Woman mechanic big part of rallycross team’s success

Episode 225

August 12, 2018

While in Vermont visiting my kids and grandchildren, I met with Garrett Holler of Holler Customs in Ferrisburg. The last time I wrote about Garrett he was working at Restoration Performance Motorcars (RPM)  in Vergennes as a painter/fabricator. He was working on a 1939 Alpha Romeo race car.

Not only did I get to see his newly rented shop, two of the American Rally Cross (ARX2) from DirtFish Racing had just arrived from the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres RallyCross race. One of the ARX2 rally cars in the trailer was the race winner, Conner Martell who lives in Vermont.

Heather Herschkowitz at their new location in Ferrisburg, Vermont, begins preparing the DirtFish ARX2 cars for the next race at Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas September 29 & 30. Holler Customs photo

Holler and Heather had prepared four of the DirtFish ARX2 rallycross cars for the Canadian race, putting in many hours without a break. Then all the cars were transported to Quebec for the third round of the inaugural American Rallycross season.

Heather and Garrett are engaged  Since they are a “gearhead couple” Garrett popped the question while they were at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Day one when I met Heather, said Holler with a smile. “I want that one. I proposed to her at SEMA; this is a good location.”

“While at RPM, me, Brian and Heather worked on the Quinton Bros 68 Camaro build for the SEMA show. In seven weeks with 900 hours between us, we got it done. ”

The Quintin Bros 68 Camaro for SEMA 2017. Quintin Bros Performance is based in Williston, Vermont. Photo courtesy Quinton Bros

Hershkowitz has an interesting story which includes becoming the first female technician at Vermont Sports Cars (VSC) in Colchester, Vermont. Some of you may have read Episode 209 April 22, 2018 when I visited Restoration Performance Motorcars (RPM)  this spring, my fourth such visit. It was then that Holler told me about this girl who enjoyed working with cars and who was not afraid to get her hands dirty.

After leaving Vermont Sports Car, Herschkowitz became a race technician for DirtFish Racing based in Snoqualmie, Washington. Photo courtesy Holler Customs/Heather Herschkowitz

I asked Heather to fill me in on her career in motorsports. She replied, “I am in my third season of working in rally cross. My first season was with Vermont SportsCar/Subaru Rally Team USA where I crewed for Sverre Isachsen and David Higgins.”

“After working with them for a year full-time, I decided to quit and be a free-lance technician where I have worked for DirtFish’s motorsports program. My first season with them I worked on James Rimmer’s #25 car.

Heather Herschkowitz on right at Trois Riviere American Rallycross. She was the lead on Scott Anderson’s (center) #77 car. Working with Heather was Alex Cavelli. Anderson finished fifth in Sunday’s race. He is one point behind fourth place James Rimmer. Holler Customs photo

This season is my first season as a lead tech for the #77 car, Scott Anderson. DirtFish is also our new business’s (Holler Customs) first client where I re-prep the cars for the next race.”

First a quick introduction to the cars. The identical “spec” cars are made by Olsbergs MSE in Nynashamn, Sweden and come in a kit form to be assembled by the owner. Power comes from a 310 horsepower 2.4 L Ford Duratec engine. The cars feature  mid-mount engine positioning with a six-speed sequential shift.

Since DirtFish is located on the left coast and the recent races were in Texas and Quebec, Herschkowitz was hired to do re-prep. What is involved in re-prep of an ARX2 rallycross car?

“Re-prepping is basically going through the entire car and making sure it’s good to go for the next event”, said Herschkowitz. ” Basic re-prep items include changing of the fluids, checking for bent arms, doing a compression check and clutch inspection, inspecting the brake system,making sure all the bearings move as they should and joints properly as well.”

Re-preping one of the four DirtFish ARX2 for Grand Prix de Trois-Rivière. Holler Customs photo

“You really have to prioritize the severity of certain damages given the amount of time you have until the next race. Last event Garrett and I re-prepped. That is a lot for two people, so unfortunately I couldn’t go as in-depth as I would have liked to.”

