Jim Cavalcante, a NAPA AUTO PARTS store owner in Lyndhurst, N.J., was selected as the 12th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J.

Jim Cavalvante

Located 35 miles north of the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Cavalcante's Ridgehurst Auto Parts has been in operation since 1971, boasting 15 employees and eight trucks.

Cavalcante was a NAPA VIP guest at this event in 2008 and this year he was selected by Chris Agostino, President/General Manager of the NAPA New Jersey Distribution Center, as the NAPA Honorary Crew Member. Agostino helped present the award to Cavalcante today in the Don Schumacher Racing pit area.

His non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the single qualifying round on Saturday. He also helped retrieve the car at the end of the track following NHRA Funny Car points leader Capps' run.

"I love it," said Cavalcante. "It's a great privilege. I've been a mechanic all my life, but I've never done this. It's a nice rush, nice rush. I think NHRA drag racing is getting more publicity than it ever has. And I've seen it with our customers."

Although not a die-hard drag-racing fan, Cavalcante has a motorsports background. "Back in the '50s I built engines for the 1937 Ford Stock Cars that ran around the stadiums in New Jersey, such as Wall Stadium, Roosevelt Stadium and Hinchcliffe Stadium," said the 76-year-old. "After they started using other chassis when there were no more of the '37 Fords, I sort of got out of it and went into the engine-rebuilding business, then I went to a service station business, and then into the auto parts business."

Said Agostino: "First and foremost, Jim is a wonderful customer of NAPA New Jersey, and has been for many years. We know he's a racing aficionado, so when we sat down and asked ourselves who would be the best person to receive this very special VIP treatment, it really was a no-brainer for us.

"Jim has been a longtime, loyal, committed NAPA store owner, does everything right, follows the program, services the market, runs a wonderful business. We thought it was due recognition for somebody of Jim's caliber in the NAPA system."

Cavalcante 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 weekend, 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 Cavalcante's name as today'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.