'Role of a lifetime'

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2003

LAS VEGAS -- Stanton Barrett can do just about anything with a car. He can flip it, spin it, jump it, crash it and, in some cases, even blow it up all on cue.

What he wants to do most is race it.

Barrett wants to be a driver on the NASCAR Busch Series so badly that he's put his successful 15-year career as a Hollywood stuntman on hold. Even as two of his latest movie projects are enjoying successful openings, his attention is the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Sam's Town 300 on Saturday.

''This is what I want to do,'' he said. ''I've been working on this for 10 years. After all, I can always go back to the movie industry.''

After struggling most of his racing career to find stable work, Barrett got one of the most coveted positions in the sport the cockpit of Jack Roush's No. 60 OdoBan Ford, the same car Greg Biffle drove to a Busch Series championship a year ago.

He joined Roush Racing with one career top-five finish in 54 starts, but none of those involved the resources he now enjoys. Roush not only has five Winston Cup teams, he also fields a part-time Busch Series team for Jeff Burton.

Barrett understands the ride with Roush comes with a lot of expectations. Biffle and Burton combined to win nine of 34 races a year ago, and Mark Martin drove the same No. 60 to a Busch Series record 45 victories before retiring after the 2000 season from the junior circuit.

''I try not to put any extra pressure on myself,'' Barrett said. ''I want to win bad enough. When Greg moved up (to Winston Cup), he took the rest of the team with him, so we're basically a new team. It's not easy. There's a lot of pressure that already comes with this job, a lot of pressure of working for a high-profile team like Roush Racing. I don't need to put any extra pressure on myself."

Two of Barrett's movies, Cradle 2 the Grave and Gods and Generals, opened this month. Future work is on hold while he dedicates himself to the only job he ever wanted.

He's turned down stunt work in 10 movies in the past couple weeks. He will do some occasional consulting, especially when the circuit is on the West Coast, but not much else.

During the past 10 years, it was the other way around. He worked movies full time and made spot appearances in NASCAR.

''There were times I wouldn't sleep because I'd spend that time sending out (sponsorship) proposals,'' Barrett said. ''I'd have a day here, a day there to try to get my racing career going. I'd do the movies, but I was focusing on racing. I remember when I was working on Bat man, I spent two or three hours a day on the phone trying to put together a (racing) deal. I'm a stuntman because it's something my father did, and it's something I enjoy, but all I really wanted to do was drive a race car. So here I am.''

Barrett recently was offered a role in a sequel, Spider-Man II, but he turned it down to devote his attention to racing. Of all the roles he's played in the past 15 years, a full-time driver on the NASCAR Busch Series is the most important especially when he doesn't flip, spin, jump, crash and blow up the car.

''This is the role of a lifetime,'' he said.

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