The Heart of a Champion

The Heart of a Champion

Robbins, N.C. native and ProMod drag racer Lyle Barnett’s life was turned upside down when he suffered a horrific burn incident at the Lights Out 6 event at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Adel, Ga. Barnett was on fire for 28 seconds.


The incident left Barnett with severe burns to his hands and face, and many people feared that he would never be able to race again. However, in true Lyle Barnett fashion, he was determined to make a comeback, and he has been working hard to get back behind the wheel of his car.


The burn incident occurred in September 2015 when Barnett was about three-quarters of the way down the track in the opening round of qualifying at Lights Out 6 when an electronics failure caused the dragster’s motor to explode, shattering his Corvette. Barnett was trapped in the burning car — at an estimated 1,500 degrees — for 28 seconds before the car slowed enough for him to free himself, and he suffered severe burns to his hands and face. He was treated at the scene, rushed to a local hospital and ultimately air-lifted to the Joseph M. Still (JMS) Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, GA.


After the incident, many were uncertain Barnett was going to make it, and most thought that Barnett's racing career was over. Fifteen percent of his body was covered in second- and third-degree burns. His lungs endured severe inhalation damage. However, Barnett was determined to make a comeback. He has went through extensive physical therapy to regain strength and mobility in his hands, and he worked on his mental toughness as well.


Barnett's comeback has been nothing short of remarkable. Less than a year later, Barnett was back in the driver’s seat. Barnett made his first run after the accident in a bracket racing truck in June 2016. He made a full circle comeback at the Lights Out 8 event on February 19, 2017, at the same facility where he almost lost his life. That night, Barnett qualified number one and set a new Leaf Spring World Record.


Barnett's comeback has been an inspiration to many people. He has shown that with grit, dedication and a great support system, anything is possible. Since suffering from his own burn injuries, Barnett pays it forward to others being treated for severe burns at JMS. His annual JMS Christmas Care Fundraiser raises thousands of dollars each year to donate to pediatric burn patients and their families being treated at JMS.


Barnett has shown that he is a true fighter and has the heart of a champion, as he has inspired many with his determination and resilience.

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