“This round I have twice the time and only half the cars, so literally everything on the cars will be cleaned and inspected. And during the cleaning process, you find other items that need attention.”

“Short term goals with reprep would basically be that when the cars get to the track, all that has to be done is run them up and go. When the cars get to the track, there is always another full spanner of the car (making sure all the nuts and bolts are tight) and run them up to make sure that they run smoothly.”

“That would be something also done at the shop before the cars arrive for the race, but you can’t afford those types of mistakes, so it’s always gone over real quick again about a day or two before the race starts. Even if the fluids have been bled at the shop, we still may do it right before the race again just to make sure.”

I asked Herschkowitz what the plan is now that they have a shop they are renting. She responded saying, “Luckily since starting the business, we have enough work for the next year. With me being a mechanic and him being a metal worker/body guy/painter, we’ll be able to keep a good flow of projects going.

Worse case scenario, I’ve managed to get a job with an arborist company where I have a super cool boss. Before hiring me I explained my motorsports schedule and he was happy to give me all the time off I needed to go work on race cars.”

Since DirtFish wanted to send two of their cars back to me, I basically told him that I may have to reapply for the position in the winter. But he is so cool that he said if I give him some notice, he can get my some filler work. I’m so thankful I found such an awesome company.”

“I would like to see if DirtFish would be interested in having me do a full winter reprep on two of the cars. That would def keep me busy enough until the next season started again. After all, DirtFish already has a fleet of about 50 Subaru’s for their driving school, so maybe they’ll need the help since this year they have twice as many race cars as last year.”

The other side of Holler Customs

Garrett Holler on right with one of his customers John McEvilla looking at the 1999 Porsche 911 designated the 996 in Holler’s shop which awaits a LS3 General Motors engine swap. The swap will yield 100 more horsepower and increase reliability. Renegade Hybrids in Las Vegas makes the swap kits which will more than likely cause the Porsche “purists” to not like this type of project.  HTF Motorsports photo

With experience at RPM, Holler has seen the high-end of the automotive scale. He has worked with many very expensive automobiles that required specialized skills to fabricate parts that no longer were available in the world.

He wants to be known for his resto-mods. “The ones you are not supposed to mess around with ,” said Holler. “I want to build really cool cars and not go to work.”

“All I have ever wanted to do is build cars; stuff no one else has seen. The high-end cars have this persona that ‘you can’t do this to these cars’. I want to be known as the company that does ‘that’ to them.”

“My intent is to sit down with the customer and discuss what they want to have done and make their car the best in the world if they desire. Give it the uniqueness and custom touch that no one else can do. I like that narrow niche.”

I will be keeping and eye on Holler Customs and their future projects as well as the race prep side of the business.

John McEvilla, Panton, Vermont, with his lifted 1996 Subaru Impreza Outback with Forester suspension. He is utilizing struts from Holler Customs. HTF Motorsports photo

Swanson now holds the USAC Silver Crown record with 24 wins

In 1998, Jack Hewitt became the winningest Silver Crown driver in the history of USAC with 23 victories. He held that record until Kingsburg, California native Kody Swanson won his 24th, the 59th Discover Scott County, Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial at Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana on Saturday evening.


Kody Swanson with crew, family, and friends in Victory Circle at Salem Speedway after setting the all-time winningest record in USAC Silver Crown history. Rich Foreman photo

Swanson in his usual humble ways said this about the record, ” What an incredible night it was for us at Salem Speedway. One of the most challenging tracks on our series’ schedule, and it is an honor to compete in an event with the history and significance of the ‘Joe James / Pat O’Connor Memorial.’ It is hard to believe, and harder to put into words what this journey has been like, and how much I appreciate every opportunity along the way.”

“I am so grateful for everyone that is part of this DePalma Motorsports team, and all of the effort that they put in with us to compete and contend for the win in races like this. Last night was our 3rd straight “James / O’Connor” win at Salem, and our 5th consecutive win on the season – the first time in the history of the series that has been done.”

