Microsprint car driver Tanner Holm seems to rapidly make a name for himself at any class or track he goes to.
The 15-year-old already has three Rookie of the Year awards under his belt — two in quarter midget classes and one in the 600 Restricted at Deming Speedway.
So it comes as no surprise that the youngest driver in the 600 open class has kept up with the big boys during his first year in one of the premier classes at Deming.
Holm, who goes to Monroe High School, currently sits fifth in the points standings and already with one main-event win this season, which came in exciting fashion on June 5 as Holm held off top drivers Joe Constance and Liam Ryan.
“It’s going great so far. I’ve been learning a lot from everybody,” Holm said in a phone interview. “It’s a new experience, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Rookie of the Year is Holm’s goal again — he’s been racing for nine years with three newcomer accolades already — and a Clay Cup win would help his case immensely.
Clay Cup Nationals is Deming Speedway’s premier event, attracting some of the biggest names in the microsprint car world. The three-day event begins Thursday, July 16, and ends Saturday, July 18, as drivers will accumulate points over the first two days to determine Saturday night’s starting order.
Cory Eliason (600), Ryan (1,200) and Eli Schmidt (600 Restricted) will all be defending their titles from last year while Holm will be looking to add his name to the list of storied Clay Cup winners.
“My goal is just to get top five in the feature main on the last night,” Holm said. “It’s just a pretty big event. People race harder with it just having the presence of a national event. ... It’s going to be a lot harder and I just want to see how good I can do.”
He’ll take with him into race day a foundation of knowledge he’s gained from fellow drivers.
“Chance Crum mentors me a lot, tells me what to do, what he’s seeing me do,” Holm said. “Everybody is helping everyone out.”
And Holm certainly welcomed the help as he got used to the finesse of the 600 open car compared to the restricted. With the lower horsepower, drivers can hammer the throttle on a restricted car. That’s not the case for the open car.
“You can easily spin out a lot faster coming out of corners,” Holm said. “In the open when you hammer the throttle, you go way slower. It’s just a learning curve.”
Holm certainly has figured it out well enough to compete with the top names in racing, and it would come as no surprise to see his name among the leaders at Clay Cup.
“To win a night at Clay Cup, it would be a really epic night,” Holm said. “I wouldn’t really know what to do. I’d be really excited.”
Holm admits he makes mistakes frequently, but it’s all a learning process on the way to his goal of eventually racing alongside NASCAR Sprint Cup six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in a NASCAR event.
Johnson has been Holm’s idol since the Monroe-native was 3 years old, and Holm is looking to carve some of the same success.
Despite the difference between stock cars and sprint cars, many of which revolve around the difference between asphalt and dirt, Holm tries to take a little Johnson with him into his own racing.
“A little conservative at the beginning and agressive and hard at the end,” Holm said.
While Holm has a long way to go to rival the success of Johnson, he can match one of Johnson’s accomplishments this season. In all the years of racing for Johnson, he has four rookie awards.
Holm could have four by age 15.
Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clay Cup Nationals
Thursday, July 16-Saturday, July 18
Time: Racing starts at 7 p.m.; Gates open at 5 p.m.
Where: Deming Speedway
Cost: Adult $14-17, Juniors/Seniors $12-14; Children $5-7