Barnick likes Freedom of the Ride
Damon Barnick likes to fly, but not in the usual sense. He races dirt bikes and enjoys the air time he gets with big jumps.
Barnick recently was awarded an $810 scholarship by the Motokazi Super Cross Series. Each year, this award is given to the best all-around racer who also consistently exhibits good sportsmanship.
The scholarship will be a real asset for the Blue Earth Area High School senior whose long-range goal includes pursuing an education in motorcycle maintenance.
“I started dirt bike racing about 13 years ago when I was five,” says Barnick. “My dad got me into it. He (Rick Barnick) used to race in the 1980s on three wheelers before he was injured. Now he occasionally will ride recreationally. Amber, my sister, also rode until 2004,” he says about the family sport.
“I’ve had about 10 or 11 bikes since I began,” recalls Barnick. “The bike I have right now is a 250 cc 4-stroke Honda. My first bike was only a 50 cc, but I have ridden up to a 500 cc bike,” he says.
In addition to having a good bike, other equipment needed for the sport includes a helmet, long sleeved shirt, long pants and boots.
“Technology has come a long way safety-wise since I started,” says Barnick. “The protection coverage for a rider has been greatly enhanced.”
A sport for all ages, dirt bike racing is not real expensive, nor does it require a lot of equipment when one first starts explains Barnick. However, the sport is becoming more expensive simply because of the cost of gas to travel to the different events.
The main thing needed to become adept at the sport is a good practice track.
“At home I have a one acre area or practice track that I drive on,” he says.
Barnick competes in about 20 dirt bike races a year throughout the midwest. This year he raced in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota. He also participated in the Super Cross Racing at the Faribault County Fair.
Summer is the main time for the sport, but there are some indoor races at the I-90 Horse Expo Center in Sherburn as well as races in Brookings, S.D. in the winter.
Barnick has also done hill climbs in the Mankato and Red Wing area. This year he might do some flat track racing indoors. Coke syrup or some other sticky substance is poured on a cement floor in preparation of the event. Riders need a special bike to compete in this type of race. A bike’s controls are all on the right side and the suspension is lowered, so the rider is closer to the ground.
“I like racing super-cross style,” admits Barnick. “It is more technical, requires better timing and involves more air. The track is built with 800-900 yards of dirt.”
explains that moto-cross requires a longer outdoor track up to one mile.
Barnick’s expenses for the sport are reduced thanks to the seven different sponsors who back him. They defray his costs while providing themselves with another means to advertise.
According to Barnick, racing is fun and he has met a lot of super people.
“It’s a hobby that you can pursue for a lifetime,” he says.
The owner of over 150 trophies for the sport, Barnick modestly states, “I ride for fun. The thrill is just getting on my dirt bike.”
Barnick likes air and the freedom of the ride.