LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Mike Abbott didn’t need to gamble when he arrived on Sunday to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s because he was given the opportunity of a lifetime by NAPA AUTO PARTS as he was named the Honorary Pit Crew Member for Martin Truex Jr. and his NAPA race team during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Abbott is the manager of Smoketree 76 in Palm Springs, Calif. His facility has been in business since 1964. Smoketree 76 is a three bay and three-and-a-half-mechanic operation. He attributes the success of the company to simple word of mouth.
Abbott is honored to have been chosen by NAPA Los Angeles for the unique recognition.
“I actually thought NAPA contacted the wrong Mike Abbott,” he said during driver introductions. “I was absolutely blown away. I have been a NASCAR fan for many, many years. I was a big fan of Dale Earnhardt and I used to go to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when I lived back east.”
In retrospect, his association with NAPA has been very good to him.
“Several years ago, I got to spend an evening with Michael Waltrip back in Portland, Maine. I won a contest through NAPA. About 100 people from Portland got on a boat and sailed to a private island. I got meet Michael. We ate lobster and had a great time.”
Abbott’s day at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway began when he arrived for Martin Truex Jr.’s and his owner Michael Waltrip’s appearance at the NAPA Race Day Experience. Truex and Waltrip presented him with an autographed crew shirt in front of 250 NAPA AUTO PARTS fans. He and his guest, Marie Barth were then taken to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage area where they got a personal tour of the NAPA team hauler and pit road by Michael Waltrip Racing’s Rick Wainright. They joined the NAPA team for lunch and then participated in the pre-race activities.
The highlight of his day was seeing his name on the c-post of the No. 56 NAPAGold Filters Toyota.
“I am truly blown away,” he said in amazement. “For me to be doing this and seeing my name on Martin’s car is a thrill of a lifetime. It is something I will never forget until I die.”
For the second year in a row at NASCAR Sprint Cup events where NAPA is hosting its popular Race Day Experience, a guest will be chosen based on different criteria determined by the NAPA management from that region. The Honorary Pit Crew Member program is taking place at upcoming hospitality events at Phoenix International Raceway (April 10), Talladega Superspeedway (April 25), Infineon Raceway (June 20), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (June 27), Chicagoland Speedway (July 10), Watkins Glen International (Aug. 8), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 15), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 21), Atlanta Motor Speedway (Sept. 5), Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 11), Dover International Speedway (Sept. 26), Kansas Speedway (Oct. 3), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 7) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 21)..