GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 13, 2010) – Keith Hautly, the shop manager at his family-owned H3 Automotive and Performance in Bradenton, Fla., was selected as the third NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the 41st annual NHRA Gatornationals.
A second NAPA Honorary Crew Member for the Gatornationals race weekend will be named on Sunday.
H3 Automotive is a NAPA AutoCare Center that works closely with the NAPA AUTO PARTS store in Bradenton and manager Jon Lafauce. It is owned by Keith's parents, Jerry and Kathy Hautly, and his brother Eric is the service manager.
“We've been there just over five years now and we do general automotive repair as well as performance work," said Hautly, 27, of Sarasota, Fla. "We stay very busy."
Hautly says he's a big racing fan of both NASCAR and NHRA, in particular of NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car driver Ron Capps and 14-time champion John Force, and races cars himself. "I’ve been to this track before," he said of Gainesville Raceway. "I was here at the Gatornationals seven years ago, and I’ve raced here before, in a street Mustang, and then with my father’s car.
"We always came here to race because we used to live in Jacksonville, so it was a closer track. More recently we have run at our local track, Bradenton Motorsports Park. The last time I actually raced myself was about a year and a half ago. I traded in my car because my wife was pregnant.
"Hopefully, I can get back into it now that the baby is a year old. I want to race a Sportsman car. They have a local NHRA series that runs at Bradenton.”
As for being named the NAPA Honorary Crew Member and being surprised when longtime NAPA racer Michael Waltrip joined Capps during the presentation of the award in the Don Schumacher Racing pits, “I love it, it’s unbelievable," he said. "It’s an unbelievable experience all together. I’m really appreciative of this opportunity. I’ve seen the nitro classes race and I love the nitro. The smell and the sound - you’ll never experience anything else like it. “
"Whatever happened with this morning's track prep, it threw some of the teams a curve, so everybody with lane choice relegated themselves to taking the right lane. And, in the semifinals, the lanes were both prepped very good, so it was pretty even.
Greg Moore, NAPA Distribution Center District Manager in Tampa, Fla., helped present the honor. “These fine folks (the Hautlys) were nominated by their local NAPA store. This is basically a new NAPA AutoCare Center and they have an outstanding facility down at Bradenton. They are a fine example of what a NAPA AutoCare Center should be. They are one of our flagship locations.
“The store nominated them and our distribution center selected them out of all of our candidates and, because they're big race fans, I can’t think of a finer group to receive this honor." Keith Hautly was designated the official recipient.
“It’s huge for us," commented Moore on the NHRA relationship with DSR and NHRA. "A lot of our customer base, like the Hautlys, are huge fans. They follow it, and it’s something that our employees and customers really get a lot out of. I’ve seen a lot of them out here today and it’s good to run into them."
Hautley's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the Funny Car qualifying 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 Hautley'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.