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Where Are They Now: Mark Barnett

The Bomber and the Hurricane, circa 1981
photo: Dick Miller Archives
Every motocross fan worth his bench-racing card knows that Mark “The Bomber” Barnett rates in the top three of all-time great 125cc motocross riders. Only James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael have more career wins than Barnett in the class, and his three AMA 125cc National MX Championships in the class are matched by RC and his 1970s rival, Broc Glover.

Bridgeview, Illinois-born Barnett rode for the Suzuki factory team for almost his entire career, though the record books show one win on a Kawasaki: his last of 17 career 250cc main-event wins at the 1985 Atlanta Supercross. And Barnett scored himself the 1981 AMA Supercross title on his ‘Zook.

Barnett's 25 125cc AMA National wins rank only behind Stewart and Carmichael
photo: Dick Miller Archives
After a not-so-successful comeback try in 1989 with Tuf Racing Suzuki, Barnett began building supercross tracks and working on private tracks for top riders. He spent a long time with Rich Winkler’s Dirt Wurx crew, helping building circuits for the AMA and World Supercross tours.

Now he’s back home in Alabama, working with his partner Glen Bates on their own track-construction crew called Bomber Built. Their first track together was RC’s initial SX track, which they built back in 1997 when Carmichael was with Pro Circuit Kawasaki. Today, Bomber Built works primarily on James Stewart’s and Chad Reed’s private tracks in Florida, plus Davi Millsaps’ MTF property in Cairo, Georgia.

In fact, when I got the Bomber on the phone this morning, he was just finishing up Reed’s outdoor circuit. “There was some question as to whether or not Chad would be riding outdoors, but I guess it’s a go now,” said Barnett, who was on the dozer as we spoke. “It’s funny: Sometimes these guys want me to build a Unadilla for them, but I’m down here on flat ground—buy a place that has some hills or something!”

Mark Barnett today
photo: Steve Bruhn
Mark’s next big project is going up next to Monster Mountain MX in Tallassee, Alabama: He bought 16 acres next to the highly acclaimed track and will be putting up cabin units for a year-round motocross camp similar to the MTF and Georgia Practice Facility. He’s got the full support of the track’s new owners, as well as his family: wife Anita and their kids Adam, 18, and Andrea. “Adam is doing boot camp now,” Barnett says of his son, who joined the United States Marine Corps.

Finally, does one of the all-time greats still ride much? “Actually, I’ve been riding quite a bit lately,” Mark answers. “But I don’t think I'll be going to Loretta Lynn’s to race or anything—I have too much fun just riding down the road and playing around.”

 

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