“On top of all that, it was win #24 for us – passing Jack Hewitt for the top spot in All-Time Silver Crown series wins – a spot he has held since September of 1988. What an honor it is to be on that list with so many greats, let alone be at the top.”

“I’ll continue to use we, and us – because I want to recognize that I’ve accomplished absolutely zero of those wins alone. I am so grateful for everyone that has played a part along the way, and for the support I’ve received from family, friends and the race teams that have made it all possible.”

“This team is such an amazing group of people, who all want it for the right reasons, with everyone working so hard just for us to have a chance to win races, together. From the DePalma Family that owns it – Tony & Patti, Brian, Matt, Nick, Michael & Elizabeth, and all of their spouses and children – to Bob, Clark, Jesse, Ryan, BK, my Dad Mike, my wife Jordan, and everyone who works to prepare the equipment and this team – to all of our families, our sponsors, manufacturers and people who support us – this is and has been one incredible race team from top to bottom, and I am so grateful to be just one piece in the puzzle!”

Swanson extended his points lead over second place Justin Grant to 126 points. The next race on the USAC Silver Crown schedule is August 18, the one mile dirt track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois.

Drew Greenlaw from Maine wins at New Brunswick’s Speedway 660

Maine’s Drew Greenlaw in Victory Circle at Speedway 660 in New Brunswick. The Firecracker 150 is his second feature race win  of the 2018 season. Mike Francis photo

Greenlaw’s PR Director had this to say about the special race, “Eastport’s Drew Greenlaw wins the Firecracker 150 at Speedway 660 in Fredericton New Brunswick on Saturday night! The UMaine student went wire-to-wire leading all 150 laps after starting outside pole for the feature, which he earned from winning heat#2 of the evening. It was Drew’s first extra distance win of his career.”

Greenlaw will be back in action next Saturday evening at Speedway 660 for the Fan Appreciation Night. Only four more races remain on this year’s schedule.

Cumberland Motor Club hosts autocross at Loring

The Cumberland Motor Club held their 9th annual “Mega-Autocross” at the former Loring Air Force Base Saturday and Sunday. Results were not available at publication time. I hope to have results by next Sunday to share.

Rene Marois made his first trip to the Cumberland Motor Club autocross from his home in Levis, Quebec, a five hour and a half journey. He is a member of the Club Autosport Delta based in Quebec City. He made some major modifications this season to the car including removal of interior except the bare necessities, several bolt-on engine modifications, wider wheels, coil over shocks, and delhrin suspension bushings.HTF Motorsports photo

Marois’ father was a rally driver in the late ’60, early ’70. He is an automotive technician (mechanic) and the proud father of an almost 7 years old girl.
Marois started racing R/C cars while in school. He started autocross racing in 1995 and stopped in 2000 due to lack of funds. The French Canadian driver returned to the sport in late 2015 and got hooked again.
Upon returning, he finished  first in the Street Touring class in 2016 at regional (club) level. He was the runner-up in same class in 2017 at same level, regional.
For the 2018 season, he decided to move to the  Prepared Class and said, “It’s a development year, so far it’s going good.”
Marois declared that the weather at Loring could not have been much better and that the group of racers were very friendly, helpful, and willing to help make him feel at home. He said he would like to return again in 2019.
Some County kart news

Team JRT driver, Damian Theriault with all three trophies from Richmond Karting Speedway signifying a clean sweep of first place in each XXX Series races making him the 2018 series champ. He finished the weekend with a win at Spud Speedway. Team JRT photo

Limestone’s Gage Theriault wins his first feature at Richmond Karting Speedway, the third leg of the XXX Friday night race. This is the Junior Box-Stock class. Gage Theriault Racing photo

The next NMKA Race is August 25 at Spud Speedway at noon. Pit entrance is $10 per person while the grandstands are free. Pit gate opens at 9:30 am.

Lets go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria







Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine