LAS VEGAS (Nov. 1, 2009) – Robert Wilson, of Havre, Montana, was named the 26th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Wilson, 48, has owned North Central Auto Parts, a NAPA store located about 49 miles from the Canadian border, since 2001.
"Back when we bought the store we were looking for something different to do and, previously, when I was a teenager, I worked at a NAPA store, so we decided to buy a NAPA store. We've had a good relationship with NAPA ever since. It's been a good thing for us."
Wilson is not involved in any form of motorsports including drag racing. His last visit to the Las Vegas drag strip was 25 years ago, he said. "It was such a long time ago," he said, "that in order to catch up on NHRA drag racing, I've been reading up on it in NAPA's Outlook magazine. When I started reading about it, I went, Hmmm, what am I getting myself into?" he said with a laugh.
"It turns out I really enjoyed being here today. It is certainly very different and very dramatic," he added.
Rocky Mann, the sales manager at the NAPA Billings (Montana) Distribution Center was on hand to present the honor to Wilson today in the Don Schumacher Racing pit area.
"We had a sales contest in which stores that had a certain percent of increase in purchases over the previous year for that month had their names put into a hat and we had a drawing at the end of the month," said Mann, "and Bob's name came up.
"I've known Bob since he bought the store. In fact, I was involved when he bought the store. He's very deserving and I'm very happy to have him as a winner. He's a good customer of ours and represents NAPA very well. So, we're proud to have him here.
"This has been a great weekend," continued Mann. "We had a really nice dinner on Friday night with Ron Capps, and Don Schumacher came over. I can't say enough about the representation that Don Schumacher Racing gives NAPA AUTO PARTS. We really appreciate it. It's great."
The Billings NAPA Distribution Center services 89 stores in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Wilson's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the Funny Car eliminations rounds today. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after each pass.
The side window of the NAPA Dodge sported Wilson'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.