Marine emerges victorious after 20-year break
By Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint
| | August 16, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
A Marine at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, has turned an old hobby into a new passion that both he and his six-year-old daughter have grown to love.
"I raced BMX when I was five years old until I was eight," said Cpl. Mike R. Barnhart.
"I was pretty good. I had the number one plate in my district when I quit. I started back this year after I found myself in trouble with alcohol and I needed to find something constructive to do with my time," he added.
Remembering how much fun he had racing BMX prompted Barnhart to go out and buy himself a BMX racing bike.
"The salesman told me where the local track was," said Barnhart. "I went out and raced that night.
"I was racing against guys who have been racing 20 years, and they beat me pretty bad," he said.
That's when Barnhart's competitive nature took over.
"I hate to lose," said Barnhart. "So for the past 8 months, I have been riding every day, and now I am one of the fastest at the track."
Barnhart now competes at a very high level. He took first in the All Star Nationals and second at the World Championships. He has also won the U.S. Nationals.
Barnhart has enjoyed winning in the sport he enjoyed so much as a child.
But perhaps an even greater joy is seeing his daughter, Adison, take an active interest in the sport as well.
"She is in love with the sport, and she is so dedicated to training and just getting faster," said Barnhart.
Adison's dedication led to her selection to the American Bicycle Team.
"When I told her, she was so happy she almost started crying," said Barnhart.
"She has wanted to ride for them for a while, and I told her if she worked really hard she could ride for anyone she wanted ... and it happened," added Barnhart.
Adison took second place in the main event for her race class at the Cactus Park Event Aug. 3.
"I enjoy just coming out to race," said Adison Barnhart. "My favorite part is just coming out of the gate."
Although Mike and Adison have had their share of big wrecks, they both just bounce right back up and keep racing, according to Sharolyn R. Barnhart, Mike's wife.
A family friend and fellow racer, Dylan M. Vincent, offered a bit of advice to his young counterpart.
"Racing takes a lot of heart," the wise eight-year-old veteran said. "You have to just always try your best."
The family agrees that as soon as Adison's little brother, Cole, is old enough he will start racing too.
Barnhart is thankful for the support he has received from Marine Corps Community Services in his efforts to continue racing.
"I would like to thank MCCS for all of their help," said Barnhart. "They have supported me all the way."
Barnhart's future goals include winning the State Championship, the Black Jack Nationals in Reno, Nev., and the Grand Nationals at the end of the year in Tulsa, Okla.