Holloway takes the wheel for Porsche of Chattanooga’s service department

Photography by Olivia Ross / Porsche of Chattanooga service manager Christa Holloway
Photography by Olivia Ross / Porsche of Chattanooga service manager Christa Holloway

Some people relax by tucking into a good book. Others lose themselves in music.

Christa Holloway rebuilds engines.

"It's what I love to do," says the 32-year-old wife, mom and service manager at Porsche of Chattanooga. "It's peaceful, relaxing and very organized -- you take it apart, then put it back together. And to see it running again is a really good feeling."

Holloway says the automotive bug bit her when she was 13 or so, growing up in Gainesville, Florida. She says her whole family was into dirt-track racing, but dismissed her when she said she was ready to drive.

"They said, 'You can't. You're a girl,'" she recalls. "I said, 'I'll show you.'"

She says she raced a bit, and had some success, but realized she'd rather be under the hood than behind the wheel.

"I was more interested in what makes cars tick," says Holloway, who adds that she worked during high school at Honda and GMC dealerships as a service porter.

"I basically ran around washing cars, parking cars, giving people rides, delivering parts, taking out the trash and sweeping floors," she says.

Holloway says that when she graduated from high school, she chose to continue her education in North Carolina -- Mooresville, to be precise, home of the NASCAR Technical Institute.

"We went to class eight hours a day for 18 months," she says. "Three weeks of pit-crew training and you had the option to go for ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification in engines."

Holloway says men far outnumbered women in her class and remembers well bringing one of her classmates to a fast halt.

"We were in brake class, working on drum brakes," she says. "The springs were really hard to get on, and this one guy walks over and says, 'Hey, let me do that for you.'

"It's possible I yelled. It's possible I used some words that were not very ladylike, and I might have had to sit a while with the instructor," she adds with a smile.

Holloway says she got more than a top-shelf automotive education at the Institute -- she also met East Tennessee native Timothy Lee, her future husband. She says that after graduating from the Institute in 2011, they moved to Rogersville, Tennessee, where she took a job at a Honda dealership.

In 2018, she moved to nearby Kingsport, where she'd won a job as a service advisor at the BMW/Porsche dealership. Just a year later, she adds, she got a battlefield promotion of sorts.

"The guy who hired me left after a year, and I took over (as service manager)," she says.

Holloway says that in 2021, she heard about -- and was intrigued by -- an opening at Porsche of Chattanooga.

"I'd always loved the Chattanooga area," she says. "It's beautiful, with the mountains and great weather, and two hours closer to my family in Florida."

She says she signed on as a service advisor in February of last year, but history repeated itself in April when the service manager left. As she'd done in Kingsport, Holloway took the wheel.

"This position is a little bit of everything," she says, adding that two of the four technicians in her charge have achieved Porsche gold certification. "I'm getting to help people, and I really enjoy that feeling. And I'm back there (in the shop) every day. I might not be getting my hands dirty, but I'm always back there."

And on rare occasions, Holloway says, she has to reassure a customer.

"Sometimes someone will come in and say, 'I need to speak with a tech,'" she says. "I'll tell them I can help. But then it's, 'Thanks, but I need to speak to a man.'

"It's still kind of a thing," she says, "but not as much at Porsche."

Holloway says she doesn't get to race as much as she likes these days, though she managers to find her way into the occasional demolition derby.

"Having a four-year-old daughter makes it harder to go out and do that stuff," she adds, "but I have test driven at the Porsche Experience in Atlanta, and that's a blast."

She says her fastest trip around a test track was in Los Angeles, at a 2022 event connected to the launch of the Taycan, Porsche's first fully-electric car.

"The 911 goes from zero to 60 (mph) in 2.3 seconds," she says. "The Taycan does it in 2.5 seconds, so it's right there. I knew the numbers on paper, but I wasn't expecting (how it felt). It scared me a little bit, but to feel it work is so much fun."

  photo  Photography by Olivia Ross / Christa Holloway speaks with Michael Schultz at Porsche of Chattanooga.