Just bench racing with Holly Clarke

12 years after getting started in racing, Holly has several championships on her resume, and 6 consecutive championships. Her Nova has a 468 and goes 10s in the quarter, certified up to 8.5

https://www.facebook.com/justforrunracing and http://justforfunracing.wordpress.com/ 

Q:  How in the world did you do six years, consecutive?  No missed gaps?
A:  No. 
Q:  Of winning.  How do you pull that off?
A:  It was actually quite a challenge because I started off in juniors, when I was eight, and I believe my first one, I was fourteen . . . no, I was thirteen, so 13, 14, 15, and I had three years in junior’s in a row.  I was Division 6 champion or Mission champion – I think I was both one year, actually.  And then I traded the junior in and went into the ’68 Nova.  And I was racing Pro and High School.  That was quite a challenge my first year, but I ended up finishing off first in High School category.  And then the sixth year, I ended in Pro.  I had first place in the National Open Championship.  So, it was quite a challenge.  I guess I just kind of . . .
Q:  Quit bragging.  How did you do it?  How did you pull that off?
A:  I had a lot of support.  My dad is really huge.  He’s there and he doesn’t let my confidence fall.  If I start getting kind of like, “I can’t do this,” he’s like, “yes, you can.”  So that makes it a lot easier for me.  So that support system is really important. 
Q:  Did you practice like reaction times, video game trees, that kind of thing?
A:  Not so much.
Q:  Or was it just kind of sitting every weekend out there . . .
A:  Yeah, for me when I got the tree, like the reaction times, I got them.  It’s just something that – I always liked the tree – that’s my favorite part:  the launch.  That’s the best part.  I love the feeling of the launch.  I love the lights, and it’s a good challenge.  So that’s kind of how – I just practiced at the track, really. 
Q:  Do you have a local track in your home town?
A:  Yeah, we race at Mission, mostly. 
Q:  You have to fill me in:  What state?  What county?
A:  Mission, B.C. in Canada.  I’m Canadian . . .
Q:  So how many miles from the track?
A:  I actually live five minutes . . .
Q:  Okay, you might have a slight advantage over your competition.
A:  Growing up, I didn’t live so close.  But conveniently when I got older, I moved out and moved closer to the race track.  Now I can hear it in the summertime, with my window open.  (laughs) 
Q:  So you’re not one of those people who complains, “On my god, the cars are too loud.”
A:  No.  I love it.  The first time I realized I could hear it, I said to my boyfriend, “I think I can hear the track.”  He goes, “Holly, you’re crazy.  You’re just thinking about racing.”  But I was like, “No, I can hear the track.”  And a couple of minutes went by, and he’s like, “Hey, wait a second, I just heard it too.”  So I’m like, “Yes!”  It gets me pumped, and I want to get out there.  Or even to watch – I like to watch. 
Q:  ‘68 Nova.  What did you do engine- trans?
A:  It’s a 468, big block.  Gas.
Q:  Okay, is that a 454-30 over?
A:  Yeah.
Q:  Okay.  Crap, thanks dad! 
A:  Yeah, I know.  It kind of freaks . . .
Q:  396?
A:  It had a 350 in it, and then a couple of years ago we had this 468.  And it originally ran on alcohol, so we had some work to do to it. 
Q:  To put it into gas . . .
A:  I wanted it to be alcohol, but my dad doesn’t have too much experience with it.  And we didn’t want to . . . we knew it was already going to be a problem, because the car is older.  And the suspension and the frame, it can’t really handle – we have some work to do this fall. 
Q:  When it was running alcohol – you purchased it that way?
A:  Yeah, we just purchased the engine.  I think he purchased it from someone we knew.
Q:  And what would that be horsepower – 1200, 1300?  I have no idea.
A:  On alcohol?  I’m not sure, because we changed it over.  I run 91.
Q:  What are you getting on gas – horsepower-wise?
A:  I think I’m pushing 700.
Q:  (*&*(#!  Pardon my French.  My car’s got 370 to the tires, and you’re dealing with 700. 
A:  Yeah, I love it so much.
Q:  Thank you, Dad!
A:  Yeah, I know.  That car’s my baby.  He’s funny though.  I wanted to buy it from him, but he won’t sell it to me.  He just lends it to me.  I’m like, “I want to buy it so I can drive it on the street.”  He won’t let me.
Q:  Oh – no no no no.
A:  It wouldn’t be too good in the rain either.  We live in Beastie, where it’s always raining.
Q:  I grew up in Northern Michigan, farther north than you – snow, geez.
A:  Yeah. 
