SOUTH BOSTON—Jason Barnes is immersed in one of the toughest, labor-intensive occupations there is – farming.
For fun, Barnes tackles one of the toughest sports there is – auto racing.
When asked which is tougher, Barnes said it’s about equal.
“Neither one is easy,” Barnes said with a smile.
“But I would say I get more pleasure out of racing. I love farming, but it’s a hard, hard profession this day and time.”
Farming has been a way of life for Barnes since early adulthood.
“I’ve been farming on a family farm in Dinwiddie (Virginia) since I graduated from college,” Barnes said.
“We farm around 2,500 to 2,800 acres on a diversified farm. Our biggest crop is tobacco, the second-biggest is cotton, peanuts, soybeans and corn. We’re pretty stretched out.”
Farming takes up most of Barnes’ time and attention, but he manages to squeeze in time to race in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division.
“I do this (race) on a part-time basis,” Barnes said.
“We work on the car out of a farm shop. It feels pretty good to run with these guys on a week-in, week-out basis.”
Due to time constraints or other circumstances Barnes, at times, has to cut some corners with his racing.
“It’s disturbing because guys don’t cut any corners,” Barnes said.
“We try to cut corners just to get here. We don’t always put the best tires on in practice and we don’t always have the best-of-the-best, but we try to make do with what we’ve got and be happy with what we have.”
Barnes has had success at South Boston Speedway (SBS) in the past.
In 2018 Barnes finished sixth in the SBS NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division point standings. He was one of 15 drivers that led laps in division races that season.
“In 2018 I finished in the top six in points and almost won a couple of races,” Barnes said. “I feel like if we could pull off a win, maybe two, or run top-five week-in and week-out and get back like we were, I would really be happy.”
Barnes has two top-10 finishes in his four starts this season at SBS.
Barnes said he had hoped for better results at this point but said he is still working to dial in his new car.
“With the new chassis we’ve got and a new motor, if we hit our marks and get our (chassis) setup pretty decent we will be pretty good compared to everybody else,” Barnes said.
“We’re running a brand-new car this year, and to come out here with limited practice I feel we’re pretty decent for what we’ve got and the technology we’re running against.”
Barnes has been racing at SBS on-and-off for the past five or six years. He says he keeps returning to the track because it is a great place to race.
“The racing atmosphere here at South Boston Speedway is better than anywhere in the country,” Barnes said.
“This is where my mom and dad grew up coming to races, where I grew up coming to races. I feel like this is home to us. There is a lot of racing history and atmosphere here.”
Barnes said likes the various cost-cutting measures the speedway has implemented to help competitors.
“The two-tire deal is hateful at times when you’re trying to figure out the (chassis) setup, but then it’s good because you only have to buy half the tires,” Barnes said.
“The purse is better here at South Boston Speedway than anywhere else. Basically, you cover your tire bill if you finish pretty decent,’’ Barnes said.
It’s very respectful of the track to do that for the local guys, small guys like me who have no sponsors. We sponsor ourselves. We have a couple of small silent partners, but it’s like everything else, you’ve got to run well, get some eyes on you, and find somebody that is willing to help you.”