watching over him.

Drag racing is a family affair for Barker and he feels it is extremely important to thank everyone that has supported him throughout his career; his grandmother Brenda, mother and father, Sherry and Rob, brother Daniel, his cousin Nathan, great grandfather Alvin, great grandmother Marge, his uncle  Steve and aunt Suzie, and his girlfriend Rachel, as they have all been instrumental in his success on and off the track. Brandon also thanks his sponsors; Parkhurst Motors, KD Transmission, and Dialled in with Jake & Zach.

In the words of his late grandfather, hoping for “blue skies and green lights” at a race track near you.

To learn more about Brandon Barker (local drag racer) visit Brandon Barker Racing (BBR) (Facebook) and 

@BrandonBarker55 (Instagram)