Christy Barnett, the fastest woman in Nascar, came to CSO after many years of pain. With the help of Dr. Michael Janssen, she received a total disc replacement, then this year had lumbar spine surgery to alleviate pain after a serious accident, in which her upper spine disconnected from her lower spine. Read below for more of Christy’s story. For more information on the treatments we offer at the Center for Spine and Orthopedics, click here!
Professional dirt track race car driver Christy Barnett (formerly Christy Georges) holds an impressive number of records, including the fastest woman in NASCAR after hitting 208 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. An office filled with 800 trophies attests to her expertise and speed.
In addition to NASCAR, she has also raced flat track three-wheelers on dirt as well as motorcycles. “I’ve led an extremely exciting, active lifestyle,” says Christy, who at age 60 has been racing every weekend 11 months out of 12 months a year for 40 years.
The Start of Christy’s Spine Pain
Christy says that her spine pain may have started many years ago when she was working out with heavyweights. She was lifting 450 pounds when her wrist began to hurt. She asked her trainer to unhook the hooks. He did and then let go. “That took me down to the floor. It was the start of my pain,” she says.
Later, while racing flat track three-wheelers on a dirt track, Christy hit a wet spot. Her bike spun around backward, and Christy landed on her chin. “That was the demise of my neck,” says Christy. After that, she visited a chiropractor for 25 years. “He kept telling me that there was something wrong with my neck, but my back actually hurt more.”
Christy suffered many more injuries during subsequent years, the result of numerous car wrecks, including hitting a wall at 100 mph. “Everything wrong with my body is self-inflicted,” she says. “I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have done.”
Numbness & Tingling Leads Christy to Seek Help
It was not until Christy felt numbness and tingling in her arm that she got an MRI. As soon as she saw it, she knew something was seriously wrong. Her chiropractor reviewed it and told her she couldn’t race anymore. He referred her to a nearby neurosurgeon, who said that her spine was almost cutting into her spinal cord, and she could become paralyzed at any time. Three days later, she had cervical spine (neck) fusion surgery. From then on, she felt discomfort all the time.
Total Disc Replacement Surgery by Dr. Mike Janssen
Fortunately, a friend, Russell Stephens, CEO of MSP Ignition, told her about Dr. Michael Janssen, a top spine surgeon in Denver. Christy flew to Denver for disc replacement surgery by Dr. Janssen. “He took out the fusion hardware and put in a disc replacement at the level above the fusion,” she says. “After that, I could spin my head like an owl.” That was in January 2019.
A Second Surgery to Treat Low Back Pain
Early in 2020, Christy once again sought out Dr. Janssen to alleviate the lumbar spine pain she had had for five or six years following a serious accident. “I got punted outside the track, struck a telephone pole, and dropped 40 feet, landing on concrete. It was a hard landing,” she recalls. “Bending over and standing for any amount of time hurt from then on. I was awake all night long.”
Christy returned to Denver on February 18 and had lumbar spine surgery by Dr. Janssen the next morning. The procedure lasted three hours. “He put rods and a big spacer in my spine. It was as if my upper spine was completely disconnected from my lower spine,” she says.
Following the surgery, Christy got up and walked about 50 laps around the surgery center. The next day, the surgery center discharged her. She and her husband, Sherman, stayed a couple more days to visit Blackhawk before returning to El Paso, TX, where the two own and operate the world’s largest Harley Davidson dealership, Barnett Harley-Davidson in East El Paso.
Christy and Sherman have been racing cars for 40+ years and want to continue racing for as long as they can. Thanks to Dr. Mike Janssen, who performed total disc replacement surgery on Christy’s cervical spine (neck), she is able to continue racing.
When asked about advice that Christy has to offer others with spine pain, she says, “Come to Denver and get fixed by Dr. Janssen!”
For more information or an appointment
with Dr. Janssen, call 303-287-2800.
Editor’s Note: Race fans can watch Christy and Sherman compete every Saturday night during the regular season at the Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico. When the season ends, the duo head to the Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, where Christy begins her out-of-state schedule.