MOHNTON, Pa. (Aug. 23, 2009) – Ron Cooper, owner of R.H. Cooper and Son, a NAPA AutoCare Center in Salunga, Pa., was named the 19th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the 25th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, outside of Reading, Pa.
Cooper, 48, is a third-generation owner of the business, which has been a family-owned operation since 1958. It became a NAPA AutoCare Center seven years ago.
"We have a great relationship with NAPA AUTO PARTS," said Cooper. "They take good care of us."
Not new to drag racing, Cooper grew up in this area competing at Maple Grove and at York US 30 Dragway in Pro and Super Pro bracket racing in a 1979 Vega and a front-engined dragster.
"We did have some success and a lot of fun," added Cooper. "We then kind of got out of racing for a period of time. In 2003 we went to dirt-track racing and my brother Randy and I own three Legends cars. We are having a lot of success with that. We have 15 feature wins this year, so far, and we race all over the East Coast. Our drivers are Jason Rochele, Randy Kissinger and Brian Weitzel, and we're headed to Charlotte next weekend to race.”
His non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the first eliminations round on Sunday. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track following Capps' run.
"I am very impressed with everything here," said Cooper. "I have always enjoyed nitro Funny Cars. It was one of my favorites and when I was told I was selected as the NAPA Honorary Crew Member for this weekend, I was thrilled. This is something I've only dreamed about, doing something like this."
Jeff Riling, Senior Vice President of Quaker City Motor Parts in Middletown, Del., was on hand to help make the presentation to Cooper. "Ron owns one of our premier AutoCare Centers that does a fantastic job with customer service and really takes care of the motoring public in the Lancaster, Pa., area," he said.
"Ron was selected from a group of AutoCare Centers because of the appearance of his shop and the dedication he has to customer service. His shop is serviced by the Mt. Joy (Pa.) NAPA AUTO PARTS store owned by Mike Deitrich."
The side window of the NAPA Dodge sported Cooper's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member throughout the weekend.
Cooper 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.
"It was great," he said. "This is my fourth time here at this event. I was here last year but I hadn't been here probably for 15-18 years before that. It's really impressive how it's changed in just the last 15 years. The cars are going faster, with way more horsepower, everything.”
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.