For the first time in nearly five years, Holly Shelton will return to the seat of a dirt Midget – Thursday, June 1, at Illinois’ Tri-City Speedway in her debut with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.
Bundy Built Motorsports has readied a Spike Chassis with Bundy Built power for the 27-year-old Californian as she aims to tackle the famed 3/8-mile for the first time since her rookie season in 2016. Tri-City will be the first of what she said will be a pick-and-choose slate of 10-to-15 Midget races over the 2023 season.
Though the official partnership was only recently formed, Shelton and the Bundy Built team go back further than many may realize. She and driver Ethan Mitchell were Outlaw Kart competitors before their time in the Midget ranks, even racing together occasionally out on the West Coast. Fast forward to 2023, and the two are going Midget racing together on the same team – Mitchell and his father Bundy both serving as her crew members.
“To see how competitive they are now, I’m pretty pumped to be with them,” Shelton said. “They’ve got their stuff really good.”
While the Bundy gang is making it happen, Shelton got the ball rolling with a simple conversation.
“I came to them earlier this year with the idea,” she said. “Sitting on the couch, watching Chili Bowl from home – wishing [I was] there kind of made me want to get back out there.
“I see how good the girls are doing now; it’s awesome. I miss it.”
Shelton stepped away from racing at the completion of the 2018 season, ending a three-year stint with Keith Kunz Motorsports and Toyota Racing Development. She’s since graduated college and moved to the Charlotte area with her fiancée – NASCAR Cup Series driver, Erik Jones.
In that time, many were left wondering if she’d ever return to the national Midget ranks. So, why now?
“I don’t know… it might’ve been one night with a couple drinks and I’m like, ‘You know what, I should get back in a Midget.’ And Erik’s like, ‘Yeah you should!’ So, I was like, ‘Okay, that’s permission. Let’s do it!’”
It was a big enough spark to light the flame inside her that still wanted to compete and still had unfinished business.
“You never lose that competitive drive,” she said.
During her 2018 campaign, Shelton drove to a runner-up finish at a POWRi race in Missouri, which then stood as the record for the highest a female had ever finished in a national-level Midget event. Fast forward to 2023; the landscape has changed.
In January 2022, it was Kaylee Bryson’s record-breaking accolade as the first woman ever to start the Chili Bowl Nationals A-Main. Last year, Taylor Reimer and Jade Avedisian became the first female drivers to win a national Midget event. And this year, Avedisian continues to add pages to the history books, leading the Xtreme Outlaw points standings in March after her third career Series victory.
“I love Jade – she is a total badass, on and off the track,” Shelton said. “One of the last times I talked to her on Twitter I said, ‘I’m gonna come and race you, so don’t beat me too bad.’”
Though she sings the praises of her fellow KKM talents, Shelton also wants a slice of the proverbial pie before she hangs it up for good – whenever that may be.
“To see those girls lock into Chili Bowl – it’s a cool thing to see from a girl’s perspective,” Shelton said. “But then, you’re also like, ‘Damn, I want to do that.’
“There’s a few things left that I want to do before I get really old and have a family.”
Don’t miss Shelton’s headlining return to Midget racing when the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota makes its debut at Tri-City Speedway on Thursday, June 1.
Tickets will be available for purchase at the gate on race day. If you can’t make it to the track, stream all the action live on DIRTVision.