Steve Knooihuizen, of Ft. Mills, N.C., was named the fifth NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

Steve KnooihuizenKnooihuizen, 45, is the District Manager of AAA Car Care Centers for AAA of The Carolinas in Charlotte, and has been working with the organization for more than seven years, which has 28 facilities throughout North and South Carolina.

"We have a solid business with NAPA AUTO PARTS that's just grown tremendously over the past seven and a half years," he said.

After he became an ASE certified tech he raced a 1979 Nova Super Sport Street Modified in drag races in Florida. "I did a little bit of that and I go-kart raced for a while," added Knooihuizen. "I also crew-chiefed for a couple of kids in their go-kart racing.

"I kind of gave all that up at 40. I promised my wife I wouldn't race anymore after 40, and I'm a man of my word. Once I got into running this operation I had to step away from all that because of time constraints and my family."

The zMax Dragway opened in 2008, and Knooihuizen was here to watch NHRA competition. “I got back into following drag racing because I was invited to dinner with NAPA where I met Ron Capps,” he said. “I actually follow the NAPA side of NASCAR, too, which I didn't do before.

"I think it's very cool to be the NAPA Honorary Crew Member. It's awesome to see this side of drag racing and get a perspective on what goes on with the team and getting a chance to really look at the car.

"I brought a guest here. I have a very good friend of mine, Jason Hill, who recently moved here from New Zealand and he's been a big drag racing fan his whole life, but he's never got to see or be to an NHRA event because he's from New Zealand and they don't have them down there. So, it's really a special time."

Dave Sapp, the District Manager for the Charlotte NAPA company-owned stores, explained why Knooihuizen was selected. "Steve's support of NAPA is second to none," he said. "He is just a strong supporter. We participate in each other's meetings and his NAPA purchases per location are by far number one in the Charlotte area.”

Knooihuizen's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA Filters Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the Funny Car qualifying rounds. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after each pass. Capps advanced to the final round in eliminations today, which will be contested on Monday, as rain postponed the event.

The side window of the NAPA Filters Dodge sported Knooihuizen's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member this weekend.

He also met and chatted with the entire NAPA Filters 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.