The motorsports universe is a pretty big place with something for everyone — some stick to one form of racing, while others like to eat from the entire horsepower buffet. California native Roger Holder has sampled all kinds of delicacies in the racing world, but he always seems to find himself back at a drag strip. The latest machine in his drag racing arsenal is this twin-turbo 1968 Nova — an immaculate work of art that’s every bit as fast as it looks.
When you speak with Roger you quickly realize he’s proof that drag racing could be an hereditary trait. Just walking around his pit at an event you can see he’s surrounded himself with generations of people who are into racing that help him with his cars. Roger’s genetic necessity to be around racing comes directly from his father and his interests in motorized mayhem.
“My father got me into racing by having fast stuff around — he also was a drag racer and it must have been in our genes, so that’s why I’m into it so much. Dad was always tinkering with something that had an engine, from flat-bottom boats to drag cars. I grew up helping him, so being around racing all the time really made me learn to enjoy the competition aspect of the sport, plus it made me always want to go faster than everyone else,” Roger says.
With the influence of his father weighing heavy on him, Roger was always looking for an outlet to compete. He started out racing BMX bicycles and eventually found his way to the motocross world before coming back to four-wheeled machines. Roger has raced on both asphalt and dirt ovals, but drag racing was something he could ever fully escape. The time spent with his father turning wrenches on his drag cars continues to fuel his need to race to this day.
When it comes to drag racing Roger has been behind the wheel of just about anything you can think of, but the car that really cemented his adoration for the automobile was the 1967 Chevelle that his father gave to him. That car began life as a family vehicle for the Holders, and it’s where Roger cut his teeth drag racing on the streets when he was just 16 years old.
“We first took the Chevelle out to the local street races when I was about 14. Dad was racing the car with a small-block in it at the time and ended up getting outrun where we were racing. The very next day he started looking into building a big-block for the car to make it faster. That is the exact point where I really got hooked on drag racing and haven’t been able to stop ever since,” Holder explains.
Roger and his father cracked open the Chevelle and began to work on making it faster so it could run with the top cars in the area. When Roger’s 16th birthday rolled around it was his turn to take over the driving duties of the Chevelle, and that’s when the fun really began, since he now had one of the fastest cars on the street. There was no turning back now, as Roger had found something that truly excited him, and he was in it for the long haul.
Street racing isn’t the smartest or safest thing to do under even under the best circumstances, and eventually, most gearheads learn this lesson. When you mix in a muscle car making big horsepower with racing on the street, it’s a recipe for disaster, and that led Roger to make a decision about his racing future that would set the stage for even bigger things.
Around 1999 I began heads-up drag racing and haven’t looked back.
“I street-raced the Chevelle for about five years until things just started to get out of hand. That car was just making so much power that it wasn’t safe to race it on the street, so I decided to just start racing at the track. Around 1999 I began heads-up drag racing and haven’t looked back; over the years I have tried to get into other racing, like IMCA Modified Super Stocks on asphalt, to take a step back from drag racing, but all that has done is create more hobbies,” Holder says.
The parade of cars that Roger has piloted over the years is both lengthy and impressive. He’s made laps in classics like a 1964 Chevelle, 1968 Camaro, along with a Radial vs The World 2000 Camaro and a 2017 Jerry Bickel Race Cars Pro Mod-style Camaro. All of these cars were built to match Rogers need to go as fast as possible and run at the front of the pack no matter where he chose to race.
With heads-up races becoming harder to find with the clocks on on the West coast, he decided it was time to try something different and go no-time racing.
“I wanted to get into no-time racing just so we could actually race more out here on the West coast. I purchased a Camaro from a no-time racer named DaRula that was a nitrous car to start out with. Eventually, I decided I wanted to sell the Pro Mod to find something else, and that’s how I ended up getting the Nova as a roller from DaRula too,” Holder explains.