Q:  So what do you need to be street legal?
A:  Well, I’d have to change the tires and a couple little things.  But it’s pretty much there.  It actually hasn’t seen a street yet.  I was supposed to take it out on my grad, actually.  And two weeks before, my engine blew out.  We cracked the block, actually.  Well, somebody else did, but that’s . . .
Q;  Oh.
A:  Yeah, it was a mistake.  But it was pretty sad, because I’d been wanting to take my car to grad since I was eight.  So I was a little heartbroken.
Q:  Couldn’t you take a quick 350 and throw it in there?
A:  We did, but it was a friend of ours, and we didn’t want to push it on the street like that, and take a chance that we’d have to replace another engine, that wasn’t ours. 
Q:  Because of the gears?
A:  Yeah, and it’s really hot.  You have to watch it, because that’s how the block was cracked in the first place.  Somebody didn’t turn the water pump on – we took it to get work done, and they forgot to turn the water pump on. So it overheated.  But that’s okay – it all worked out.  We took the 350 out anyways, in the end, so it worked. 
  1. What gears do you have now.  Five-somethings?  Fours?
  1. To be honest with you, I’d have to check with my dad on that.  I’m still learning.  I wish I knew.
  1. What do you in the quarter?
  1. I go 10:15.  A couple of years ago, I was doing 12, so I’m definitely enjoying going 10. 
  1. In a  68 Nova?!
  1. It’s 160 mph, so it’s like 215 kilometers an hour.  So it’s pretty cool, yeah.
  1. Wow.  A ’68 Nova.  I had a buddy who had a ’70, those are cool cars!
  1. I love all muscle cars, really. 
  1. Serious?  Across the board?
  1. Yeah, I love all cars.  Yeah, that’s my favorite car.  I don’t even like new cars.  I have a Volkswagon, but only for the fuel efficiency
  1. Well, you’ve got to have something to commute with.
  1. Yeah, and nowadays you have to have something fuel efficient.
  1. Absolutely.  So you could pick any car, 20 or 30 years from now, whenever.  Because by then you’ll be able to say, okay I’d like a Viper or ‘Vette or whatever, a Porsche.  Maybe 10 years from now – I have no idea – but what would you then pick?
  1. If I could have any car?  I don’t think my answer has changed my entire life – ’69 Camaro. 
  1. Where’s Mike?  My buddy Mike had ’69 Camaros – he’s wrecked two of them.
  1. He wrecked two of them?
  1. Two Z28 ’69 Camaros.  He’s in his 50’s, but . . .
  1. I’d just like one. 
  1. Yeah, I went how did you wreck two ’69 Camaros?
  1. I’d want them on the street, though.  They’re so gorgeous.  I just don’t think they make cars like they used to.
  1. No, now they make them with airbags at 50 miles per gallon, with stereos.
  1. They’re practical now. 
  1. ’69 Camaro? What RS/SS, Z28 . . .?
  1. I love them all.  I love the body.
  1. You’re not going to be pinned down to one model.
  1. No.  I’m a Camaro person in general.  I pretty much like all the generations.  I don’t really like the ‘90s . . . but I would take one!
  1. On a 69 Camaro, would you go for one with hidden headlights?  Or just the regular headlights?  
  1. I honestly like all of them.  I know a lot about them, but not every detail. I read about them when I can.  I’ve definitely researched them before. And my dad used to have two.  I can’t remember what year he had now – an ’80 and a ’73, I think.  I’m not 100% sure.  I was quite young, but he sold them to buy our juniors.  And now that I’m older, I’m like, I wish I’d lived without a juniors.  I’d just trade that for that Camaro.
  1. I’ve got two websites.  well, more than two, but two of them that are pertinent to this interview.  I don’t do interviews – I take pictures.  But that’s the one that I’ll transcribe most of the interview and stuff.  I’ll send you an email saying, hey here’s pretty much what I could pick from the interview – answers, questions.  Take a look at it.  If I screwed something up – I don’t interview – and it sucks when someone screws up what you said.  It does.  Take a look, reread it, proof it, and toss it back and say, I’m happy with that. 
  1. Okay, that sounds awesome.  Perfect.
  1. Another website that I’ve got, I just call it “Uncle’s Advice,” because my nephew he hit 17, moved out from my sister’s and in with his dad, her ex.  I thought, hey I’ve got some stuff that I would like to tell him – good advice.  So how old are you?  17?  18?  19?
