Butler County Times Gazette
  • Holem locates, restores truck his dad owned

  • Racing might be in Ryan Holem's blood, but that isn't the reason he gives for restoring the old "War Wagon" truck.
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  • Racing might be in Ryan Holem's blood, but that isn't the reason he gives for restoring the old "War Wagon" truck.
    “My dad had it back in the mid-80s when he had it for mud running,” Ryan said of the truck.
    His father was Barry Holem who owned an auto repair shop in El Dorado.
    “That’s was what everyone knew him as was the guy who could fix pretty much anything,” Ryan said.
    Ryan said his father had raced dirt bikes before he was born “to satisfy his need for speed.”
    He then moved to a safer pastime, mud running.
    The last time Ryan remembers his dad driving the truck was when he was 5 or 6 years old.
    “When I was growing up I knew my dad raced dirt bikes and I wanted to,” he said.
    Ryan had his own dirt bike he raced as a kid, but when he was 11 or 12 years old his dad’s shop was broken into where he stored his bike and four-wheelers and everything was stolen.
    “I had nothing to race,” Ryan said. “He (his dad) ended up trading this in for a dirt bike so I would have something to race.”
    His father since passed away.
    Then about two years ago Ryan found the guy who his dad had traded the truck to and bought it back so he could revive it.
    “I feel like all of the favors he did for me growing up, this was a favor I could do for him,” Ryan said. “I had the chance to buy it
    back so I had to take it.”
    That favor involved a lot of work for Ryan to get the truck running again.
    “It had been setting 15 to 20 years,” he said.
    Some of the work he did included putting different axels under it and building his own wheels. He also had to re-gear it so he could get more wheel speed, increasing it from 62 to about 90 to 91.
    “Those tires going that fast are more than enough,” he said.
    He worked on it for about a year and a half before taking it to the Kansas Badlands to race in April.
    Ryan said he is at a disadvantage with this truck because it has late-80s technology with the frame, making it weigh twice as much as the newer trucks.
    Despite that, he was only seven second slower during his first event.
    Page 2 of 2 - The truck also features just one seat and a ratchet strap.
    He has updated as much as he could and in the future, he does plan to build a big motor for it.
    “A lot of people just don’t realize how much work goes into this,” he said.
    “Buying a truck and building it are two different worlds.”
    But he is happy he chose the option of building.
    “To me it gives more pride if you built it all yourself,” he said. “I am glad I picked that trait up from Dad.”
    He plans to travel any where he can to race, including a big race in Texas in August he hopes to attend.
    Ryan can look back at his dad’s successes too.
    “I have a bunch of his old newspaper articles,” Ryan said. “He pretty much traveled the nation doing mud
    running and he had another truck that crushed cars.”
    Barry did travel everywhere, going as far as Alaska once to compete.
    “He had to do a lot of engineering because he kept breaking things,” Ryan said.
    There are some differences now in the mud running.
    Ryan said the mud was a lot deeper when his dad participated than it is now, so many newer trucks do not have as large of tires as this one, but Ryan kept the big tires, although the pit only comes about halfway up the tires.
    Ryan said a lot of people knew his father and this truck and seeing it setting on Sixth Avenue again brings back a lot of memories for them.
    “Everybody just remembers this growing up,” he said.
    Julie Clements can be reached at jclements@butlercountytimesgazette.com.
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