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Mar 21, 2017

​Daytona 200: Jody Barry, Hero

Jody Barry selflessly helping trapped and injured fellow racer Dustin Apgar get free from his burning motorcycle during the Daytona 200. Apgar's hand can be seen outstretched from the left end of the motorcycle. Photo by PJ Cook, courtesy of Dustin Apgar.

One of the failed starts at the 76th Daytona 200 held on March 18 at Daytona International Speedway resulted in a bad crash that could have been much worse had it not been for the heroic actions of 18-year-old racer Jody Barry.

Barry, a two-season veteran in the MotoAmerica KTM RC Cup series, was competing in the Daytona 200 for the first time, and it was not going smoothly. Barry crashed his Rhoades Racing/Farrell Performance Kawasaki ZX-6R in his first practice and first qualifying session, but the Illinois rider pulled things together and qualified 15th.

The first start of the race was aborted after one lap because of a failure with a piece of the track’s timing and scoring equipment. A complete restart was called for, and the 60-plus riders were flagged off to restart the race.

After one lap was completed, red flags came out again. Word quickly circulated that a bike was on fire on the track exiting Turn Six, the turn that takes riders from the infield on to the East banking of the superspeedway.

A few moments into the red flag delay, Barry returned to pit lane with his damaged Kawasaki and an incredible story that he told in a very modest manner.

“The guy in front of me crashed,” Barry told Roadracingworld.com. “I expected him to just slide off to the outside, but his tires must have hooked or something. It stood him up and he turned back to the inside, right in front of me. I had nowhere to go and the bike hit me.

“The guy was still kind of on the bike when we collided. Then he was being dragged by his bike. His foot was caught in his chain and sprockets. After we crashed, I got up and saw he was still stuck in his bike and it was on fire. I had to pull the guy out of his chain so he didn’t get caught in the fire.”

The other rider was Ghilli Man Racing’s Dustin Apgar, who had highsided his Yamaha YZF-R6 and landed awkwardly back on his machine, causing him to cross paths with Barry, according to other riders who witnessed the incident.

“I don’t know if you remember how Marco Simoncelli crashed, but it was the exact same thing,” Apgar, a 37-year-old father of a seven-year-old boy, told Roadracingworld.com Tuesday from a hotel in Florida. “It was wild how the tires pushed. I threw myself to the inside to try and save it and push off. The next thing you know I was highsiding and then getting hit.

“I remember getting flopped up in the air and landing on the bike, then all the sparks. My foot slipped into the rear wheel and locked up the rear wheel. The second my foot went in there [the pain] was pretty bad, and at the same time it lit on fire. I tried to jump up, but I was sliding with the bike and I couldn’t go anywhere. I was attached to it. When I finally stopped I was doing everything I possibly could to get my foot out and get away from the fire, because it was everywhere. It was on all sides. It was over my head.

“I could see Jody. He was waving with his arms, like ‘Come over here! Get away.’ And I was pointing at my foot, like, ‘I can’t. Help me.’ He just came running over and he was standing over me trying to get my foot out of the wheel. The flames were getting intense, and there was blood literally squirting out of a gash in my thigh. So I’m trying to hold my thigh while he’s working to get my foot out of the wheel. There was no one else there. I kept seeing bikes go by. I was thinking ‘someone help me’ or help us. Finally, Jody got my foot out. He grabbed both my arms and dragged me off to safety.

“I’m calling him a modest hero. It’s a pretty cool deal. The way I was raised you help people no matter what. So it’s pretty cool to have people out there who would do something like this. I definitely know a lot of people who would not go running into a ball of flame to save someone like that. And I never met Jody before.”

While Barry saved Apgar from getting burned in the fire, Apgar did not escape without injury. He was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for serious lacerations to the first two toes on his left foot, which were amputated. Apgar also suffered a deep puncture wound to his left thigh made by a footpeg, which narrowly missed his femoral artery.

Apgar said thanks to sponsorship from the MORE (Musculoskeletal Orthopedic Research and Education) Foundation he had plans to contest the entire MotoAmerica Superstock 600 Championship in 2017. The injuries he suffered at Daytona, however, will force Apgar to put those plans on hold for at least the next six weeks while his wounds heal and he can adapt to the changes to his foot. But Apgar says thanks to Barry he can work toward coming back to racing as soon as possible so he can continue promoting his shop, DTR Motorsports, and motorcycle racing in general.

Barry was able to restart the race and eventually finished 15th.

For his selfless actions to save Apgar from further injury during the Daytona 200, Roadracing World in cooperation with the American Sportbike Racing Association (ASRA) will be presenting Jody Barry with a new award, the Hero of Roadracing Award.

Congratulations, Jody Barry! And thank you for selflessly helping a fellow racer in need!