Bret Holmes, Alpha Iota Chapter, prepares for Talladega Superspeedway

Trophies are scattered about the bedroom, tucked away there rather than for an ego-trip display in the main living room.

It doesn’t look like the stereotypical living quarters for a male freshman at Auburn University.

Then again, this isn’t a typical freshman.

Bret Holmes has a number of concerns this week.

There are calculus, public speaking, English composition II and world history II.

And there is Talladega Superspeedway, where he’ll make his own little history.

Holmes, 18, will race in Friday’s General Tire 200 ARCA race, his superspeedway debut. He’ll be driving the blue-and-yellow No. 23 Chevrolet of Grant Enfinger Racing, for which he finished fifth April 9 in his maiden ARCA race at the half-mile Nashville Fairgrounds oval.

Racing is clearly Holmes’ future and his goal is to compete at the highest level.

But his present includes not only racing, but the life of a college freshman and fraternity member of the Alpha Iota Chapter (Auburn) of Pi Kappa Phi. He strives for a sense of normalcy in a most abnormal situation, but can’t always make it work.

“I see how much he actually misses on,” said his roommate, Dalten Martin, a friend for more than a decade and a former Donoho classmate. “He misses the big events and the football games. I see him coming in at 2 o’clock in the morning from racing or working on the car and having to study and stay awake until 4 or 5, keeping up his workload.”

“It’s hard to balance both school and racing,” Holmes said. He joined the fraternity to “keep some sort of social perspective in my life” and he’s arranged his class schedule for Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving him weekends to race.

Most of his professors know about his career, but as Holmes said, “Racing isn’t a university (absence) excuse. I have to let them know what I’m doing.”

The juggling isn’t anything new for Bret, or for his family. Think your family gets stretched? While Bret was setting the Nashville ARCA track qualifying record (alas, it was bettered 25 minutes later) with dad Stacy watching from the pits, mom Lisa was back at home, getting sister Haley ready for the prom.

That makes it a 1-1 tie between the siblings for prom-going. Bret skipped his first two proms because there was a race that weekend.

When Bret was at Donoho, he didn’t merely juggle racing and classes. He played football until his sophomore year, was on the basketball team and pitched Donoho into the state playoffs last spring.

“In baseball, he was one of our best pitchers,” Martin said. “He never let anything get to his head. He was one of the best hitters. In football, he was one of the fastest kids, so we just handed the ball off to him.

“His work ethic made it where he would be good in sports,” Martin continued. “He’s constantly working out. Every night he’ll go out and run 2 to 10 miles. His work ethic is not equivalent to anyone else’s.”

That same phrase — work ethic — is the first thing noted by James Hutchins, the head of school at Donoho.

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