For close to 15 years, Mike Holford had a nearly perfect mentor. Then one day, following a tragic accident in St. Clair, Mich., his mentor was gone. Now, some seven months later, Holford is ready to shoulder the load of the late Keith Holmes—the widely respected businessman, talented mechanic and accomplished offshore racer who died in an accident during the last race of the St. Clair River Classic in late July.
Mike Holford, left, plans to carry on the legacy of his late mentor and friend, Keith Holmes, right. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
As the new owner of CK Performance Marine, the Nunica, Mich.-based company he’s rebranding from CK Motorsports after purchasing it from Holmes’ wife, Jen, Holford said his main goal is to provide the same quality customer service that the CK customers have been receiving over the past two decades.
He admits that coming to work and not seeing Holmes hasn’t been easy, but he’s more than ready to take control. In fact, he said Holmes’ plan was to eventually have him run the shop because Holmes envisioned spending more time in Florida. Unfortunately that day came a little sooner than expected.
“I knew one day this opportunity would come, but by no means did I want it to happen this way,” said Holford, who raced alongside Holmes many times over the years. “I’m motivated because I know Keith is still there behind me. He’d want me to keep pushing forward. If it wasn’t for Jen, none of this would even be possible. She’s been so great and I think she knows Keith will be looking over me. I’ve basically been given everything I need to be successful thanks to what we grew together; I just have to keep it going.”
The CK Performance Marine shop in Nunica, Mich., is as busy as ever, according to Holford.
Holford also thanked his wife, Sarah, for being so supportive with the undertaking.
“The reaction from our clients has been great—I’ve received nothing but support all around since we made the news official last week,” Holford said. “We’ve been swamped here. Business is good and we’re moving forward just as Keith would have wanted it.”