JOLIET, Ill. (June 6, 2010) – Jim Allen, I and II, shared the 10th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member award of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series today at the 13th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
The Allens live in Manhattan, Ill., a stone's throw from Route 66 Raceway, and Allen I, with his in-laws, runs the family-owned Bratcher Enterprises, which operates 10 Midas auto shops in and around the Chicago area. Allen II also works in the family business.
“This is awesome. I love the smell of the nitro, the noise. It's an adrenaline rush,” said the elder Allen before he surprised the younger Allen with the honor in the Don Schumacher Racing pits today. Allen II was at a loss for words. “Thank you. I honestly don't know what to say, I have no clue, but I really appreciate it,” he said.
“We put together a Mustang for Jim II to bracket race at different tracks,” said Allen I, “but he's not as heavily involved in it now. The reason I wanted him to share in this honor is that he had not wanted to finish high school, then at 22 he went back to take college courses in order to get his high-school diploma. Yes, it's a little bit late, but hopefully it will lead to bigger things and he'll go back to college. This honor is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I thought it would be a good experience for him and would thrill him. It's also a graduation present.”
Bratcher Enterprises was established in 1985 by Allenís father-in-law James Bratcher with one shop, and it grew through the years. After James passed away last year, Allen and his Bratcher in-laws continued to run the business, including his wife Cheryl and mother-in-law Dorotha. “We don't really have titles,” he added. “We run the business and it's all about our customers. We do whatever needs to be done.
“We signed up with NAPA within the last year. Prior to that we had a good relationship with them about seven years ago. Things changed and we're back with them again.
Allen and his brothers-in-law race a dirt-track Street Stock car at local Kankakee Motor Speedway, and they're preparing a 1967 Chevelle that's been in the family for 30 years to compete in a PINKS All-Out event on Speed Channel June 26.
Shawn Busch, district manager for NAPA Chicago Distribution Center company-owned stores, was on hand to present the honor. “They are actually a new customer of ours,” he said. “They own 10 Midas shops of which eight are serviced from our company-owned stores here in Chicago. They have two more in Southern Illinois. They're huge, huge race fans and super customers. So they're a major account for us here in Chicago.
“We kind of looked around to see who was a big race fan and certainly, with the fact that they're so new to us, we felt it was a super fit for the NAPA Honorary Crew Member award. Also, the relationship NAPA has with DSR and Ron Capps is a perfect fit for our business model. The fans here at the NHRA events are all customers of ours.”
The Allens' non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA Batteries Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for Sunday's first eliminations round. They then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track after Capps' run.
The side window of the NAPA Batteries Dodge sported Jim Allen's name as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member this weekend.
They also met and chatted with the entire NAPA Dodge Funny Car crew, were special guests in the NAPA hospitality area throughout the weekend, received NAPA team jerseys, 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.