ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 27, 2009) – T.J. Smith, of Frisco, Texas, became the 23rd NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex, joining Rickey Stinchcomb of Denton, Texas, who was Saturday's NAPA Honorary Crew Member.
Smith, 34, an automotive technician at Dallas Precision Imports in Frisco, made his first visit to the Texas Motorplex today to watch Ron Capps race in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car and help the team with his non-wrenching crew duties.
In the same day he was advised that Dallas Precision Imports had just become a NAPA AutoCare Center. "That's pretty cool,” he said.
Smith said he didn't have much racing background, but he has "tinkered with some buddies' race cars along the way, including Saturday-night racers. I'm just a weekend warrior, shade-tree mechanic on the weekends on hot rods. That's about it,” he said.
"This is just awesome," he added after getting his first opportunity to help the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car crew. "I don't know how to explain it. I'm glad and excited to be here. It's pretty overwhelming right now. I don't know if I have the words.”
John Biernacki, Wholesale Manager of the NAPA Dallas Distribution Center, along with Jeff Smith, District Manager of the NAPA Dallas company-owned stores, presented the award to Smith.
"T.J. is a longtime NHRA fan, so it was double the luck," said Biernacki. "A lot of times you have these contests and somebody wins and they really don't know anything about NHRA drag racing. And T.J. is another one who is very fortunate to have it in his blood. Once you get the NHRA fever, it's with you. He was very excited about being chosen.
"He's a good customer of NAPA's and has been a good customer of NAPA's for a lot of years.”
"I was here to congratulate the winners both days," said Jeff Smith. “T.J. is a hard-working guy. We appreciate him for all his business and we appreciate both of this weekend's honorees for coming out and living the dream."
The side window of the NAPA Dodge sported Smith's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member on Sunday.
His non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the first round of Funny Car eliminations today. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after the run.
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 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.