HEBRON — He’s considered one of the top chassis setup and shock package experts in New England, and also serves as crew chief for a Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North team. Ask team owners and veteran drivers in the pit area, and they’ll all tell you he’s at the top of his field.

Forty-four-year-old Minot native Seth Holbrook is the only man with four Oxford 250 wins to his credit as a crew chief. He won two with Mike Rowe (1997, 2005), one with reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch in 2011, and sealed his fourth with Glen Luce just last August.

“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some great drivers over the years,” Holbrook said. “I started sneaking into the pits when I was very young and have been around the sport all my life. I’m happy when my team wins a race, and I’m happy when my shock customers see improved handling.”

Holbrook works on shock absorbers for race teams across the country. His reputation for excellence is widespread, with drivers in different series and at different tracks utilizing his services. He has his own Roehrig shock dynomometer (measures the rate of compression and rebound) at TJ Brackett’s shop in Buckfield, and does extensive shock work every week. 

“There is a lot that goes into getting them right,” Holbrook said. “I won’t discuss what I do in detail because it’s too technical for most to understand. I’ll just say I enjoy working on them and have learned a great deal about them over the years.”

Holbrook’s 2016 season with Luce hasn’t gone quite as planned. The major highlight came in late May when Luce claimed the PASS North Memorial Day Classic at Ken Squier’s famed Thunder Road in Vermont. Aside from that victory, the No. 7L entry hasn’t been up to speed.

“We’ve been off just a little bit on the setup this season,” Holbrook said. “We tried some things that didn’t quite pan out, so we’re going back to our original setup and will fine tune it from there. We’ll get it hooked up soon.”

Working with Luce and his team is a pleasure for Holbrook. Luce runs a chassis purchased from Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), and Holbrook knows what it needs for different tracks and conditions. He says Luce has the skills to get to Victory Lane when his car is right.

“Glen is easy to work with,” Holbrook said. “Mark Mosher (co-crew chief) and I just need to make the car right and Glen can get the job done. He’s a pretty conservative racer; he’s great in the longer races. He can save the car for a late-race charge, while younger drivers tend to use up their stuff too early.”

Luce has known Holbrook for many years, and feels lucky to have him calling the shots on race day.

“Seth is an intelligent guy who brings a ton of knowledge to our race team,” Luce said. “He takes this sport very seriously, even though what we do is basically hobby-level racing. He can be pretty hard on himself at times; he’d like to see us up front every week. He was proud of our win at Thunder Road since that place is so tough to conquer. Whenever we run well, Seth is the guy behind that success.”

When he needs guidance, Holbrook’s connections in the sport are more than willing to help. One of those guys he calls regularly is veteran crew chief Bond Suss, known as one of the sharpest minds in racing.

“Bond is the best overall groomed guy I know in motorsports,” Holbrook said. “He can serve as team manager or crew chief; he has the knowledge and skills to do them well. He started his own team this year with Florida native Dalton Sargeant as his driver. It’s a great combination of skills and talent.”

Holbrook got his start with Maine veterans Butch Craig and Mike Rowe at an early age. He grew up as best friends with Ben Rowe, who of course has followed his father’s footsteps to success in Super Late Model racing up and down the eastern seaboard. Holbrook has kept up with advances in suspensions over the years, one reason his skills are sought after by teams who want to be on the cutting edge.

“In 2006, everything changed on these kind of cars,” Holbrook said. “Technology tends to trickle up from down south. The Cup teams learn something, it gets passed down to the Xfinity Series teams, then on to the Truck series teams and eventually to Super Late Model teams. It’s just the process of chassis evolution.”

Aside from working on shocks for various race teams around the nation and keeping Luce’s car in top shape, Holbrook also finds a little time to assist two local racers with strong skills and credentials.

“I try to help TJ Brackett and his father Tim a little bit when I can,” Holbrook said. “TJ is probably one of the best fabricators around this area. Both he and his father are dedicated racers who take their programs pretty seriously. If I can help them go faster and win races, it’s a very satisfying feeling.”

Holbrook has seen his share of young guns come into the sport over the years. Some rise to great heights with raw natural talent and solid backing, while others flame out early before reaching a peak. 

“We have a lot of veteran talent here in the northeast,” Holbrook said, “there just isn’t the funding behind them to propel them upward. It’s one aspect of the sport I don’t like, but I don’t see it changing any time soon. It’s a shame.”

Three young drivers are currently making a name for themselves in NASCAR who got there on raw talent: Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell and Erik Jones. Holbrook said those young athletes have earned their chance at stardom. Others have utlized big checkbooks to even have a slim chance at the big-time. 

“The next Dale Earnhardt Jr. is out there somewhere running a Street Stock, but he probably won’t ever have a chance to shine,” Holbrook said. “Fortunately, most weekly racers are content to achieve a little success at their local track and just have fun with it. That’s what grassroots racing is supposed to be about. A lot of guys dream about racing in the Cup series, but they also know it’s not a reality.”

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Oxford Plains Speedway

Sun. July 17 – Show, Shine & Drag – 9 a.m.

Wiscasset

Sat. July 16 – Group 1  plus Senior Tour Auto Racers – 6 p.m.

Beech Ridge

Sat. 7/16 7:00 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series

ACT

Sat., July 16 – At Seekonk Speedway


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