By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
Seventeen-year-old Holley Hollan doesn’t mind recognition. In fact, she’s craves it. Fame and fortune are her goals and she’s just getting started.
“I was on TV during the Chili Bowl,’’ said Hollan, a midget car racer from Broken Arrow. “I was eating lunch and some people came up to talk to me. They had seen me on the news. I want to make it known that I’m from here and I hope to motivate people.’’
Called “Holleywood’’ by her fans, Hollan has the pedigree to succeed. A fourth generation racer and the daughter of Tulsa businessman and racer Harley Hollan, the personable blonde has her career already mapped out: Become the first female to win a national midget event and then it’s on to NASCAR. No big deal.
“This is the year my career is taking off. This is the year to make some things happen,’’ Hollan said. “I’ve been competing consistently and I’m working toward winning a national race. That would do a lot for me. I have top notch equipment and it’s only making me better.’’
Hollan is in the midst of her first full season on the USAC Nos Energy Drink National Midget Championships series. Over 80 races are on her schedule and she must also find the time to complete high school and work for her father’s business.
Hollan, who attended Broken Arrow schools until her freshman year, is a senior online at the Depic Charter Schools. She said after turning 19, she will move to North Carolina full time and pursue the NASCAR ranks, all under the watchful eye of her father.
“I grew up around race tracks and watched him race. When I turned five I saw other kids race and I wanted to do it. I won the Port City junior sprints championship when I was 12,’’ said Hollan. “Even now my dad answers questions for me and a lot of times he races with me. He does a good job of giving me information and I definitely have an advantage because he races mini sprints. He’s my best friend.’’
As a freshman in school, Hollan followed in her father’s footstep and began doing mechanical work on her race cars. Now she builds them professionally for Driven Midwest, her dad’s company. She also sells racing parts to customers.
Christopher Bell of Norman, winner of the last three Chili Bowls, saw Hollan compete and she was subsequently invited to join Keith Kunz Motorsports’ Toyota team. Last year she ran five times. This season she’s running the full circuit in the Bullet Toyota.
In January’s Chili Bowl, Hollan advanced to the D feature and ranked as the highest finishing female in the event. She said with the team and equipment behind her, she felt fast and confident.
“We had bad luck,’’ Hollan said. “A car crashed in front of me and I stalled in the D feature. I thought we could have done better than we did. My goal coming in was to make a feature on prelim night and I did. I was happy with it (her finish) because with all that competition, you have to take what you can get.’’
With experience in both stock cars and midgets, Hollan said she enjoys racing, no matter the class. She enjoys speed, pure and simple. And the transition from dirt to asphalt has been challenging.
“I’m still learning both of them,’’ she said. “In midgets you get sideways at full throttle and it’s completely different, but I do enjoy both of them.’’
Despite her burgeoning talent, Hollan said one of her biggest adjustments moving up in the sport is competing against drivers she idolized as a child.
“I have to put that in perspective,’’ she said. “But I run 110 races a year and the more laps I run the better I feel. My goals are to consistently get better and, obviously, to be the first female to win a national USAC midget race. That’s my ultimate goal this year.’’
There are other goals for Hollan to consider. One of them is being accepted by both male and other female competitors. She said sometimes that proves difficult at best.
“Being a female in a male dominated sport, for obvious reasons, sets me apart,’’ noted Hollan. “I don’t have pink on my suits or my car. Even when I was five I didn’t want to look like a girl racing. In some ways it gives me an advantage. Toyota is trying to find a female to win a national race and they put me in a perfect position to win.
“There two or three other girls I race with and winning is good for me and there are some keyboard warriors out there who are jealous. A lot of girl racers don’t like to see me where I am. I’ve been exposed to that ever since I was younger and it gets worse the higher up you go. There are people who don’t want you to get higher and then there are other drivers who are happy to see a girl do well. I do feel like I’ve made a positive impact in the sport.’’
Hollan has found it’s a constant struggle to make believers out some naysayers who doubt her ability and the legitimacy of the sport itself.
“People I went to school with contact me. A lot of them used to think that what I do is not a sport,’’ Hollan said. “Now they see me doing well in racing and they step back and see it in a different way.’’
Holleywood is hoping that someday her critics and scoffers see her on the podium at a NASCAR event. That would be the ultimate proof of her racing talent while also serving as her sweetest revenge.
By GLENN HIBDON