Bret Holmes, a 20-year-old racer from nearby Munford, is sixth in the ARCA standings. Holmes, a graduate of The Donoho School and currently a student at Auburn, offers his perspective on this weekend’s Alabama 500, as told to Anniston Star correspondent Mark McCarter.
I probably knew about this speedway as early as I could understand shapes and colors. I first started going to races at Talladega Short Track, just down the road, with my dad Stacy when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. (Editor’s note: Stacy Holmes once held the Talladega Short Track record for fastest lap – until Bret broke it in 2013.)
I don’t remember my first race at Talladega Superspeedway, but I have memories of being in the infield and the pits. I kinda knew I wasn’t old enough, that kids my age weren’t allowed, and I always felt like I was doing something bad, but it was exciting at the same time. It was kind of an exclusive thing to get to do.
We’d hang out in Kenny Schrader’s RV or Carl Edwards’ RV every time, because my dad was good friends with them. That’s who I’d always root for. Now they’re not here, and I don’t know who to root for any more.
It’s really cool this place is packed out this weekend, and it’s that way for a reason. This is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race at Talladega. To see him do well this weekend would be insane. That would for sure cap off his career.
When I meet people, they don’t know where Munford is. So I usually just tell them I’m from Talladega. We live just five or 10 minutes from here, and I grew up racing here. People know about Talladega, they know about the exciting races here and when they know about me racing, they think that this is a match made in heaven.
I’ve gotten to race twice at Talladega Superspeedway in the ARCA Series. The first time, in 2016, we finished ninth. We could have had a better finish, but a car in front of me checked up – he got spooked when somebody in front went through some oil-dry and he thought it was somebody wrecking – and that killed my momentum.
Last spring, we were running sixth on the last lap and got hit from behind and turned into the wall.
I normally don’t get nervous before races, but even that second race here I felt like I was as nervous as the first time I ever ran a race. There’s always so much around it, the whole environment. This is where my friends come watch me race.
But I love that feeling of being nervous. It means I’m having a lot of fun.