MEMPHIS (Oct. 3, 2009) – Dean Hanson, of Atoka, Tenn., was selected as the 24th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at the NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park on Saturday.
Originally from Minnesota, Hanson, 42, moved to Tennessee 20 years ago and 10 years later opened Automotive PRO Tek, an auto repair shop that is also a NAPA AutoCare Center. He and his wife Pam operate the shop, located approximately 15 miles from Millington, Tenn., home of Memphis Motorsports Park.
“I’ve been using NAPA AUTO PARTS since I got into the business, since I was a kid, really." said Hanson. "I used to work for another small shop that got me to where I am now.
"I have a pretty good relationship with NAPA," he added. "They’re my number one call and the NAPA store in Millington takes very good care of me. They really helped me get going when I started the business."
Hanson does visit the drag strip at Memphis Motorsports Park when the NHRA Full Throttle Series competes here, but his personal racing experience has been limited. “I haven’t been fortunate enough to have enough money to do that stuff, but it’s always inspired me," he said. "I’ve worked on a few dirt cars and a few demolition derby cars. They’ve got a demolition derby up at the fairgrounds in Covington, Tenn., and I’ve done that a couple times. Covington is another 20 miles on the other side of Atoka. It’s just a cheap racing hobby, and we use a lot of NAPA parts."
Hanson's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the two rounds of Funny Car qualifying on Saturday. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after each pass.
“It’s pretty impressive," he said, with emotion. “I’ve never had stuff like this happen to me. I come from a hard-working family. It’s interesting to watch these guys build these cars, take them apart and put them back together. I can't follow NHRA every weekend, but I do try to follow Ron Capps' racing when I can."
Bryan Bailey, District Manager of NAPA Memphis, was on hand to present the award to Hanson. “Dean was our 2009 ASE Technician of the Year," he said. "He was chosen amongst submissions from every store within the NAPA Memphis Distribution Center. We service in the neighborhood of 186 stores. The stores were asked to send in nominations and Dean was chosen as the best nominee by the panel in the distribution center.
“He was an excellent choice. Dean is one of those guys that you just like doing business with. He supports the program, and he’s got a fantastic shop. He’s extremely modest when he talks about his shop. It’s absolutely the best-looking shop I’ve ever been in in my life. He’s a car guy and he loves this stuff. When he’s not in his shop he’s got projects, such as the '46 Dodge Pickup he’s working on now. When we hold car shows, Dean is there.
"He actively supports the brand. I believe that the folks who deal with Dean on a regular basis, including our outside sales person Rodney Porter and the NAPA store manager Barry Wright, feel a connection to the PRO Tek shop that goes beyond just customer service. We’ve got a good personal relationship with Dean and his wife, Pam."
The side window of the NAPA Dodge sported Hanson's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member this weekend.
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.