Roger Holder is driven.
Driven to be the best he can in whatever he does. From running his family-owned business (Holder’s Heating and Air), to being a good family man (trips to Disneyland), to winning on a variety of race tracks.
“Business always comes first, but I’m a work hard, play harder type-of-guy,” Holder said.
What makes Holder unique among a big group of people who have the “work hard, play hard” mantra is that he plays hard in a variety of racing disciplines.
Drag racing: Check.
Dirt track racing: Check.
Pavement short-track racing: Check.
Yep. Holder, 43, is a bit on the competitive side.
He’s drag raced most of his life and recently upgraded to a Pro Mod, winning his first race with a best run of 5.73 seconds at 264 miles per hour in the quarter mile.
He started dirt racing in the IMCA Modified division in 2010 and has won races.
And then he decided to go to asphalt racing. All he did there was win the Super Stock championship at Kern County Raceway Park as a rookie last year.
“I’m going to blame it on my dad (Jerry),” Holder said with a chuckle of his competitive nature. “He always had me in something, BMX racing, football. And as a kid I grew up watching him drag race.”
A lot of that racing was on the street, not the strip.
“My dad took me to street races before I was old enough to drive,” he said. “When I was 16 I started street racing and I’ve been racing ever since.”
The street racing was fun for a while, but eventually Holder and his ’67 Chevelle ended up at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Holder raced both street and strip for a while before eventually leaving the street scene for good.
“The cars were going too fast (his Chevelle clocked 10.70 in the quarter mile), the street racing became more of a party than a race and if you got caught (the police) would impound your car,” he said.
Wanting to limit wear and tear on his Chevelle, Holder got a 2000 Camaro and got heavy into small-tire drag racing for several years.
“I held the world record for a while (6.13 seconds at 245.54 mph, set in Las Vegas in 2014) but that was getting fast for a 10-inch drag radial tire,” he said.
The Pro Mod in an entirely different beast (525 cubic inches with twin turbos).
“This one is meant to go fast,” he said. “It’s stable and aerodynamic.”
As for the IMCA Modified dirt racing, it was supposed to replace the drag racing.
“All it did was create another habit,” Holder said. “From the stands it looked easy. Then you get in one and it’s a lot harder than it looks, for sure.”
Generally, one does not start racing in an upper divisions such as Mods.
“It was probably a full season before I was even really competitive,” Holder said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I’ve got the hang of it now.”
Holder adapted quickly to asphalt racing, which was supposed to replace dirt track racing.
“I thought I’d get an asphalt car and get out of dirt racing and all I’ve done is create another habit,” he said.
Holder ran a few Super Stock races in 2016 to get his feet wet and went on to win five races en route to the track title in 2017.
“You have to be more precise,” Holder said of the difference from racing on dirt. “Your set up on the car has to be spot on. You have to hit your marks and be spot on.
“Dirt racing is a little more forgiving. The driver can make up a little for some of the things the car’s not giving.”
Holder also said dirt racing is the most time consuming due to close contact and bumping and banging.
“It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work because you’re always getting your car beat up and then have to beat the body panels out to keep them looking nice,” he said.
His racing stable consists of three asphalt cars (his son Brylon drive one), his Modified, a Sports Mod for Brylon and his drag car.
“It’s hard to say,” Holder replied when asked if he had to choose between three racing opportunities on one weekend. “Probably drag racing, that’s what I truly love. But it would depend on the weather and how big the race was.”
If the racing isn’t enough, Holder does like to head to a lake now and then for some skiing. And then there is mountain biking in his spare time as he has worked on his fitness and dropped 50 pounds.
“I’m addicted to food so it’s real hard for me,” Holder said of his desire to lose weight. “I’ve gained some back, but I feel much, much better. Probably the hardest thing ever done is try to lose weight and stay healthy.”
And about that addiction to racing?
“I just have a need for speed,” he said.