Colorado Springs resident Pat Holmes left California to come to Colorado in 1998. Bargaining everything he had, he took out a $750,000 loan to buy a local auto body shop.
“The owner had died, the business was failing, and it was the riskiest move of my life. What attracted me to this business was not the actual auto body part, but rather the business opportunity. For me, business boils down to two success factors – common sense and self-discipline,” Pat said.
Jumping into the challenge of taking a failing business and turning it into a successful business is only one of the challenges Pat met and conquered. He decided in his 30s he was going to push himself to learn new things.
This has become the mantra of this successful businessman’s life. The auto body shop was not Pat’s first venture of turning around a failing business. His first business was a pizza restaurant in Santa Barbara, California. This was no “pie in the sky” idea. In nine months, he turned it around and it is still a thriving business today. “I didn’t know anything about sling pies, but I applied myself to learning and made it a thriving pizzeria.”
Born in England, but raised in South Africa, Pat started racing motorbikes and in 1979, he won the Honey Lube Oil 6-Hour Road Race. That stirred a passion that gained momentum. “Traveling in America, I went to a motor cross event where they were racing sidecars. I began motor cross and won #1 in nationals twice. I then progressed to vintage and post vintage motor cross where I won two more national titles. In 2003, I won the sidecar division in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, sponsored by Harley Davidson.
Not content just to ride a motorcycle, Pat discovered a love for restoring bikes. Since the 1990s, he has been restoring and collecting bikes, at one time he boasted an impressive collection of 27 bikes. In 2017, he was at an auction for a client and came across a Nimbus, a Danish motorcycle produced from 1919-1926. “They are not well known in this country, and I knew it was one of great value but it needed restoring,” he reflects. “I bought and restored this classic old bike. This was the first restoration I had done in ten years, after losing a best friend which lead to a disinterest in restoration for a period.”
The most challenging thing during the restoration was the motor and verifying the authenticity of the bike parts, sometimes as specific as the gas cap, in order to be sure the bike was 100 percent correct.
I had to have it manufactured in Denmark. 1926 was the last year of production, but they were produced until 1928 with leftover parts. In April, a Nimbus sold at Bonhams for $85,000. Unlike Pat’s restored bike, this unrestored bike had a motor that didn’t run, no papers, and parts missing. Pat’s personal largest sale over the years was a 1926 Brough Superior SS 100 Alpine Grand Sports bike that he restored. This bike fetched a hefty $350,000.
“This year I’ll turn 67 and my on-going goal is to continue to find things in my life that stimulate and challenge me. This goal-setter has accomplished an impressive bucket list. “I have professionally raced, traveled to milestone world locations, and restored bikes. For me, these are true measures of success and happiness.”
We can all learn lessons from this inspirational baby boomer – At Living Well, we hope this article has rejuvenated you to think big, pursue your dreams, and purpose to be challenged. Life is too precious to waste. Live each day with passion.