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Youth Movement—Del Holbrook grew up in a racing family and quickly made the jump to NMRA JDM Engineering Limited Street

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written by Steve Turner
Photography by Kevin DiOssi

A modern Mustang pulls into the water box. The driver builds brake pressure and activates the line lock. A signal from the crew chief says it’s all clear to rev the Coyote engine beyond 7,500 and release the line lock just as the tires begin smoking. A flick of a switch engages the nitrous system and a quick check ensures the bottle pressure is locked at 950 psi. With the car staged and the transbrake engaged, the driver reacts when the tree drops and holds on for a single-digit ride. After he passes the stripe, he pulls the ’chute and coasts to the return road. Runs like this are commonplace in the NMRA and NMCA ranks, but the driver isn’t always a teenager.
Those who have been in the enthusiast game for a while often fret about whether the love for car culture is fading with younger generations. While that may be true for some younger people, those who grew up around the smell of high-octane fuel and smoking tires can’t help but earn an appreciation for fast machines.

Del Holbrook, who recently took to racing in NMRA’s JDM Engineering Limited Street category, was immersed in car culture from the jump, growing up in a household where his dad, Chris Holbrook, not only runs Holbrook Racing Engines, but enjoys competing in drag racing, including the NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street class. 
“Growing up in a high-performance family was pretty amazing as I was always on the road during the racing season, always involved in the racing world, and of course, always attached to the Holbrook name and legacy,” Holbrook recalled. “…I have some slight memories of my father racing and crew-chiefing in the mountain-motor Pro Stock series in IHRA when I was little to always being at my local track, Milan Dragway, for their Friday heads-up series to the very beginning of the Factory Stock Showdown series in NHRA.”
As you might imagine, growing up in that environment made a huge impact. Witnessing engine builds and race cars in action are bound to make an impression on anyone, but for the youngest Holbrook in the clan, it permeated his existence from his formative years playing with toys to his eventual career aspirations. 
“I’ve always loved cars since I was little. From playing with hot wheels to playing with race cars,” Holbrook said. “…I’ve always wanted to be a racer since I was a kid due to watching and helping my father and just being around and watching other racers while always being in the racing atmosphere.”

With the family closely associated with Blue Oval performance machines, it is also not a surprise that he gravitated toward the original pony car. The idea of galloping down the track in a Mustang took top billing, but that didn’t mean he would shun other machines. 
“Mustangs have always been my favorite, especially due to growing up in a Ford family, but my love for cars doesn’t stop at just the Ford name or brand as my love lies in many types of cars from domestic to import,” Holbrook explained.
It wasn’t just a love for cars, though, as his father, Chris, was a huge influence when it came to racing as well. Though his dad was always nervous about his children competing, he always emphasized using the proper safety equipment and taking solace in them being as safe as possible. His son began in a slow ride, but he took to the racing game in a hurry.
“My first pass down the race track was three years ago when I was 16 years old,” Holbrook recalled. “I was at Milan Dragway’s High School Nationals and ended up winning it in my parents’ 2016 Ford Escape.”

It took a couple of years before the younger Holbrook strapped into his race car, which is the gorgeous 2016 Mustang GT sprayed in Porsche Jet Metallic Green. 
“My first ever race car is actually the car I’m racing now. I’m coming up on a year of racing this car. The first race I went to with this car was NMRA/NMCA’s last year’s race at US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan,” Holbrook said. “We have been building the car for three years now. Last year I was racing naturally aspirated in Open Comp, but the car has come a long way since then.”
Holbrook got his NMRA start, as many do, in the TorqStorm Superchargers True Street class, where the emphasis is on consistency in elapsed times, not cutting a light or running the quickest time. 
“I decided to move to NMRA’s series a year to two years ago when I started racing the True Street in my own daily Focus ST, my father’s supercharged F-150, and other racers’ hotel cars and cars they traveled to the track in,” he added. “I also drove Lloyd Mikeska’s 2008 Mustang where I won 12.00 True Street class in St. Louis. Also, always being at the track when my father raced the Factory Super Car series to the Xtreme Street/Renegade class, influenced my decision on choosing the NMRA series.”
Last season, Holbrook moved into the ultra-competitive ARP Open Comp class and gained more experience behind the wheel of his Mustang. 
“It was a big jump, but it went very well, and I loved it,” Holbrook said. “I raced some more races after that to get seat time, sort things out and tune the car and chassis, and I was averaging 9.50s. By the end of the year, I went as quick as 9.30 and as far as the third round of eliminations, and I felt good about that considering how big of a change it was.”

