The first time I ever met John John, I was immediately struck by not only his very respectful manners but his ability to talk to you like an adult. And at the time he wasn’t quite 14 yet! Yes you heard me right, John John – now 15, was only turning 14 last year when I met him for the first time just prior to the opening of the MADHOUSE (aka Bowman Gray Stadium). We’ll come back to Bowman Gray later. First a little bit of background; John John began racing Bandolero’s in 2007 when he was just 9 and 10yrs old! Bandolero’
The first time I remember watching John John race in person was on a Friday Night in August just a few years ago. Fast forward a few years to 2011 when NASCAR made it possible for John John to make his NASCAR sanctioned debut by lowering the age to 14 for their weekly sanctioned race tracks. John John’s accomplishments in his first year racing a full body stock car at the MADHOUSE are pretty amazing, not only did he become the youngest driver to ever compete at the Famed ¼ mile he became Track Rookie of the Year, Street Stock Rookie of the Year and 3rd in Points for Street Stock. Very impressive considering the races in his division are all ‘draw’ races, meaning all drivers draw for their spots. Add to that a 3rd in National Bandolero Points despite not running a full schedule, 4th in Legends Division at Concord Speedway along with his already stellar resume: 2010 World & National Bandolero Champion, Most wins in Bandolero History (121), and Top Gun Winner for 2007, 2009, and 2010 at Concord Speedway.
Many of the young racers that John John used to beat on a regular basis in Bandolero’s have moved on to bigger things unfortunately John John’s parents are not millionaires like most those other kids and like many of us they too have struggled to make ends meet the last few years with the down turn in the economy, much less trying to keep John John racing. The entire family works the family business, A Cleaner Carolina – a corporate and residential cleaning service. Almost every spare dollar goes to keeping John John racing. For that reason, the Holleman family decided to return to the MADHOUSE for one more year in 2012 where John John has his sights set on the Street Stock Championship and his first stock car win. In the first 2 races of the year, John John finished 2nd both times coming from near the end of the field in only 20 laps, and for the Street Stock 50 lapper he qualified on the outside pole. Now add another title to his stellar resume, Youngest Winner in a divisional race at Legendary Bowman Gray Stadium. Just this weekend on racing’s biggest weekend of the year, Memorial Weekend, John John drew the pole and led 20 laps with one of the toughest drivers at the stadium right behind him, Billy Gregg. Both drivers raced each other clean and despite several restarts from cautions and several taps from behind by Billy, John John held on to win his first ever stock car race and continues to put his name in the history book. To top it off, it was also double points night and the win moves him from 5th to 3rd in the points so that championship year could definitely be in the works. Of winning on such a historic weekend John John said “It was great to win on Memorial Day weekend as we remember our troops, and to get that first win at the 'Madhouse' was awesome! To get that first win under my belt and get my name in the history books, WOW.”
While John John continues to show what a true wheel man he is week in and week out, this year could be the year that he catches the eye of a major sponsor who wants to grow their brand as he continues to race his way up the racing ranks. Along with his racing skills he is also active in his church youth group and mentors other young Bandolero racers, which truly show what kind of character he is made of. As his career progresses he looks forward to helping pay it forward by helping the JDRF because his brother is diabetic. All of that on top of being a tremendous wheel man makes John John a sponsors dream, don’t you think? I personally imagine watching John “John John” “Superman”
If you are interested in contacting John John feel free to hit them up on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/
(Photo’s by Eric Hylton Photography – Official Photographer of Bowman Gray Stadium)
** This article will appear in the June/July issue of the Foothills Times Magazine **