Where Are They Now: George Holland

November 17, 2006 12:47pm

In 1970 George Holland got his first motorcycle, a Honda Z-50. He beat around on that for a couple years until his dad picked up an XR75 for him in 1973. They raced some local events near his hometown of Fresno, CA, and as he progressed they hit more and more races in the Central California Valley.

Through the 1970s, George and his father became regulars at NMA and CMC amateur national events. He eventually picked up a ride with Suzuki’s powerful R&D minicycle team. He won every single moto at the NMA Grand National Championships at Ponca City in 1980 and, alongside his R&D teammate, Erik Kehoe, they were a force at all of the big amateur races across the country. Some consider Holland to be one of the greatest minicycle riders of all time, alongside pioneers Jeff Ward, Bryan Myerscough and Gene McKay, and later heroes Brian Swink, Buddy Antunez, Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart.

In 1981, Holland made the jump to the pro class on his sixteenth birthday. Suzuki flew him to Broome-Tioga, New York for his first national. He finished inside the top ten that day and showed everyone that he was the real deal.
Holland was loyal to the brand that had backed him during his final amateur years. He remained a factory Suzuki rider from 1981 to ’87—a long time by today’s standards. George still recalls his very first Supercross race.

“They didn’t have a 125 class back in those days,” says Holland, “and the San Diego Supercross in 1981 was my first time racing in a stadium. Kent Howerton got hurt early in the day and Suzuki gave me his bike to use. It was way lighter and faster than mine, and I remember rolling up to the start line next to Bob Hannah, Marty Smith, David Bailey, Jeff Ward, Ricky Johnson and all of the fast guys from that era. Man, I was so freaked out!” Nevertheless, Holland finished a solid ninth in the 250 main event.

While George was always competitive in the 250 class, the 125 motocross series was where he would do the most damage. He won six 125 Nationals for Suzuki, then in 1988 Team Honda signed him to race 250 Supercross and 125 motocross, replacing two-time 125 MX Champ Mickey Dymond, who went to Team Yamaha. Holland, quiet and well-liked in the pits, rewarded the Red Riders with a fourth consecutive class title that year, following Ron Lechien (’85) and Dymond (’86, ’87). George ran the #1 plate in 1989 and although he might have won the title again, injuries took their toll on him. In fact, even though he was still very competitive, Holland called it quits at the end of the 1989 season with 13 outdoor national wins to his credit.

“I had just had enough,” he recalls. “My shoulder was so screwed up that it was constantly bothering me. I had injured my knees and they were in bad shape, too. I guess I was just sick of doing it for so long. It was my whole life since I was five years old and I just got tired of it.”

George didn’t squander the money he had been making while he was racing. He invested it in 2,000 acres of land outside of Fresno. Once he quit racing, he put it to use. He and his father started the Holland Nut Company, growing almonds. Today, that company is thriving and they own their own packing plant and trucking company.

George got married in 1987 and has two daughters, 14 and 9 years old. He used to ride occasionally but a snowboarding accident two years ago hurt his hip bad enough for him to stay off the bike. He still follows racing from a distance and gets to at least one Amp’d Mobile Supercross race each year.

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