Holbrook was ready to run quicker in a heads-up category. Fortunately, he had the foresight to plan with proper training.
“I knew it was time to advance in racing categories over the winter due to my completion of Frank Holley driving school and also feeling comfortable in the car and deciding to move forward with it,” Holbrook said. “I decided to get into the Limited Street category. I knew it was going to be a pretty big jump, but I believed I was ready for it.”
If anyone was born ready, it would be Del Holbrook. With some experience under his belt, he was ready to run faster in a heads-up category. He not only had the foresight to learn behind the wheel, but Holbrook made certain that his Mustang was prepped for faster action as well.
“My idea behind my 2016 Mustang build is that the car is something I can grow into with the 6.50-cert cage, which has been proven true from starting in my naturally aspirated Coyote combo and going 9.30s last year to going 8.11 at 168 this year with my nitrous-fed Coyote combo from this year,” Holbrook explained. “Who knows what the future might hold for this car?”

Whatever might be on the road ahead, this car is ready for action with a Holbrook Racing Engines Coyote powerplant under the hood. Based on a Bear Block Motors cast-aluminum block, this 314-cube engine percolates with 11:1 compression courtesy of Diamond Racing forged pistons swinging on BME Aluminum rods spinning on a factory crankshaft. Topped by Shelby GT350 cylinder heads CNC ported by Frankenstein Engine Dynamics and fitted with Ferrea stainless valves, PAC beehive valve springs, and HRE custom-ground COMP Cams, the engine inhales 325-horsepower worth of NOS dry nitrous via a Frankenstein FreakShow Billet intake manifold. 
“I was involved with the planning and execution of the engine combo by helping as much as I could with engine machining, engine assembly, engine, and combo planning, and also planning for the difficulties ahead with the brand new and unique combination,” Holbrook said. “…My father and I decided on the nitrous combo after going through Limited Street rules and deciding it will be a new and very unique combo with power potential.”

Mated to a TH400 automatic trans prepped by Sean’s Transmission Service and fitted with a Neal Chance billet bolt-together torque converter, it sends that vaunted Holbrook power through a Driveshaft PST carbon fiber driveshaft to a 9.5-inch Ford rearend filled with 5.14 gears, and Strange 40-spline He controls the transfer of power with an M&M shifter.
“My goal as a Limited Street competitor is to try my hardest to win like many of the other competitors are doing as well. I’m also out to give my competitors a challenge and show what this 19-year-old can do,” Holbrook said. “Who knows what my future holds or my car’s future holds at the moment, I just hope whatever it is the other competitors are ready for me. What’s cool about the car is it has a 6.50-cert cage, which allows me to grow into and change into faster classes if need be.”
Running low-eights and nipping at the heels of the Limited Street class front-runners, Holbrook is off to a great start in the highly competitive start. However, the automotive world isn’t just a hobby for him. In addition to building his racing repertoire, he also set out early on to build a career in the industry as well. 
“I am also a CNC machinist at Bohr Racing products where we specialize and design titanium bellhousings, carbon injector hats, carbon MVM wheelie bars, and many other parts that range from transmission parts to blower parts and wheelie-bar parts to fuel injection parts, and many other parts on cars that can vary from Pro Mods to Top Fuel dragsters to No Prep King cars, to many of other cars across the globe. I just got my Associate in Applied Sciences from Oakland Community College through an early college program through my high school. I studied CNC machining and CNC programming while also dipping into welding. I have also taken up car photography for the last few years and I’m trying to make a name for myself in the photography world of cars as well as the drag racing world.”
So, look out world, there is a one-man youth movement making parts, racing cars, and shooting photos. If this is any indication, the future is bright for automotive enthusiasts.

The Details

Owner: Del Holbrook
Driver: Del Holbrook
Hometown: Redford, Michigan
Occupation: CNC Machinist
Crew: Chris Holbrook
Engine: Ford Coyote 5.0-liter
Engine Builder: Holbrook Racing Engines
Displacement: 314 cubic inches
Block: Bear Motors cast aluminum
Bore: 3.700 inches
Stroke: 3.650 inches
Crank: Factory steel 
Rods: BME Aluminum
Pistons: Diamond Racing
Heads: Frankenstein CNC-ported Shelby GT350
Valvetrain: Ferrea stainless valves and PAC beehive valve springs
Cam Type: HRE custom-ground COMP Cams w/ .600-inch lift
Carb or EFI: BigStuff3 Gen4 and wiring by Tom Frayer of High Voltage 
Transmission: Sean’s Transmission Service C4 Automatic w/ Neal Chance billet bolt-together torque converter and PST carbon-fiber driveshaft
Chassis Builder: Ford w/ Mad Fab 6.50-certified roll cage and additional fab work by Zach Prysdale of Holbrook Racing Engines 
Suspension: Mencser shocks, Mencser springs, and Lamb caster/camber plates,
Brakes: Lamb
Wheels: Weld Racing
Tires: Hoosier
Quickest ET: 8.11 seconds
Fastest MPH: 168.38
Best 60-Foot: 1.18 seconds

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