It’s funny how someone who you don’t even know can sometimes touch your life in ways you could never imagine. Jarrod Holly is one of those people -- a 19-year-old, everyday hero whose story is as inspirational as they come.
Jarrod was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was just 7 years old, a degenerative muscular disease that results in difficulty walking, breathing, and performing everyday tasks, with a life expectancy between 18 and 25-years old. Holding onto a strong spirit, he doesn’t let the disease bring him down. But rather, he embraces his life with pride and fills it with his passion – Mustangs and racing.
Jarrod’s father, Ethan, has been the strongest support system any son could ask for. Even after his diagnosis, Jarrod participated in a junior dragster competition and won with his half-scale, specially-modified dragster. After a crash at age 10, Jarrod’s parents reluctantly halted the racing program. And as the disease has advanced, Jarrod recently had to quit driving his 2007 Mustang GT, even with the special modifications made to the car.
Then, last year, Jarrod and his father decided to participate in their first Hot Rod Power Tour – Hot Rod’s showcase event that travels to seven cities in seven days. K&N (their primary sponsor who became the major support system for the effort) and a number of other manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon to help make Jarrod’s dream a reality. After some blood, sweat, tears, and deadlines to get Jarrod’s specially prepared Mustang done in time, the pair participated in the 2012 Power Tour, with Jarrod reading the directions to help. The Mustang became much more than just a car for the father and son.
After the Power Tour ended, Ethan and Jarrod took off for the Optima Battery Street Car Challenge in Decatur, Texas, where they completed the Speed Stock Challenge -- a course with 11 turns and an 11-foot change in elevation -- in 2 minutes, 31 seconds. They also took Jarrod’s Mustang “balls to the wall” during a 30-second autocross course and finished 26th out of 36 cars.
Then another amazing opportunity presented itself, the chance to show off Jarrod’s car at the 2012 SEMA show, the largest annual automotive trade show in the world held in Las Vegas. Jarrod’s Mustang graced the SEMA grounds, connected to a modified trailer that matches his car (Grabber orange with black stripes) and houses Jarrod’s wheelchair. The decal that Jarrod helped design graces the side of the trailer, a fuel-altered hot-rodding wheelchair. The stickers featuring Jarrod’s racing wheelchair were made and sold to help with the cost of fuel for a planned 2013 Power Tour run.
To top things off, Jarrod met the legendary Jack Roush at Stage Three in Phoenix, thanks to the Southern Arizona Mustang Club of Tucson, of which Jarrod is an enthusiastic member. Now Jarrod’s Mustang has Jack’s signature gracing the dashboard.
While some drag strips have rules about passengers riding along during a run, the good folks at Southern International have waived the requirement to accommodate the Hollys. The family loves drag racing, and they often take the car to the local strip and burn some rubber. With Ethan driving and Jarrod riding shotgun, the car recently made a 12.34 pass at 116 miles per hour with moving traction and two people adding weight. Not too shabby!
Ethan and Jarrod are anxiously awaiting this year’s Power Tour and recently stopped over at Royal Purple in Houston, another of Jarrod’s sponsors. When the 2013 Power Tour begins in Arlington, you can bet they’ll be there. They’re planning on making all the stops, from Arlington to Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Z Max Dragway. Sponsorships this year include MSD, Royal Purple, Southern Arizona Mustang Club, Nu Wheel, & Precision Gage, and many others who showed support and bought Jarrod’s stickers and participated in their fundraisers.
Battling the circumstances of an unfortunate situation beyond one’s control can bring even the strongest person to the weakest place, but Jarrod refuses to give in. Without any complaint, he lives his life to the fullest and doesn’t let his spirit falter in the least. If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is. Every day heroes do exist and they don’t need suits and capes to prove it.
Jarrod's Mustang on the dyno at MSD.
Showing off the wheels at MSD headquarters.
Car show with the Southern Arizona Mustang club of Tucson.
Jarrod’s 2007 4.6L Mustang GT Modifications:
• V 1.5 Saleen Supercharger
• Prototype K&N cold air intake system (custom one-off for Saleen Supercharger)
• Ford Racing exhaust system – Long -tube headers, x-pipe, mufflers
• Ford Racing Valve covers
• GT 500 fuel pump
• 8-rib serpentine belt system
• MSD ignition system
• 3.73 gears
• Sierra alloy rear axle
• Stop Tech 14-inch rotor front and rear brake system
• Steeda suspension system – 1.5 drop springs, sway bars and rear control arms
• Steeda 20-inch Spider wheels wrapped with Nitto tires
• Extreme Performance engine tuning with SCT
• Corbeau racing seats with 5-point harness and harness bar
• Assortment of aftermarket body components by Classic Design Concepts, Steeda, American Muscle