Over the course of eight months, Roger and his crew worked on preparing the Nova for its no-time debut. For power, Roger went to Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering and secured the parts to build one of its HEMI-based engines. Roger, along with John Kerchner, assembled the engine’s rotating assembly with parts that could handle plenty of boost. To make sure the HEMI could breathe deep, a set of Noonan’s newest cylinder heads were used, along with a Noonan intake manifold.
Deeds Performance was selected to build the turbo system. Boost comes from a pair of Precision Turbo & Engine turbos that work with Precision blow-off valves and wastegates. The shifting duties are handled by an M&M Transmission that works with an M&M torque converter. Fuel is introduced into the engine through a set of Billet Atomizer Injectors that are controlled by a full suite of FuelTech electronics. All of the tuning calls are made by Josh Deeds and Roger himself before each pass.
A PST carbon fiber driveshaft transmits all the horsepower it can to a Strange Engineering rearend that uses a set of Strange axles and spool. Menscer Motorsports shocks take care of the dampening duties at each corner of the car as it rolls along on a full set of RC Components wheels that are wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubber. Bringing the car to a stop after each pass is a set of Strange Engineering brakes in the front and rear.
Roger’s Nova has a perfect slammed stance from all of the suspension and chassis work that has been done, but that’s just part of the car’s incredible look. A deep shade of candy brandywine from PPG has been laid down on the stock body panels, Unlimited Fiberglass hood, and spoiler to give the car a stunning look.
The Nova received a harsh trial by fire fin its debut. After just a day of testing at Orlando Speed World Dragway, Roger took the car to No Mercy 10 at South Georgia Motorsports Park to make its debut in the Extreme 275 NT class. After a few shakedown hits Roger and his team had the car going down the track, but with the level of competition on the property, and a first-round date with David Reese’s El Diablo, it was shaping up to be a short weekend for the Nova’s debut.
I decided that I wanted to get into no-time racing just so we could actually race more out here on the West coast.
Then a funny thing happened — lady luck decided to roll the ball into Roger’s court and he took full advantage of it. Reese struck the tires as soon as the tree dropped and Roger made a very fast pass without any issues. That was all the momentum that was needed to kick off a successful weekend. Roger continued to make impressive runs and pick up wins, until the semi-final round when things got interesting. After the finish line, both the passenger door and rear window of the Nova blew out in spectacular fashion at upwards of 200 mph, leaving Roger and his team with a whole lot of work to do and little time to do it.
“We really had to thrash on the car to get it ready for the final round. Thankfully, Jason Richards gave us the time we needed to get the car fixed and we had a lot of people, including other teams, jump in to fix the door and back window. We ended up beating Jason and winning the race, which was crazy considering it was the first time the car was out and it only had like seven passes total on it. This car is showing a lot of potential early and I think it will be very fast when we get it dialed in,” Roger explains.
Roger has a great support system and team behind him that keeps the wheels rolling on his racing endeavors. His wife sticks by his side no matter where the racing takes him. When race day rolls around Roger counts on Chris Wheeler, Rod Wheeler, Will Simco, Michelle Simco, Brian Peterson, Lyle Robertson, Josh Deeds, and anyone else that is always willing to lend a hand to make sure the Nova is in the lanes ready to go.
Besides his team, Roger also has some great companies that help him continue to race.
“Of course we’re backed by our company, Holders Air Conditioning & Heating, and that really helps make all of this happen. Deeds Performance deserves a lot of recognition for all their fabrication and tuning help on the car. I also want to thank FuelTech, Menscer Motorsports, SpeedWire, ProWire, M&M Transmissions, K&N, John Kerchner for the engine help, RC Components, Precision Turbo, Noonan Race Engines, and Unlimited Products.”
Roger Holder has tried nearly every kind of motorsport imaginable, but he always comes back to his first love: drag racing. Creating such a slick ride like his 1968 Nova shows that Holder really enjoys anything fast, and his decision to jump into the no-time racing world makes it obvious just how much he loves tough competition.