NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR crew chief having success as angler

Harold Holly turns a mean wrench.

Holly, 41, is rated among the most able and liked crew chiefs in NASCAR.

This season, he is leading the Nationwide Series team of driver Stephen Wallace, son of 1989 Winston Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace.

Rusty owns the Mooresville-based operation.

Holly, who lives in Sherrills Ford in Lincoln County, also is quite adept at turning the handle on a fishing reel.

He has been an avid angler since boyhood, when he grew up in Pell City, Ala., located on the shore of massive Logan Martin Lake.

“I fished about every day during summers when I was a kid,” Holly said this week. “And after school started I'd get home, drop off my books, grab my tackle and walk the mile or so from our house to the lake and fish 'til dark. Mainly, I tried to catch largemouth bass, but I enjoyed getting crappie, too.”

Holly got into racing by working as a volunteer on a car driven by his youth league football coach at the Talladega Short Track in Alabama. That's a rather rustic dirt layout only a mile or so from NASCAR's big, ultra-fast Talladega Superspeedway.

“My first paying job in racing was as a crewman in 1987 with the team of Mickey Gibbs, another ol' boy from Alabama,” Holly said.

Spanning the 1999-01 seasons, Holly posted one of the best crew-chief marks ever in what was then known as the Busch Grand National Series, working with driver Jeff Green.

The two combined for 13 victories, 14 poles, 56 top-five finishes and 72 top-ten showings. They won the series' 2000 championship by a whopping 616 points, then a record.

Holly's cars were so well prepared during the title-winning tour that Green scored 25 top fives in 32 starts, a NASCAR record.

Holly hopes to add some fishing records to his resume as well.

Last week he caught one of the best striped bass reported this year from the Catawba River chain of lakes. Fishing with close friend and Mooresville-based guide David Clubb near the Lake Rhodhiss Dam, Holly boated a 22-pounder.

That's far from his biggest striper.

Fishing with Clubb and some other pals in 2006 on the Cumberland River in Tennessee, Holly outfought a massive striper weighing 40 pounds.

Among his other favorite catches is a 7-pound spotted bass, which he caught in Alabama.

How ardent is Holly about his angling?

Last fall his team raced at Las Vegas on a Saturday.

Holly flew through the night in order to get back to Lake Norman so that he could compete in a Norman Fishery Alliance striper tournament on Sunday.

“My wife, Pam, met me at the airport and drove me to the lake,” Holly recalled. “I had made arrangements for my fishing partner in the tournaments, Tom Pallatin of Iredell County, to meet me with his boat at the Perth Road Bridge.

“I got up on the bridge railing and jumped off into Tom's boat.”

Holly chuckled.

“Dang, that bridge is a lot higher than I thought it was.”

Holly's leap turned out to be worth the risk. He won the tournament that day.