Through the Paddock: Daylon Barr on chasing a racing dream through college

Justin Whapham

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Each week in Through the Paddock, Aaron Bearden takes the time to spotlight a member of the racing community in an effort for both himself and the fans to learn more about them. Interviewees can range from drivers to crew members, media representatives and more.

The audio version of this piece can be found here.

Take a walk through the infield at any motorsports event, and you’ll be treated to a host of people in various roles. The stars drive the cars. Public relations representatives work to further their clients’ names and careers. Pit crews work feverishly to get their machines dialed in. A few snap photos, while others (myself included) sit behind a laptop and write.

Regardless of their position, most people at the track fill one main role.

Daylon Barr isn’t like most people.

Representing both driver Brandon Brown and Coastal Carolina University – where he still attends classes – Barr arrives at the race track every time Brown races knowing he’ll be put to work. What he isn’t always certain of is just what that work will be.

Whether he’s shooting photos – his chief job with Brandonbilt Motorsports – handling public relations duties, or even helping the team with tires, the 21-year-old Barr takes on each weekend with the optimism and vigor inspired by his ability to chase a childhood dream.

From the classroom to the race track, Barr fights to keep himself afloat as his goals draw ever-nearer – working hard and running on as little sleep as necessary to get through each week, and typically doing so with a smile on his face.

Barr’s story and circumstances are both unique, which make him a perfect candidate for a feature like Through the Paddock.” Knowing this, Kickin’ the Tires sat down with Barr at Chicagoland Speedway to discuss his journey to the NASCAR garage, varying job responsibilities and just how to pronounce the word ‘Chanticleer’.

I’m here with Daylon Barr today – a jack of all trades, though I’m not sure which he’s mastering. How are you today, Daylon? 

Daylon Barry: I’m doing good! And as you want to say a jack of all trades.. I was running tires last week in Richmond, too.”

Daylon Barr’s journey has taken him from iRacing to Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo: Daylon Barr)

He really is a jack of all trades! I hope he doesn’t take up writing… I don’t have enough job security as it is, Daylon. 

You do a lot of things, so I don’t really know where to start except from the beginning. How did you end up here in the NASCAR garage? 

“I actually met a NASCAR official on iRacing back in early 2015, and he offered me and my buddy a hot pass at Darlington (Raceway) that September. It was actually the first throwback race they did.

I asked my mother if I could bring her DSLR camera, and I brought it to the track. It was the first time I had ever picked up a camera. The pictures I took throughout the weekend – they weren’t the best. I was nothing special. But a few of them stuck out, and I really liked what I did.

Come Martinsville (Speedway) time later in the fall, I was standing outside of a housing meeting at my university – Coastal Carolina University – and Brandon Brown, the driver of the No. 90 XFINITY (Series) car, happened to be standing behind me. It was back when he was running the (No.) 86 truck, and he was talking about his upcoming race at Martinsville.

I turned around, introduced myself and said, ‘Hey, I’d love to come to the track with you.’ Because I’ve always been a NASCAR fan, and always wanted to be a part of the NASCAR world… I thought. *Laughs* It’s pretty fun.

I ended up getting a hot pass for Daytona (International Speedway) in 2016, and I brought my camera again. I took pictures with Brandon all day Thursday for practice and Friday for the race. He ended up finishing fourth – a huge upset I thought. It was like the biggest win in our book, a fourth place.

The pictures I took actually came out well enough that Brandon’s father invited me to come back the next week to Atlanta (Motor Speedway) with them. I went to Atlanta, got my own hotel room. I drove out there after class on Friday, made it out.

From there it just kept going. I went to Martinsville, flew out to Kansas (Speedway) with them, then Charlotte (Motor Speedway). It’s budded into my own business. I do PR stuff for Brandon, or if they want me to run tires, I’ll run tires. I’ll go pick people up from the airport. Whatever they want me to do.

It sounds like you had a rooting interest in NASCAR before this started. Would you say you’ve been a fan for a long time at this point? 

Absolutely. My first race, I was two years old at Watkins Glen (International). I’m 21 years old now. I’ve been to Watkins Glen 18 times in my life.

I missed the first two races when I was zero and one year old, and I missed the race where David Reutimann flipped coming out of (Turn) 1 because it was on a Monday and I had football practice that day… I remember that one clearly. My mom was sitting right in front of it and she took pictures of it.

I’ve been a NASCAR fan all of my life. I’d been to all of the northeast tracks to start with. Now I’m only missing six tracks on the Cup (Series) side that I haven’t been to because of all of this.

That’s crazy. So, with all that you do, is there such thing as a standard weekend? What tasks make up a work week or weekend for you? 

Taking photos is just one part of Daylon’s duties at the track. (Photo: Daylon Barr)

(It’s) pending on what crew shows up to the track. If I don’t have to run tires and Collin (Fern) does not have to spot and he will run PR, I am the photographer.

During practice – it’s probably the most boring part that I do – I will find a spot in the middle of the turn, whether it’s (Turns) 1 and 2 or (Turns) 3 and 4, and I will take pictures of the ride height of the splitter in the front of the car. That’s all I do for however long practice is. I’ll sit there and do the same thing over and over again.

