As October nears, most baseball players are thinking about playing under the lights and winning on the world’s biggest stage. Not Bret Holmes. He’s thinking about how he can score himself one of the fancy guitars given to the winner of the All American 400 at Tennessee’s Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Holmes is a former left-handed pitcher. He played in high school, but said that he’s hanging up the glove to focus more on racing and on his freshman year at Auburn University where he’s majoring in Building Sciences.
“I have to conserve some energy and time,” Holmes told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I don’t have much time available between racing on the weekend and classes on Tuesday and Thursday so I don’t have to miss any Friday classes when I travel somewhere for a race.
“I’m taking five classes. It’s a normal workload for a college student at 15 hours, but it is a little difficult especially because I can’t really get anything done on the weekends. But those weekdays are all about school. But it’s good because I like having something to keep me busy all the time.”
Holmes has certainly been busy both on and off the track in 2015. He’s raced all over the place, from his home state of Alabama to Tennessee to Indiana. He’s had a strong season in a Pro Late Model so far, turning a lot of heads no matter where he has raced. But the 18-year-old Alabama driver has actually described his season as “frustrating.”
“I’ve won two races at Montgomery Motor Speedway this year, which is cool,” Holmes said. “But I’ve finished second about seven or eight times this year and that is really frustrating. You’re right there and you come up that short. So I’m hoping to get a big win like that under my belt.”
Holmes said that winning at Nashville would be the biggest accomplishment of his career yet, and even though he finished 17th in last year’s event, he thinks he has what it takes to be contending for a win this time. However, he’s willing to settle for at least a top five.
“We are going into the race wanting to win,” said Holmes. “That’s why you go to any race. But realistically I’d say a top five. I’m really looking forward to it. I think we can do really well. I’m looking forward to it. I hope for a good outcome. We didn’t have the best car under us last year. We’ve got a better car this year and I have a lot more experience. I can’t wait for it.”
The only concern Holmes seems to have is the tire compound. The race track recently announced that they’re switching back to the Hoosier F45 compound for the race. Holmes said he’s raced on that tire multiple times, but that he and his team worked really hard to figure out a setup that worked for the previous tire compound in the couple of races they ran at the track earlier this season.
“I think that’s going to kind of level the playing field,” he explained. “So many people race on the F45 compound, especially in the Southeast. I think it’ll be a lot easier for people to adjust to that track. If they haven’t been there all year and they’re just coming for that race then it’ll be a lot easier to adjust.”
Holmes believes that a good, strong run in the 400 will show a lot of people just what he is capable of as a driver, and that his race team is capable of running with the big dogs at the big shows.
“There’s a lot of big races, but there’s really four big races that mean the most,” he said. “The Snowball Derby, the All American, the Winchester 400 and the Oxford 250. Those are huge races to win and it says a lot about you and your team if you can win one of those. Those are the best drivers in the country trying to compete, and even get in the race.”
Should Holmes win the race and that special guitar, he’s already decided what he’s going to do with the guitar. He said he will probably put it on display in his apartment, but you won’t find Holmes sitting in the grass on the Auburn campus strumming a few chords with his legs folded.
“I’d probably scare some girls away if I did that,” said Holmes with a laugh. “But I’ll definitely put it up in my apartment so people can see it and I’ll explain it. I might try to learn how to play it too.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com