After a decade of trying, Annabeth Barnes Crum earned her first career Late Model Stock Car win at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) on Saturday. Despite the monumental achievement, the first thought to cross her mind after taking the checkered flag was about her family.
“The first thing I said over the radio was that I really wished my family was there,” Barnes told Speed51 on Monday. “Even talking about it now, it makes me upset. I wanted so bad to be able to share that with them and be excited with them because I know how excited they get.”
Barnes Crum discussed the win on Speed51’s “The Bullring” Monday morning, as well as the extra value attached to it as a wife and mother who still competes. While the family was unable to celebrate together at the track on Saturday, sharing the win with husband and fellow racer Jake Crum and their children on Sunday proved special.
“When I got home, the kids were all asleep. Jake was awake, he stayed up waiting for me. Shortly after, our one-year-old woke up and I spent the next three hours trying to get her back to sleep, so it wasn’t much of a celebration.”
“The next morning, when the kids woke up and we got to tell them, they all held the trophy and were all excited. We celebrated all day and it was really cool.”
Interestingly enough, Jake Crum also planned to race last weekend with the CARS Tour at Ace Speedway (NC) on Friday. When that race was postponed to Saturday, he stayed home to watch the children while his wife competed.
“He was supposed to race at Ace on Friday, and then it got moved to Saturday. He is amazing and a really good husband and a really good dad. He said, you know what, I can’t race when he had an obligation. He stayed home with the kids and I raced on Saturday night.”
While Jake was obviously happy, he couldn’t help but make note of the sacrifice once the family was together at home.
“That didn’t come without him being a little bit snide about it. He said, ‘I could have raced and I could have won, too.’ But he was happy for me, and the only sad thing was they couldn’t be there with me.”
The win is also special coming after nearly an entire season away from the sport while pregnant with her daughter, Kenley. There was a time that Barnes Crum was unsure if she would be given the chance to race again, but instead her team fully supported her return to the sport.
“When I got pregnant, I actually didn’t tell anybody at the time. We were in the process of building a new car. My whole team was really excited, and I knew that was the plan, so when I found out I was pregnant, I was so nervous, more so to tell my team and sponsor.
“A lot of people don’t know, it’s a woman-owned car. It’s a female owner and a female driver. She’s amazing, and I knew in my heart she was going to tell me to take a step back. Everyone was so supportive, and when I was brave enough to tell them, they told me ‘When you’re ready to come back, come back.’”
Annabeth Barnes Crum has been racing at Hickory for a decade now, working her way up the racing ladder after cutting her teeth in go karts. While Hickory is known nationwide by its historic stature as “The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars,” it is simply home for her.
“We’ve been racing Hickory for 10 years. To me, it’s just my home track. I’m from Hiddenite, North Carolina, about 30 minutes from there. For me, it’s my home track, but to a lot of people it has a lot of history. It’s hard to appreciate that history when you’re going there, week in and week out.”
Thus, it took some time for the importance of joining the short list of female winners at Hickory Motor Speedway among the NASCAR greats who have visited victory lane at the track to sink in.
“After the win, everyone’s talking about how you made history. That’s when you sit back, and it sinks in. It’s not just another win. It makes it a lot more special.”
Fans who want to see the full interview with Annabeth Barnes Crum on “The Bullring” can click here to see an on-demand replay of the episode.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo