LAS VEGAS (April 18, 2010) – Kevin Neil of Shafter, Calif., located just outside of Bakersfield, was selected as the seventh NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the 11th annual NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Neil, 44, is the operations manager at Baker Corp. in Shafter, which boasts the industry's largest fleet of rental tanks, pumps, filtration and shoring equipment.
"We've been working with NAPA AUTO PARTS for a long time and that's where we get all our automotive parts, including filters, fluids, etc. It's been a great relationship," said Neil, who is building a bracket drag-racing car, a 1957 Ford Station Wagon, which he plans to race at such California tracks as Pomona Raceway, Famoso Raceway, and even at The Strip at LVMS. "But, for now, I'm just a spectator," he added.
"I watched a lot of drag racing in high school, then started to watch NASCAR, but now I'm back following NHRA drag racing," said Neil. "I've been three times to Pomona (Calif.) and this is my second time in Vegas.
"It's great to have been selected to be the NAPA Honorary Crew Member here. It's been very exciting. I watch the races on ESPN2 every weekend and follow all the DSR cars and drivers, but especially Ron Capps, because of NAPA. I hope he wins the championship this year.
"NHRA drag racing is great for people like me, who are customers of the sponsors. We get to come out here, enjoy the whole experience, meet the drivers and see great racing.
"What I like best about it is it's loud, fast and it's so open. You can come right into the pits, get one-on-ones with the drivers, crew members and even the owners."
&Tim Delcid, owner of Golden Empire Fleet Service in Bakersfield, three NAPA stores in Bakersfield and one in Wasco, Calif., was on hand to help present the honor to Neil. Delcid has been associated with NAPA, and Golden Empire has been a NAPA Truck Service Center, for the last 10 years.
"Kevin was selected because Baker Corp. has been working with Golden Empire Fleet Service for approximately 25 years. He's been a loyal customer and we felt that he'd be the perfect person to be named the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member here. He's a great NHRA race fan.
"The relationship we've had with Capps and DSR has been very beneficial," continued Delcid. "In my opinion, Ron Capps is the best thing that ever happened to NAPA as far as a race-car driver goes. The promotional things we do with Ron and DSR have helped us a lot, and bringing our customers to The Strip to be guests at the DSR hospitality area has been very valuable for us."
Neil's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for the first round of eliminations. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after that run.
The side of the NAPA Dodge sported Neil's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member this weekend.
He also met and chatted with the entire NAPA 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.