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Racing brings Barrett family together at Bemidji Speedway

The Barrett Family Racing Team from left: Leahna, Becky, Leon and Tim Barrett. Pioneer Photo/Dennis Peterson

Ever since Ev Barrett was little girl, she wanted to race.

"Help me build a race car," she would tell her dad, Leon, as they walked through the junkyard looking for cars to build for the demolition derby.

Ev grew into a young lady never really getting into the traditional sports, but watching the Speed channel and NASCAR races. So her parents, Leon and Becky Barrett, with the help of former racer and track champion Todd McClellan and Will Klaus, helped the family build its first stock car, a mini stock.

In her first year of racing at Bemidji Speedway, Ev finished fifth in points and was named rookie of the year. That was the beginning of what would become the Barrett Family Racing Team.

Following Ev into racing was her sister Leahna, brother Tim, cousin Chris Dudley and nephew Robert, all driving mini stocks the first year at Bemidji Speedway.

That was three years ago. Chris is now driving a Midwest Modified and Robert is a member of the National Guard and was called into active duty. He is still serving his country, but is anxious to return to racing once he gets back home. Today the team has evolved with Ev sitting out a year to have a baby and Becky getting behind the wheel, joining Leahna and Tim on the race track. Leon works the pits, keeping the cars ready to race, with grandson Anthony as his "crew chief."

"Over the past three years we've had lots of family time, which Leon and I would rather do than anything else," says Becky. "Looking back when they were all small little kids, who would have thought while sitting there at the track watching the races and eating chicken and fries that we would someday have our own racing team. We have always sponsored cars and as the kids began to grow up we started planning on having cars of our own, so we started buying all the Mustangs we could find. Were not a rich family; we race off the parts we have gathered over the years."

Added Leon: "It was nice to have our children, nephew, grandson and other family members with us over these past years, time which we will always treasure. When they say Barrett Family Racing Team, it really is.

"I always wanted to keep my kids out of trouble, out of the gangs and drugs, and this is the way we chose to do that. I hope that as they grow older, they will keep going and they bring in their children."

So next time you're at the track, watch for the No. 59 car driven by Becky, the No. 95 of Tim and the No. 88 mini stock of Leahna Barrett, the Barrett Family Racing Team.

Races will resume on Sunday at 5 p.m.