WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Audio and story by RaceChaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker — Photo By Eric Hylton — Growing up in the 1970’s in Central New York State as a die-hard race fan from from five years old, I used to love reading the “trades” like Gater Racing News, Speed Sport News and Winston Cup Scene. I’d read about tracks in the south like Hickory Motor Speedway, Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Martinsville Speedway. I’d dream about someday being able to go see those tracks.
I’d also read about Bowman Gray Stadium. I’d read about my modified heroes from the North like Geoff Bodine, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook who would travel south and compete against the best the south had to offer. It seemed there was something “different” about this track. Something mythical.
I just didn’t fully understand what it was until I moved here to North Carolina and saw it for myself. It’s a racetrack in the summer and a football field in the fall and winter.
How cool is that?
In those days it seemed commonplace for some of the “locals” to step up into the NASCAR “Grand National” or “Sportsman” cars and compete against the big boys when they’d come to those tracks. I’d watch on TV and hear the stories of this one or that one being a three-time track champion at the track and trying his hand against those who travel the country racing for a living.
Nowadays, the cost of competing at the top levels makes it harder to write Hollywood scripts like that. And, NASCAR’s top national series no longer compete at most of the historic “short-tracks”. Only their K&N Pro Series East and West divisions do.
That’s why I was excited to hear that John Holleman IV, known more to his family and friends as “John John” and to his fans as “Superman” for the T-shirt he always wears under his firesuit, was going to have the modern version of that opportunity by stepping out of his familiar Bowman Gray Street Stock and Sportsman and stepping up into the Precision Performance Motorsports’ NASCAR K&N Pro Series East car to make his debut in that series on his home turf at “The Stadium” this Saturday night.
John was born and raised with Bowman-Gray blood flowing through his veins. He grew up a fan longing to race there, and finally got his chance when his family bought him a Bandolero car. He’s run there in Legends cars and Street Stocks, practiced there in a Modified and this year moved up to the Sportsman division.
He’s won several races there and felt the roar of the 15,000+ fans who pack this iconic place every Saturday during the summer. On-track heroes and villains emote strong reactions from the crowd all through the night’s racing.
It’s a “show” and an atmosphere like no other, yet the racing is real and the competition is as tough and tough-nosed as it gets.
If it was to be John’s time to take that next step up the proverbial racing ladder, Hollywood would dictate that it be done at The Stadium, a track he knows every inch of. A few of his “motorsports partners” have made it possible for him to live his dream this weekend, and the 17-year-0ld is ready to put on a show.
So it is that Precision Performance Motorsports announced officially this morning that John will race the No. 46 Midway Mobile Storage / SurplusContainers.net Toyota Camry in the K&N Pro Series East NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 race at Bowman Gray Stadium this Saturday May 31st. He’ll also have Mi Casa Restaurante Mexicano, Marshall’s Land and Properties LLC, Zeno Marshall Used Cars, and Midway Town Center along for the ride.
Strong in his faith and confident in his ability, John understands that finishing the race and learning are the keys to future opportunities in the series. That won’t stop him from doing his best to be in the hunt to win, but it will help him focus on the larger picture – the goal of someday being able to climb high enough to be invited back to Bowman-Gray as a winner and champion in one of NASCAR’s big-three series.
I caught up with John last week right after he first announced this special opportunity. The audio that follows first aired on our Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show last Thursday.
All of us at RaceChaser Online wish John wisdom and safety as he takes to the track this Saturday night.