E.A. Sports Today

Hometown hero

Local racing dignitaries turn out at Talladega Superspeedway to celebrate Munford native Holmes’ 2020 ARCA Series championship

Bret Holmes (R) and his dad/car owner Stacy stand at the ARCA Wall of Champions at Talladega Superspeedway where he’ll have a permanent spot after winning this year’s Series championship. (Talladega Superspeedway photo)

Special to East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA – Bret Holmes, set to graduate from Auburn University next month with a degree in Building Science, returned to his home track Tuesday night to celebrate winning the 2020 ARCA Menards Series Championship. 

With a host of friends, family and local guests, the Munford native and driver of the family-owned No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet, was honored during a “watch party” in Talladega’s Big Bill’s Social Club for the 2020 ARCA Menards Series Virtual Awards.

“This is so huge, to have all my family, friends and old racing buddies here,” said Holmes, who grew up less than 15 minutes from the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. “It’s surreal, and this is the happiest I have been in a while. It’s been an amazing day.”

As part of the celebration, NASCAR and International Motorsports Hall of Famer Red Farmer, one of the original members of the famed Alabama Gang who raced against Holmes’ father Stacy at the Talladega Short Track, spoke.

“I remember racing against Stacy, then they let me stay at their home on those late Saturday nights,” the 88-year-old Farmer remembered. “The room they originally had for me didn’t have a TV in it, and I really wanted to watch TV, so they gave me Bret’s room and made him move to another room.

“Seriously, I have seen him come through the ranks, starting out go-karts through Super Late Models, and now ARCA. All his hard work has paid off. He is now a national champion and I am proud of him.”

The other two original members of the Alabama Gang – Bobby and Donnie Allison – couldn’t make the ceremony, but they both talked to the 23-year-old Holmes via phone earlier in the day.

“Having Red here tonight was extra special,” Holmes said. “Loved hearing him talk about how he stayed with us and racing against each other. Then, getting a chance to talk to Bobby and Donnie on the phone, and them telling me congratulations, was just unreal. Just knowing they are watching and proud of me, I can’t put into words how cool that is. I hope to continue to make them proud.”

Holmes clinched the title at Kansas Speedway where earlier in the season he took his first ARCA win. He also had 19 top-10 and 14 top-five finishes in 20 races.

During the evening, he was presented two proclamations – by Talladega County and the City of Lincoln. In addition, he received a Commendation by the State of Alabama and Gov. Kay Ivey. Talladega Superspeedway also had two large roadside congratulatory billboards placed in the area, one off I-20 and one in Munford.

“The track did a lot they didn’t tell me about until I got here that kind of surprised me, so it’s been really surreal,” Holmes said. 

From the age of 8, Holmes cut his teeth by winning in go-karts (for three years) and then moved on to dirt track cars at Talladega Short Track. He won the 2012 championship at the Short Track, followed by others on asphalt at Montgomery Speedway (2015) and 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola (2016).

Prior to this year’s title, he ran the full ARCA schedule for three years, finishing sixth in 2017, 10th in 2018 and third a year ago. This year, he completed an amazing 2709 of 2714 laps (99.8 percent) and won at Kansas Speedway and was third at Talladega.

Holmes continues the tradition of successful drivers from Alabama, including Grant Enfinger (Fairhope) who won the ARCA title in 2015, and was fourth in the 2020 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series battle. Other popular Alabama drivers who won national titles include NASCAR Hall of Famers’ Bobby Allison (NASCAR Cup Series in 1983) and Farmer (3-time NASCAR Late Model Sportsman in 1969, ’70 and ’71; 1956 NASCAR Modified) from Hueytown, and Steve Grissom (NASCAR Xfinity in 1993), a native of Gadsden.

“Getting a chance to talk on the phone with them (the Allisons), just unreal,” Holmes said. “Just knowing they’re watching and they’re proud of me, I can’t put into words how cool that is and I hope we continue to keep making people proud.”

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