That’s the most boring part, and that’s what they utilize me a lot for. But after that, it’s play time. Qualifying comes. I get to play around with the camera.

I’m all self-taught – I’ve never taken a photography class – so everything I’ve taken is all self-learned. All of my gear is my own. I don’t use anyone else’s gear. During the races I’ll take pictures.

People have noticed. My work has kind of taken off, I guess you could say. I work with awesome people like Josh Bilicki and Spencer Boyd. I’ve recently been working with Ryan Truex and the (No.) 16 team on the Truck (Series) side, Jordan Anderson in the (No.) 1 truck. I’m working with all four of them this weekend.

It’s nice when I can be on my feet a lot and do the photography side. I really enjoy doing that and working with the art.

It’s my understanding that you’re still a college student as well. Is that correct? 

I am still a college student at Coastal Carolina University. They’ve recently hired me as one of their photographers for the university, so now I’ll be shooting sporting events – soccer games, football games, basketball. Cultural arts. Plays.

I shoot for the student newspaper, and I also shoot official university business – things like ribbon cuttings, that sort of thing.

Well, go Chanticleers. I do believe you all won a championship about a year ago, correct? 

We did. We won the 2016 NCAA baseball championship in Omaha, Nebraska. We were racing in Iowa that weekend. It was one of the only races I’ve missed of Brandon’s since the beginning of 2016.

They actually got the chance to go to the game after the race and see that happen. A lot of the university people did, so that was really cool. It was cool to be a part of a small university winning a huge championship.

So, how do you balance all of that – racing and college? 

It’s really tough. There (are) nights where I will not sleep.

Last night was actually one of them. I had a few assignments that were due at midnight that I was actually really pressed for time with. I got those done, then I had to be at the airport at 3 a.m. (ET) and hop on a 5 a.m. flight to get here today.

The University is really flexible with me when I’m working with Brandon directly. If I do happen to miss a class or something, it is considered official university representation, so they’ll work with me. My professors are pretty cool. They like what I’m doing. Plus I’m a marketing major, so it kind of ties in with what I’m doing in school.

Daylon Barr’s recent connection to NASCAR came through driver Brandon Brown and Coastal Carolina University. (Photo: Daylon Barr)

You guys have a little bit of brand presence out here with Brandon (Brown). A lot of times you’ll have the Coastal Carolina University schemes on the car. How is that for you, to see your university represented on the national stage in NASCAR?

I’ll tell you what, seeing Coastal Carolina come onboard for the races they do… Honestly, it’s a dream come true. Being part of the race team is one thing, and then having the support of your university – supporting not only Brandon, but me and Collin.

We all go to Coastal together. They support us, give us the resources and the tools. That’s exactly what I was looking for when choosing a university to go to. They have taken it above and beyond the call of duty – doing what a university should be doing for their students.

Your relationship with Brandon is obviously a special one. How did that begin to form, and how has it grown over this time working with him? 

I met him for the first time after the housing meeting, like I said. After Daytona, with how well he finished, we really bonded that night – me, Collin, Brandon and his girlfriend. It was almost a family event, honestly the coolest thing I’ve been a part of in NASCAR, 100%.

From there we kept growing out relationship through the races, and then we ended up living with each other, being roommates for an amount of time until I had to withdraw due to some medical issues.

Brandon’s such an awesome guy. He’s down to earth, very similar to me and Collin. He has a sense of humor that’s on-par with us, and it makes the race weekends so easy. They’re fun. It’s so much fun, it doesn’t feel like a job.

Moving forward, you’re 21. You’re still young, and you do a bit of everything. There are a lot of opportunities. What are the goals – short-term and long-term – for you? Where would you like to end up? 

I think about this all the time.

Obviously short-term I want to continue to build good relationships with the teams that I currently shoot for – Brandonbilt Motorsports, King Autosport. I’ve been helping with the marketing side a little bit too, going along with my major.

Long-term, I want to keep riding this wave with Brandon for as long as it goes. As for the other side, I want to keep going, too. I don’t know how long this is going to last. My mom said, ‘You’re young now. Do it while you can.’

I texted her the other day and said I’m going to keep doing it until I go broke. That’s basically how this sport is. You keep doing it until you make it big or go broke. I’m going big or going home, man. That’s what it is.

Having been in racing for a few years, I can tell you we’re all just in various states of broke. *Laughs* To wrap up, where can people follow you? 

“I’m most active on Twitter. You can follow me at @BarrVisuals. Instagram is the same handle. On Facebook I’m Daylon Barr Photography. I don’t use that as much. Feel free to send me a friend request if you want.

You can follow Brandon Brown on Twitter at @BrandonBrownRac. You can follow Collin Fern at @Collin_Fern, and Brandonbilt Motorsports is @BiltMotorsports.

Thank you so much, Daylon. Keep grinding, and don’t go too broke. Thanks for making time for me today.

Absolutely, thank you.

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