As the hauler door closes at the race shop in Mooresville, NC., the Bret Holmes Racing team prepares for another race weekend. The hauler is loaded with a shiny No. 23 Golden Eagle Syrup Chevrolet SS, the teams’ bags are packed and ready for their flight south and the driver, Bret Holmes, finishes up his workday at Holmes ll Excavation.
It may seem like a normal race week for most, but this week, the team is headed to Bret’s hometown and hungry for a win.
Bret grew up in a small town about 11 miles northwest of Talladega Superspeedway. A lot of drivers have a hometown track or one that’s near their hometown, but Bret literally grew up at the tracks around Talladega. Bret’s dad, Stacy, raced at the dirt track when Bret was younger, igniting Bret’s love for racing.
"My dad would come over here when the Allisons were testing and that's when he fell in love with the sport and started racing at the dirt track,” said Bret. “I grew up watching him, started racing on the kart track, and we always dreamed about racing across the street.”
Bret started racing go-karts when he was six years old at the Talladega Short Track, across the street from Talladega Superspeedway. He remembers hearing race cars from the back porch of his childhood home.
“It’s kind of weird how sound carries to our backyard,” said Bret. “There’s a restaurant about five or six miles away that has live music on Friday nights, and you can hear it from the backyard at the house. You can really hear the dirt cars when they’re racing at the short track, especially on the restarts. When I was a kid, I’d love sitting out there and listening to them.”
After racing go-karts for four years, Bret tried his hand at some asphalt racing. He competed in the Crate Late Model Division at Talladega Short Track and Green Valley Speedway. During this time, he racked up two wins and captured a track championship.
Why stop there? Bret moved into a Super Late Model and began racing in the Southern All Stars Series. He won Rookie of the Year honors his first season and finished second in the driver point standings. Success continued for the young driver when he won the Show Me the Money Series Pro Late Model championship at Alabama’s Montgomery Motor Speedway in 2015.
As the years flew by, racing at tracks in and around his hometown, Bret set his sights on his next endeavor: college.
The Munford, Ala., native dreamed of being an Auburn Tiger from a young age. He attended Auburn University as a building science major at the esteemed university. All while attending a full slate of classes, Bret continued his racing career. He juggled schoolwork, and personal life and traveled to and from races all over the United States.
“I always wanted to attend Auburn University, even when I was younger, that’s just the college I said I was going to go to,” said Bret. “You never know if you’ll be good enough to get into a certain college, but you work hard and make it happen. Just like in racing.”
In his senior year of studies, Bret was racing a full-time schedule in the ARCA Menards Series. That’s 20 races on top of collegiate work. At the halfway point of the year, he was second in the point standings and working through his last semester of college.
All of the hard work and dedication paid off for him, Bret raced his way to the ARCA Menards Series driver championship in 2020.
“It was really difficult to manage school and racing but when you want it bad enough, you make it work,” said Bret. “It was hard to juggle two aspects of your life that both needed so much of your time to be successful. I needed to dedicate as much time as I could studying and doing homework for school but at the same time, I needed to spend time at the racetrack and be present. You know, watch old races, study tracks, be with the team, all to be successful.”
Following the championship, Bret returned to his life in Alabama and began working in the family business. Bret now juggles working a full-time job, running Bret Holmes Racing, and racing in two different series.
“Things really haven’t changed,” laughed Bret. “Instead of schoolwork, it’s a full-time job. But I wouldn’t change it. I’m doing what I love. I have a good job, and I get to race. I’m thankful for a good group of guys back at the shop that helps keep the race team going and for my family and friends for all their support.”
This week, Bret straps into the No. 23 Golden Eagle Syrup Chevrolet SS in front of his hometown crowd at Talladega Superspeedway. The Alabama native will take to the 2.66-mile superspeedway on Saturday afternoon for the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 200. Catch the action live on FOX Sports 1, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
About Golden Eagle Syrup: On October 28, 1928, the first Golden Eagle Syrup was produced in Fayette, Ala. Starting in a small 320-square-foot frame building behind the founder’s home, the continual growth of demand led to the purchase of the building that it has occupied since 1944. Golden Eagle Syrup started and has remained a family-owned, family-run business over the past 92 years. The present owners have a strong commitment to preserving the tradition and quality of the Golden Eagle Brand while expanding the business to new product lines utilizing syrup. The Golden Eagle Brand continues to grow, building upon hard work and a commitment to excellence.