INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2009) – Larry Barnett of Indianapolis was selected as the 20th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the 55th annual U.S. Nationals at Raceway Park at Indianapolis. A second NAPA Honorary Crew Member of the U.S. Nationals weekend will be named on Sunday.
Barnett is the Senior Vice President of AAA Hoosier Motor Club, and has been a member of the national organization for 29 years and of the Indiana club for 11 years.
"We buy a lot of parts from the local NAPA AUTO PARTS store in Indianapolis, he said. "We have 35 towing vehicles and we buy tons of parts from NAPA."
This was Barnett's first visit to the prestigious U.S. Nationals, which is considered the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and/or Super Bowl of NHRA. "It's fabulous," said Barnett, 54. "I didn't really know what to expect and I'm very impressed. We are more involved at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway down the road, and we sponsor IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher.
"It's such a privilege, it's wonderful. NAPA is a great company and we have a great relationship and I'm very honored, to be quite honest with you. It's incredible."
Bob Wildt, Wholesale Manager for the NAPA Indianapolis Distribution Center, was on hand to present the honor to Barnett.
"We had our second annual NHRA 'Need for Speed' promotion," said Wildt. "We had 80,000 game pieces that were stapled or given to each customer per every invoice when they ordered from the store. It was a scratch-and-win program. They could win NAPA cash, autographed Ron Capps prints or U.S. Nationals tickets. The grand prize was to be the NAPA Honorary Crew Member.
"We took the 50 winners who received two tickets to the U.S. Nationals here today (Saturday) and one of those 50 would win the grand prize and it was Larry Barnett who was selected.
"This program has been highly successful, bigger this year than last year," added Wildt, "and we had very high demand from our wholesale customers throughout the Indianapolis servicing area which encompasses northern Kentucky, Cincinnati. We go up north to the Knox, Winamack, Kentland area, south to Bedford and Mitchell all (in Indiana) and west to Danville, Ill. It's very receptive to customers. They ask for the game pieces and it's a very exciting program for us."
Barnett's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the two qualifying rounds on Saturday. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track following Capps' runs.
The side window of the NAPA Dodge sported Barnett's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member on Saturday.
Barnett 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.
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.