ROB VAN DER HAGEN OF OLIVIA, MINN., NAMED 19TH NAPA AUTO PARTS HONORARY CREW MEMBER OF 2010 IN BRAINERD BRAINERD, MINN. (Aug. 15, 2010) - Rob van der Hagen, 44, of Olivia, Minn., was selected as the 19th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member...
ROB VAN DER HAGEN OF OLIVIA, MINN., NAMED 19TH NAPA AUTO PARTS HONORARY CREW MEMBER OF 2010 IN BRAINERD
BRAINERD, MINN. (Aug. 15, 2010) - Rob van der Hagen, 44, of Olivia, Minn., was selected as the 19th NAPA AUTO PARTS Honorary Crew Member of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at this weekend's 29th annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
The Minnesota native has owned three NAPA stores in Olivia, Hector and Renville, Minn., for five years. Prior to that, he worked for NAPA corporate, managing a NAPA store in Shakopee, Minn., for 12 years. "I left corporate, went to work for a private individual, and then from there was able to put together a deal to purchase the three stores," he said. "I've had a great relationship with NAPA AUTO PARTS for 17 years."
While not directly involved in drag racing, he follows the NHRA Full Throttle Series when it competes at B.I.R. "You can't live in Minnesota and not come up here to Brainerd. It's too cool," he said.
Van der Hagen currently races in Tractor Pull events around Minnesota approximately 15 times a year, in "little modified tractors with V8s in them," he said. "I build them, work on them and race them. I also did that with stock cars before that."
As for being named this weekend's NAPA Honorary Crew Member, "We didn't sleep much last night," he said. "We're pretty excited. It's just amazing, just amazing. I've never done anything like this before.
"We've met Ron Capps before and he's an awesome guy. My daughter sent him some stuff for him to autograph for school projects and he did that and returned them to us quickly. It was really nice and it worked out really well."
Mike Bath, the general manager of the NAPA Distribution Center in Owatonma, Minn., which serves 84 NAPA stores in Southern Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, was on hand to present the honor to van der Hagen.
"The first thing is that Rob participated in our at-track program," said Bath. "We've got probably 300-400 people here at the races and Rob participated in the program. And the second thing was, after reviewing his purchases from the NAPA Distribution Center, he had the greatest increase in purchases. Also great is the fact that Rob participates in all of our programs and is a great supporter of the NAPA programs. So, it was very fitting that he was given this honor. He's probably got 'NAPA' tattooed somewhere."
As for NAPA's relationship with Don Schumacher Racing and NHRA, "It's exciting," said Bath. "In fact, it's a favorite of mine. For me, growing up drag racing or being with my brothers as they drag raced back in the '60s was very exciting, so I have a love for NHRA.
"Most importantly, this sport is very connected with the fans. I think that we get the NAPA name out better in NHRA than any other sponsorship venue because of the close relationships the fans can have with the teams and with the drivers.
"It is far more intimately relational than any other form of racing. And the people at DSR have truly embraced that and help us get the NAPA name out and very upfront and close with the fans and our customers."
Van der Hagen's non-wrenching crew-member duties included escorting the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car to the staging lanes for Sunday's first eliminations round. He then helped retrieve the car at the end of the track.
The side window of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge sported his 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.