INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – There are no retakes here. Stanton Barrett has to get it right the first time, and every time.

The Hollywood stuntman with more than 200 movies and TV series to his credit, and probably just as many broken bones, torn muscles and assorted injuries, is trying to prove himself on auto racing’s biggest stage as a rookie at the Indianapolis 500.

“I’ve never experienced something like this,” Barrett said Tuesday at the start of the two-day Indy rookie tests. “I’ve been here in a stock car and I’ve had the opportunity to run the three IndyCar races and I have a lot better grasp what to expect about the cars, but you have to approach it like any other race: You make laps and get your seat time and you have your process of learning and building up to the point that you need to be.”

The 36-year-old daredevil grew up in a world of speed, thrills and danger.

His father, Stan Barrett, was a longtime Hollywood stuntman and NASCAR driver and 30 years ago piloted a rocket car at almost 740 mph, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier on land. His brother, David Barrett, also is a stuntman and a movie and TV director and producer.

Stanton Barrett also competes in extreme skiing, motorcycling, paragliding and surfing. He began racing in the NASCAR Nationwide series in 1992 and has driven in almost 200 races in that series and in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup series. He joined the CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G in the IRL’s IndyCar series this season, with a best finish so far of 12th in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It’s only scary driving a race car when they don’t work and you have your hands full and you’re on the edge all the time,” he said. “I’d have to say the stunt stuff is by far more scary when it comes to most of the things we do. But you have to respect both of them. They’re both very, very worthy of respect and will definitely bite you if you don’t.”

Barrett’s film credits include “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Spider-Man,” “Jurassic Park,” “Blade,” “Batman” and “Volcano.” Crashes and flips in that part of his career are part of the daily routine, just the sort of stuff he must avoid at Indy.

“It just wears and tears on your body more than anything,” he said of the pounding he’s taken over the past 20 years. “The broken bones and things like that heal, but it’s the torn ligaments and muscles and tendons and the constant wear and tear on your body and your back, things that takes a long time to heal. I have other injuries that have come from motocross racing and skiing and snowmobile racing and things like that. Not all of it’s from stunts.”

There’s probably no part of his body that hasn’t been injured at some time, he said. He wouldn’t pick out his scariest moment, but he said one of his favorite stunts was a car flip he did in one episode of the 2002 TV series “Fastlane,” which was directed by his brother.

“That was really cool, and I did some really great motorcycle stuff in ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’ and ‘Batman.’ … I won stunt awards for a scene we did in ‘Jurassic Park.’ I’ve had a great, great career in Hollywood. “

It’s been a lot better than his career in auto racing, so far.

He won 21 of 28 go-kart races as a youngster, but in 174 Nationwide races since 1992, he’s finished only six times among the top 10 and never in the top five. In 22 Sprint Cup races from 1999 to 2006 he never finished in the top 10.

This year, he’s co-owner of a new team with veteran car owner Greg Beck and longtime motorsports marketer Steve Sudler. Full practice for the May 24 race begins Wednesday.

Barrett says finding sponsorship has been a struggle.

“Right now we’re kind of under the gun,” he said. “A lot of our stuff hasn’t come together this week like it was supposed to, and we’re still waiting on getting some money so we can get on the track. We’ve got to get through rookie orientation or we can’t run the rest of May. … So that’s our No. 1 goal. No. 2 is to qualify for the Indy 500.”

And if that doesn’t work out?

“My brother called me and said. ‘Man, stop racing. Come back to Hollywood, we’ll be a great team,” Barrett said.

But not just yet.

“I enjoy doing both,” he said. “Film has provided me the opportunity to be able to keep racing. Right now I’m doing very few films, just a handful a year because of my schedule, but it’s something I love to do. … It’s something I’m passionate about, and the same with auto racing. I don’t plan on ever getting out of it, from driving to being a team owner and helping other people live their driving dreams as well.”

Of course, Hollywood has its benefits, even though he doesn’t get the name or face recognition from the public as the stars he works with.

“We still date a lot of the actresses and still have fame here and there. But that’s not our deal,” he said. “We go in, do our job and get out and go have fun.”

AP-ES-05-05-09 1727EDT


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