Eric Barron and his LAT/Rancho sponsored Toyota make believers out of the big boys at Miller Motor Sports Park in Toole.
TOOELE — It isn’t just other drivers Eric Barron is trying to shake on the dirt tracks of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
It’s a label that identifies him as another, more successful driver’s younger sibling.
“Hey, it’s Alex’s little brother,” one of his friend’s joked Sunday afternoon at Miller Motor Sports Park in Tooele, after Eric Barron took the first step toward making a name for himself with a thrilling first victory in the Pro 4 Unlimited Division.
“I’ve been racing pro sports for about four races now,” said the 39-year-old resident of San Diego, California. “We just built a brand new truck, and my crew helped me do the whole thing.”
Barron might not have they heavy sponsorships of the men’s he’s racing in the 16-event series, but he has the lap times.
“And everything is based on lap times,” he said with a grin. Which is why he was confident he could contend, despite the dominance of Kyle Leduc so far this season.
“Yes he did,” when reminded the Leduc won the first six races of the series. “We got third yesterday and first today, and we’re not going to hope for less. We knew we could compete. We have the lap times to prove it.”
Barron battled Leduc, a crowd favorite for most of the 20-lap contest. Utah has not been kind to Leduc, who lost to Carl Renezeder, last year’s champion, on Saturday and Barron on Sunday.
After Renezeder spun out in the first turn, Sunday’s big race was all Barron versus Kyle Leduc. And for 20 laps they battled bumper to bumper for the lead that Barron held most of the way. The race was stopped once, about midway through, when one of the cars caught fire, but crews quickly extinguished the flames and the race resumed.
“He was inside, he was outside,” said Barron. “He could have gotten a little bit more aggressive with me, but you know what, he’s an excellent professional driver. I just did the best I could, you know, I got my first win!”
He thanked the sponsors he has, but acknowledged that unlike the vehicles of his competitors, “there is a lot of real estate on that car.”
The tight contest thrilled the thousands of vocal fans who withstood temperatures in the upper 90s and strong, relentless winds throughout the races.
Barron was thrilled to earn his first win after years of racing in other leagues and venues.
“I raced buggies before this,” he said. “But I’m done with the buggies and in with the big leagues now. So if we can make a mark, we’ll be doing it.”
He said he put his crew together by choosing friends and associates who had both knowledge of motorsports and passion. He praised his main sponsor, Toyota, not just for providing him with the vehicle, but also for helping him deal with the altitude issues.
“It’s a small crew, a combination of friends who have experience and just passion,” he said. “You have to have a lot of passion to do this.”
He jokingly said he got into racing because “I had a lot of money and I wanted to lose it, so I went racing.”
But he said he comes from a family of racers, including his older brother Alex, who has raced Indy cars for eight years.
“I’ve been racing my whole life, just not at a professional level,” he said. “My brothers have done that. Now it’s my turn.”
What’s next for the upstart racer?
“Get sponsorships so we can have a team that would support a high level of racing,” he said with another grin.
IN OTHER RACES:Brian Deegan, the motocross legend who won both the Pro 2 and Pro Lite classes on Saturday, came up just short of duplicating the feat for a second straight day. Deegan’s “Metal Mulisha” entry wound up 4.887 seconds short of victory in the Pro 2 class, coming home behind Rob MacCachren, who claimed his third win of the season. Renezeder took the final podium position, with Rodrigo Ampudia and Patrick Clark fourth and fifth, respectively.
Deegan did emerge victorious in the Pro Lite class, taking the checkered flag for the third time this season 1.671 seconds ahead of Justin Smith. RJ Anderson claimed the final step on the podium, with Ryan Beat and Bradley Morris filling the top five.
Jessie Johnson, the younger brother of five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, scored his second victory of the season in the SuperLite class, edging Cody Rahders by 1.051 seconds. Ryan Hagy was third, followed by Dawson Kirchner and Drew Britt.
Doug Fortin took his second win in as many days in the Pro Buggy class, cruising to a 3.3-second win over Cameron Steele and Steven Grienke.
Other class winners were points leader John Fitzgerald with his fourth win of the season in Limited Buggy, Bradley Morris with his third win of the season in Modified Kart, Dylan Winbury taking his second win of the weekend and fifth of the season in Junior Kart 2 and Conner McMullen with his second win of the season in Junior Kart 1.