  1. I’m 21. 
  1. What advice would you have for people 16, 17, 18?  Anything really . . .
  1. Just looking at younger people, from me and my friends, get a hobby that you’re really passionate about.  Because growing up, in high school especially, I definitely went out and stuff – but it gave me something to do on the weekends.  Gave me something to keep busy. Because I see a lot of younger crowds – it seems younger and younger each year – doing drugs and partying too much.  And I think they’re just bored a lot of the times.  They just haven’t fit in.  They don’t have something to make them feel like they’ve accomplished.  Racing gives you a high.  And most people crave that adrenaline or the high – winning something.  It gives you an adrenaline rush.  So I think I would just say, find something you’re passionate about.   Try a different ????. Don’t be afraid to go to the track.  Go talk to people and ask them.  I’ve taken people for rides before.  My dad’s really into starting people in juniors.  He loves it.  He drove before I was born.  And then when I was born, even before I was 8, when I started being interested, he decided that he enjoyed helping people learn.  He was really involved with the high school and helping them race.  He lent them the cars.  Yeah, even when I was in juniors, if we had an extra junior there – someone wasn’t racing – he’s get other people’s kids in there and try to get them involved.  So I watched that growing up.  I just think it’s so important to go out there and put yourself out there and find something that you care this much about. 
  1. With you on that.  So 21.  Six years in a row – I don’t know which six years – I haven’t read your bio.  Is it like last year and this year?
  1. No, this year I had a lot of problems. 
  1. It happens.
  1. Well, we put the 468 in at the end of last year.  Or is this my first year? I can’t remember.  This is my 13th season.  So I get a little jumbled which year was which.  We put the 468 in, and the suspension just can’t handle it.  We need to put ladder bars in it, so it can handle all that force.
  1. You twisting at the back?
  1. Yeah, every time I come back, and my car would be sitting like this. And I was hitting the wall.  Yeah, they made me stop.  I was like, hey we fixed it, and I’m going to go back out there.  And they were like, Sorry Miss Clark, but we can’t let you back out there because it’s too dangerous.  I said, we fixed it though!  They’re like, no sorry, not today – there’s no way you fix that in 30 minutes.  So I dealt with that.  I think it was 2006 to 2012.
  1. Wow.  You’re still doing it? . . . Of course you are!  You wouldn’t still be doing interviews if you weren’t still in it.
  1. Yeah, I am.  I’m still doing it.  I’m trying to move up and . . .
  1. And for this next year, the same thing? 
  1. The same car.  And we’re going to do some work on the car, so I’m not struggling half the year trying to keep my car straight.  And also, I can focus more on getting on the track.  Because I just want to make it out there without hurting the car.  This year I can focus on points and doing different races, and focus more on winning and accomplishing and doing more events.  So I’m looking forward to that a lot. 
  1. Where do you go for your race level – sorry, I’m not conversant in East Coast stuff – I’m a Southern California guy.  But I did race in Maryland – Mason Dixon Drag Way  Where are your race tracks that you go to?
  1. I do Mission Raceway, and then Ashcroft Raceway I’ve gone to a lot.
  1. Where is that?
  1. That’s 2 hours north.  Then we go all the way to Medicinehead, Alberta, which is about a 16 to 18 trip.  And then I’ve gone . . . we were supposed to go to Montana, but I got stuck at work, so we couldn’t.  But next year, we’ll probably be in Montana.  And then, where else?  Oregon, like Bremerton.  I’ve raced the Pacific in Seattle.
  1. No kidding?  Wow!
  1. Yeah, I like Pacific.  It’s really a good race track.  Then I’ve actually gone to Idaho before, but that was quite a few years ago now.  Then we were supposed to be in Las Vegas last weekend, but again work got in the way.  We couldn’t take the time – because we have to drive the cars down, so it’s a few days.  It was like an extra week.  I was going to be down here for like 14 days.  So we decided not to, but maybe next year.  It’s definitely a goal, just to get the cars down here.  Especially one of my goals.
  1. Checking off the list of tracks? Like, here’s the tracks I’ve been to?
  1. I love racing as many tracks as I can.  Mission is probably – the track itself – is my favorite.  I guess it’s my home, kind of.
  1. Well, when it’s in your back yard.  5 minutes away?
  1. Yeah.  But even the way it’s set up, I really enjoy the stands and the track.  It’s like racing on the track is really good. 
  1. So your range is Pacific Northwest and just South of that?
  1. Yeah, the West Coast mostly.
  1. Would you hit, in one season, more than 4 or 5 tracks?
  1. Yeah, typically that’s actually about how many we hit. 
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Just bench racing with Holly Clarke
Just bench racing with Holly Clarke
Reviewed by pada mama
Published :
Rating : 4.5