Hollan to race for Keith Kunz Motorsports
COLUMBUS, Ind. – Seventeen-year-old Holley Hollan will join Keith Kunz Motorsports next season and embark on her first full year of national midget racing.
Hollan will take over KKM’s No. 67k entry, which was previously piloted by fellow female competitor Holly Shelton. Plans call for the teenager to run the full NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series schedule, with an assortment of POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League races built in around that.
The Broken Arrow, Okla., native will begin her tenure with the team at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Jan. 14-19 in nearby Tulsa. Team owner Keith Kunz told SPEED SPORT that Hollan could run as many as 80 races with KKM next season, as his organization embarks on its most ambitious schedule to date.
“We’re really proud of what we were able to accomplish with Holly Shelton, but with that said, we’re equally excited to welcome Holley Hollan to our team for next season,” said Kunz. “Seeing her run earlier this year, drive some different cars than she’s been used to … and now to be a part of her next step and helping her to develop as a racer is something we’re really looking forward to.”
“This is always something I’ve wanted, but it’s a goal that I set for myself legitimately about a year ago,” noted Hollan. “For it to be happening still feels unreal, but I’m really looking forward to this step in my career and I feel like I’m prepared for the challenge.”
Hollan is hoping that she can make her way in racing similar to that of another Toyota Racing Development product who hails from her home state: NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Christopher Bell.
“I’ve always watched Christopher – he’s from the same area in Oklahoma that I am – but I never really understood what the Toyota Racing Development program was doing for its drivers until about a year ago,” said Hollan. “Once I saw everything that they did with Christopher to advance his career, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of … and the same with how they helped Holly Shelton grow.
“Running the (TRD) Combine over the summer and seeing how all of that worked really opened my eyes to just how much Toyota puts into their drivers and trying to give back to the sport,” Hollan continued. “I can’t wait to get started and I’m extremely grateful to everyone for believing in what I can do and giving me a chance to race on a national stage like this.”
Hollan got the chance to compete for Keith Kunz Motorsports during USAC’s Mid-America Midget Week in July. While she only made one feature appearance at Kansas’ Solomon Valley Raceway, she believes that experience of working with the team will aid her in getting up to speed quickly.
“It’s hard to completely figure out any team in five races, but it definitely got my feet wet and got me used to the atmosphere over there,” said Hollan. “I also stayed for a day mid-week and worked with the team in the shop, which I think helped a lot as well. Being able to be with a team like this for 60-plus races … you can’t get any better than that.”
“She got up to speed really quick during our Kansas tour with USAC,” Kunz added. “She was so close to getting where we felt like she needed to be and on the cusp of finding what she needed with the car, but she did a really good job for us in the races she ran. I was instantly pleased with her; it’s just a matter of getting her some seat time now and getting her comfortable. That’s what it takes, really.”
Hollan said that while she doesn’t feel extra pressure stepping into the same car that her predecessor set multiple USAC records in for the female contingent – she does see those marks as motivation and is eager to begin writing her own legacy in the sport.
“Holly definitely set the bar high. She’s very talented and did a great job during her time at KKM,” noted Hollan. “There’s definitely pressure for a female driver to win a national midget race right now, but my biggest focus is to set attainable goals for next year and not to worry about necessarily winning right off the bat. Consistently running inside the top 10, and then the top five, is my goal starting out.
“It’s honestly unbelievable, though, to think about being in this position,” she added. “It still feels unreal and it’s something I never thought I would be able to do at my age. It’s one thing to get here, but it’s another to be successful at this level and I realize that I have a lot of work to put in still. This is the first step, though, and I can’t wait to get going next month in front of my home fans.”