Column By: JIM CLARKE – BROCKVILLE, ONT – Whether they’re watching family and friends from the top row of the grandstand at the hometown speedway or spending an afternoon on the couch while the sport’s biggest stars perform on TV, racing’s next generation of talent is never far from the spotlight.
After getting started at the age of 4 and chasing more than 20 karting checkered flags and multiple class championships – including 2018 and 2019 Jr. Restricted titles at Brighton Speedway – Holly Denard has made the jump to the Rookie Sportsman division at Brockville Ontario Speedway. The 13-year-old second generation racer from Prince Edward County says she is excited about latest move in her career.
“We’d talked about making a change at the end of last season but hadn’t decided on a new direction. The Troyer car we’re running this year will be a big step, but I think it’ll be fun,” said the young racer. “There was no way to know how COVID-19 would impact our season. While I haven’t been able to do as much racing as I’d like, we’ve been doing a lot of testing. I’ve been able to learn more about the car and experience some different track conditions without the pressures that a first-year racer might usually go through.”
Using her father’s background as a drawing board, its easy for the young driver to understand the value of gaining seat time. Through his career, Wes Denard campaigned Street Stock, Canadian Modified and Late Model rides at Brighton Speedway and a DIRTcar Sportsman-Modified at Brockville. Wes now serves as crew chief on his daughter’s Rookie Sportsman, a car that carries No. 02, the same number he used as a driver. Behind the scenes, Mom Janie and family friends Eugene Bailey and Brennan Moore help get the car ready for action.
“I’ve met some great people and made many life-long friends through racing,” Holly Denard said. “My long term goal is to be able to race for a living; either in a Small Block Modified or Sprint Car. I know it’ll take a lot of hard work to get there but I’ve always said that racing isn’t all about the money or the fanciest cars. Its about who is the most passionate and wants it more than anyone else.”
Turning laps in some new racing equipment is the only big step Holly Denard will experience in 2020. In September she’ll begin grade 9 at PECI in Picton as a student in the university preparatory Venture Enrichment Program. With the provincial education system facing some uncertain times, Denard says she’s hoping to return to classroom learning in the fall.
“Online education can be challenging, but I’m as determined in my studies as I am on the racetrack. I’ll wait and see what the school year has in store and face any obstacles head-on.”