Last Sunday, it was Mopar Day at Mason-Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown. Rick Holland of Westminster was one of many Carroll County drivers who competes in a Chrysler product.
Chrysler products, especially the Plymouth and Dodge muscle cars of the 1960s and '70s, have gained respect in recent years as quality performance automobiles.
Holland has raced Mopar products since he started racing at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia 10 years ago. He started with a 1971 Plymouth Satellite. Now he competes in a 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner.
Sunday, racing against all Mopar opponents, he had advanced to the third round when rain washed out the rest of the program.
"I was going great," said Holland. "There were 19 cars left. I felt good."
Holland always enjoyed racing. As a teen-ager, he built a go-kart out of lawn-mower parts. He had to give that up when he was caught riding it on the street.
When he turned 16, he purchased the Satellite. After much-needed work on the car, he wanted to see what it could do. He's been drag racing since.
Holland started in the trophy class at 75-80, then moved into Class II. Later he purchased the Roadrunner and installed a 440-cubic-inch motor in it. Continued improvements over time resulted in higher speeds. It wasn't long before Holland was having trouble keeping the car slow enough for Class II competition.
Last year, he installed a roll bar and moved into Class I competition, which is for cars that can do a quarter-mile under 11.99 seconds. He has not regretted the switch.
"I love racing Class I," said Holland. "I like the people I am racing against. Most of all I enjoy racing against $50,000 cars and beating them. It is a good feeling."
Cost is one of the factors that attracted Holland to Mopar products.
"It doesn't take much money to make a 440-cubic-inch motor to go fast," said Holland. "The parts are all performance proven and durable. They just give you the most horsepower for your money."
Because of his job, Holland does not run for points. He gets to the track at least once a weekend and enjoys knocking off someone who is high in points.
"I used to get nervous when I raced someone that was good," said the 28-year-old. "But now I don't let it worry me. My car is consistent, so I just concentrate on running, I don't look at the person beside me."
During the week, Holland works as a service technician for Leeland Mechanical Corporation of Mount Airy. Leeland is also his sponsor on the plum purple car.
His girlfriend, Kim Duvall, helps him at the races and is learning to take care of details between races so Holland can concentrate on racing.
Holland keeps fine-tuning his car to go faster and faster.
"I wish the quarter-mile was longer. I like to just keep on going down the track," said Holland. "To feel the G-force and the speed, it is so much fun."
Holland is building another car for racing, a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. As with the previous two cars, he is doing all the work.
"It takes a lot of time, but working on the car relaxes me," said Holland. "I save a lot of money doing it myself. It is a budget car, but I am doing it right."
The new car will be powered by a 500-horsepower, 440-cubic-inch motor like his current car. But he expects the car to do the quarter-mile in the low 10-second range. His current car, which weighs 3,900 pounds, is a consistent 11.45 performer.