Munford, Alabama is not one of the most easily-recognizable names to most citizens. It’s a tiny town in Talladega County, and at last count had approximately 1,300 people that lived there. Perhaps the only reason many would know its significance was if they were a Civil War buff, noting one of the last major battles east of the Mississippi River was fought there on April 23, 1865.
But being located in Talladega County means Munford is in one of the biggest hotbeds for motorsports in America. Not only is the mammoth 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway located within the county limits, so is the Talladega Short Track which is located, conveniently, right across the street. So not only is there breath-taking 200 mile per hour racing by the NASCAR superstars there’s also the fender-swapping dirt tracking by the Saturday night heroes all in a very small geographic area.
One of the 355 families that make Munford their home is the Holmes family. Father Stacy owns and operates Holmes II Excavating, and dabbled in the dirt track world where he befriended fellow dirt tracker, and NASCAR star, Ken Schrader. Holmes’s son Bret grew up at the race track, spending time with his dad and his friends, and got to know drivers like Schrader very well at a very young age. He also followed in his footsteps and slung dirt with the best in the business at places like the Talladega Short Track where he got to race against, and beat, drivers like the legendary Red Farmer.
In 2016, the Holmes family made the leap into the ARCA Menards Series. They purchased equipment from GMS Racing, which had just won the series championship the year before with driver Grant Enfinger. A native of Fairhope, Alabama, Enfinger lent guidance and support to Bret as he made his first foray into big time stock car racing. He even climbed aboard the team’s car at Pocono and drove to victory.
A building sciences major at Auburn University, the younger Holmes stays focused on his racing career. His desire to win boiled over with frustration last season when his team wasn’t performing at a level he was happy with. Rather than come to the track and race for tenth, Holmes parked the team for the second half of the season and spent the off-season retooling. He did run three more races for old family friend Schrader.
“We decided we needed to regroup and figure out what we needed to be successful for this season,” said Holmes. “I was fortunate enough to be able to still run a few races. Seat time is valuable. We worked hard to rebuild our team over the off season. Racing is a family sport. You travel a lot with your team and get to know everyone really well. It’s important to have a strong leader and hardworking crew members. We wanted to find the right guys for the job, and we did just that.”
Holmes made big adjustments to his team, hiring veteran crew chief Shane Huffman to lead his efforts in 2019. A former driver himself, Huffman is able to bridge the communication gap between his young driver and crew.
“Shane and I sit down after every race and talk through what we need to work on to be a better team,” said Holmes. “Our communication as a whole has really improved since the beginning of the season. It’s not something you can work at until you’re at the track and racing. I feel like the (No.) 23 team is in a really good place right now. You know it always takes time for a new team to get to know each other, learn how each other works, really gel together, but I think we’re past all that and are working well together. I have no doubt in Shane and our crew with everything that they’re bringing to the table. They’re building fast cars every week. They’ve all been a huge key to our team that we’ve been lacking the last two years.”
There’s nothing Holmes would like more than to join the list of ARCA Menards Series winners at his home track. Should be pull off a victory at his home track, he’d join Farmer and Davey Allison as Alabama natives to win at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I spent about seven years of my life racing across the street at the dirt track,” said Holmes. “This is the race on the schedule that I circle. Being an Alabama native, I’d love to win here more than anything. I went to school in Anniston, Alabama, that’s about 20 minutes down the road. I attend Auburn University now which isn’t far and grew up in Munford. That’s about five minutes away, literally almost my backyard. I’ll have a lot of family and friends at the race and being able to perform well in front of them and my hometown crowd, would be a great feeling. We’re hungry for our first win but to do it here, at Talladega Superspeedway, would mean all that much more.”
Practice for the General Tire 200 is scheduled for 9:30 am ET/8:30 am CT on Friday, April 26, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 3:35 pm ET/2:35 pm CT. The green flag will drop on the General Tire 200 at 6 pm ET/5 pm CT. The race will be shown live on FS1. ARCA for Me members will be able to follow live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat throughout all on-track activity for free at ARCARacing.com. New members can join for free by registering at ARCARacing.com/login.