(Mooresville, NC) Harold Holly, crew chief on the No. 10 NestlÃ©Â® Nesquik Ford Taurus, was born and raised in Pell City, Alabama, only a few miles west of Talladega Superspeedway. Holly's introduction to racing came from his father, who took him...
(Mooresville, NC) Harold Holly, crew chief on the No. 10 Nestlé® Nesquik Ford Taurus, was born and raised in Pell City, Alabama, only a few miles west of Talladega Superspeedway. Holly's introduction to racing came from his father, who took him to every NASCAR event held at the track, starting when he was only six years old.
"My dad is the person who has most inspired my racing career," said Holly. "I learned my basic hand skills with tools from him. He was a master electrician and an awesome mechanic. In my eyes, he was like McGyver with tools; he could do anything with them. I strived really hard to be as good as him. He also took me to all the races at Talladega Superspeedway when I was young, and that, combined with liking to work with tools is what fueled my desire to become involved in racing."
Holly's first job in racing started when he was eight years old. Holly started turning wrenches on his little league football coach's late model dirt car, a gentleman named Mack Abercrombie. Mostly they raced at the Talladega Short Track, located across the street from the famed 2.66-mile superspeedway.
"It was from my little league football coach, Mack Abercrombie, where I started gaining my actual racing skills. I spent almost every weekend with Mack working on his race car. We raced mostly at the Talladega short track, but we also raced at all the local short tracks in the area. My most special memory with Mack was winning the track championship when I was about 15 years old at the Green Valley Speedway in Gadsen, AL. We won 11 straight races that year." Holly raced with Abercrombie all through his high school years and soon thereafter, he turned to another local racer to further his racing career.
"When I was 19, I knocked on Mickey Gibbs door and asked him for a job," said Holly. "Mickey was the local big wheel, driving in the ARCA and ASA series. He was from Glencoe, AL only about 30 miles from my hometown. I told him that if he gave me a place to sleep and food to eat, I'd do anything for the race team. Two weeks later he called me back and told me if I wanted a job to show up at Talladega, where they were testing that week. That is where my professional career started. The first year with Mickey, we raced all types of cars: ASA, The All American Challenge and All-Pro. We raced anything on asphalt that paid good money to win."
After working with Mickey Gibbs for about a year, Holly left his hometown roots in Alabama and moved to North Carolina. Holly got a job working for Alan Kulwicki's Winston Cup team.
"I got the job with Alan Kulwicki through Bob Campbell, who was part owner of ppc Racing last year," said Holly. "Bob worked with Mickey Gibbs when I was there and when Alan needed a tire specialist and someone to help drive the truck, Bob convinced Alan to give me a shot.
"At that time, I thought I had mastered the role of tire specialist because I had worked on so many types of cars. But Alan soon brought to my attention that I didn't know anything. Alan had developed a system himself for tires. He actually gave me a math test before he would bestow the title of tire specialist upon me. He would throw out fractions to me and I had to be able to add and subtract them on the spot for him. He was so intimidating that I failed the test the first time, because I locked up in front of him. Once I overcame being intimidated, I smoked the test the second time.
"From that point on, I used Alan's system with the tires and I learned so much from that job. I think being a tire specialist gave me more knowledge that has better prepared me for the role of crew chief. Every time Alan changed something on the car, from the chassis, springs, camber, noseweight, etc., I saw the end result it had on the tires.
"I was so young when I started working on cars, I couldn't comprehend what I was learning. I could make the mechanical change the person wanted and I knew how to put 100 lbs. of wedge in the car, but I didn't know why I was doing it. The why didn't come into effect until I started working for Alan. That job of tire specialist helped me get an understanding of the business that, I think, has translated into my success as a crew chief."
Now that Holly has reached the pinnacle of success by winning the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2000, he is excited about returning to Talladega.
"I will always look forward to racing at Talladega because my family still lives in Pell City, and being able to race in front of my father always gives me sense of pride," said Holly. "I know that everything I have achieved in racing goes back to him introducing me to racing as a boy and all my career accomplishments, I share with him."