Jeff Shearer | Auburn University
AUBURN, Ala. – Growing up 10 minutes from Talladega Superspeedway, Auburn senior Bret Holmes figures he was born to race.
“You’d hear the cars from the back porch,” said Bret, who began racing Go Karts as a 6-year-old. “I got my start at Talladega short track.”
From dirt late models to asphalt racing, Holmes steadily progressed, racing professionally on the ARCA Series while studying in Auburn’s University’s McWhorter School of Building Science in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.
“I’ve always been an Auburn fan,” he said. “I’ve always been at home here even when I was a kid. It just felt right.”
Bret’s family owns Holmes Excavating, a construction company in Munford, Alabama, specializing in dirt grading and utility lines installation.
“That’s something I want to fall back on if racing doesn’t work out,” he said. “It’s been a family company for a long time.”
Bret’s building science cohort members became his fan club of sorts, eager to engage with racing rivals who knock their friend and fellow student into the wall.
“They all watch me race and they dog the other drivers that beat me or run into me,” he said. “They cheer like crazy when we do well.”
Bret’s buddies had plenty to cheer about in July when Holmes took his first checkered flag in the ARCA Series at Kansas Speedway.
“Really big for us,” he said. “It’s taken a few years to get where we are right now, competing in the top three, top five, every week. We’re facing 20 to 40 other drivers. My pride is seeing our team grow from where it started when we were fighting for top tens. Now we’re fighting for wins.”
With five races remaining in the season, Holmes sits in second place in the point standings, just one point out of the lead, doubly impressive considering Bret’s family business sponsors his car.
“Racing is very expensive,” he said. “I’m trying to prove to companies that this is a good investment. That’s what I’m working toward.
“My team that we created a few years ago is competing with the likes of Joe Gibbs Racing, teams that are affiliated with NASCAR teams and that get manufacturing
“It’s really cool to see my team competing with teams that have who knows how much resources compared to us.”
For several years, Bret raced in a helmet with an Auburn logo, delighting race fans who pull for the Tigers.
“People who message us on social media to say, ‘Hey, I noticed your pit sign and helmet,’” Holmes said. “’We’re rooting for you.’”
While chasing a championship, Bret continues to work on his thesis project. He plans to graduate in December, earning his degree in five and a half years while racing from coast to coast.
“It’s been tough and challenging but I really enjoy construction management,” he said. “Auburn is my second home. It’s a place I can come to and come down from all of that pressure and stress from the weekend.”
If he can claim the ARCA Series championship, Holmes hopes to advance to the NASCAR truck series, then XFinity, on his way to the ultimate destination.
“That’s always been my dream, to make it into one of the top three series of NASCAR,” he said. “It’s a tough sport to make it in. There are only 40 drivers who get to go to the top level.”
With only a few coveted NASCAR Cup Series spots opening up each season, Bret Holmes knows the challenge ahead.
But one look in the rearview mirror reveals how far he’s already come – on the track and in the lab at Gorrie Center.
“Auburn provided people who are behind me and in my corner,” Bret said. “It’s been a home for a lot of friendships that will last for a long time. It’s been amazing.”
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