On September 16, 1960 the American tv cartoon classic “The Flintstones” was introduced to the world, so was Mark “The Bomber” Barnett. Hailing from an unlikely place for a professional motocross rider, Bridgeview, Illinois, Mark Barnett would go on to achieve one of the winning-est careers of any pro AMA 125cc rider ever and prove you don’t have to be from So-Cal or Florida to be fast. At the date of this article, Barnett ranks in the top 3 all time 125cc outdoor national class wins. Only Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart have more wins in the 125cc outdoor class.
Mark began his professional racing career with Fox Racing at just sixteen years of age in 1977 on a privateer Suzuki. 1978 had Factory Suzuki knocking at his door. It was a smart move for Suzuki and The Bomber as in 1980, 81 and 82 Mark would clench the AMA 125cc national championships 3 years in a row. Not too shabby. Barnett would stay with Suzuki for most of his career.
Mark wasn’t just good on the 125s. He proved he could ride the bigger bikes just as well, as in 1981 he wrapped up the AMA Supercross championship edging out a stacked field of riders like Mike Bell (2nd), Kent Howerton (3rd), Jim Gibson (4th), Bob Hannah (5th), Donnie Hansen (6th), Darrel Shultz (7th) and Broc Glover (8th). Mark placed 2nd over all in the 1982 and ’83 Supercross seasons aboard his Suzuki as well.
In 1983 Mark helped team America win the Motocross des Nations Championship along side David Bailey, Broc Glover and Jeff Ward.
Mark gained his nickname “The Bomber” because of his aggressive riding style. Barnett was possibly the fastest in the corners compared to any rider of the early 1980s.
After his professional racing career, Mark went on to build and design tracks for top professional racers including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Davi Millsaps, and Chad Reed. Not a bad resume. It’s no wonder Mark was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001.