By John Sleeper
Remember the old Bugs Bunny schtick when Yosemite Sam would sniff the air, wonder what in blazes was burning, then jump five times his height when he realized he was, indeed getting charred?
Jayme Barnes, meet Yosemite Sam.
It was an interesting Saturday night for Barnes, a rising star in the area’s sprint-car battles. Not only did he win the 410-division feature at Skagit Speedway, he did so while driving an underpowered, 360-class sprinter.
After starting from the back of the pack.
While fighting off searing pain in his, well, bum, burns so severe that his buttocks may require skin grafts.
“It’s all blistered up right now, huge blisters the size of the palm of your hand,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t bother me that bad, but it’s not real good. There are some spots I can’t even feel to the touch. It’s just starting to itch now. It’s starting to heal, I guess.”
Barnes, of Everett, was one of the drivers chosen to run in the 410 feature, based on his finish in the 360 feature. Starting in the 18th position, dead last, Barnes gradually picked off car by car.
Just one problem: Barnes’ muffler became dislodged in a scrape during the race. The muffler ended up just under Barnes’ car seat – which, to minimize the weight, has a number of holes drilled into it. So Barnes’ posterior was unprotected from a white-hot muffler from the early laps of the 25-lap feature.
“By lap 9, I was contemplating pulling off, but I thought, ‘I can handle this,’ so I didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t even notice it some of the time. Then I tried to get my weight off my butt going down the straightaways. I tried to get out of the seat as best I could against the belts. As soon as got into the corner, I stuck my weight back so I could drive and then got off the seat again.”
Barnes, buns blazing, took the lead with three laps remaining, took the checkered flag, parked the car and wasted little time getting out.
“I thought I burned it pretty good,” he said. “I had the ambulance guys look at it. Then I thought, ‘Holy smokes, it’s really bad.’ I had no clue it was as bad as it is.”
How bad? Second- and third-degree burns.
So charred was Barnes’ biscuit that he admitted himself into the vaunted burn unit at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center for observation. Burn specialists gave Barnes some salve to ease the pain and speed up the healing and told him to come back Monday for possible skin grafts.
Most important to Barnes: He’ll miss zero races.
“(The doctor) said I could drive as soon as I can get back into the seat,” Barnes said.
Try not to add your own jokes to that one.
Evergreen Speedway: Kevin Hamlin of Bothell will try to add on to his 65-point lead Saturday night at the NASCAR Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Parts Plus 125 at Evergreen Speedway.
It was this time last year that Bothell driver Gary Lewis started to mount a sizzling comeback to nearly win the points standings. Lewis won four of the last five races, but fell short one point to Garrett Evens.
Also racing are Arlington’s John Bender, leading the way for the Rookie of the Year award, and Monroe’s Greg Bennett.
The Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association also will run a 30-lap feature on the 5/8-mile track.
Qualifying begins at 5 p.m. Racing is set for 7 p.m.
Wilskey places back East: Lake Stevens sprint-car driver Shawna Wilskey finished fifth both Friday night and Saturday night in United Sprint Car Series events in Greenville, S.C., and Florence, S.C., respectively.