LAS VEGAS (April 5, 2009) – Robby Sanderson made a 12-hour trek through snowstorms from his home in Star Valley, Wyoming, to the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to be honored as the sixth NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season.
Sanderson, 26, works for his father Robert as a technician at Master Tech Tire and Towing in Thayne, Wyoming, and was selected by Bart Merritt, the owner of the NAPA AUTO PARTS store in Thayne. Merritt arranged for Sanderson to receive tickets for this event then surprised him with the honor.
"I've been to smaller drag races, but never to anything this big," said Sanderson. "I've seen Ron Capps on the posters in our store and I finally got to meet him. It is so cool to be here. I'm really excited.
"We get about 95 percent of our parts from Bart Merritt's NAPA store," added Sanderson. "We've been going through them for four years since my dad opened the shop and we plan on going through them for parts for many more years. I'm really thankful that he selected me to be the NAPA Honorary Pit Crew Member here in Las Vegas."
As for his trip from Wyoming, "It's usually about a 10-hour trip, but it took me 11-and-a-half to 12 hours to get here. There were snowstorms the whole way pretty much and only seven of those hours were on an Interstate. It was quite a drive, but we got here."
Said Merritt, "Sanderson and his dad have been very good longtime customers of NAPA, so this was a way we could say thank you to them for being such good customers for such an extended time."
Sanderson's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the qualifying rounds on Saturday. He also helped retrieve the car at the end of the track following Funny Car points leader Ron Capps' runs.
"It was loud and fast and cool," he said after his stint. "And a lot different than what you see on TV. I was right behind the cars at the starting line, and then I got into the tow vehicle and rode to the end of the track to pick up Ron. It was a sweet experience."
He also met and chatted with the entire NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car crew, was a special guest in the NAPA hospitality area throughout the day, received a NAPA team jersey, experienced an up-close-and-personal view of the NAPA crew as the team worked on the car, and enjoyed a private tour of the team transporter and pit area.
The side window of the NAPA Dodge also sported Sanderson's name as this weekend's NAPA Honorary Pit Crew Member.
NAPA AUTO PARTS distribution centers at each NHRA event during the season have different criteria for choosing the persons who are potential NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Members.