In racing everyone knows there are racers, owners, promoters, officials and fans but many times the major players get overlooked; the sponsors are some of the true champions of the sport we all love. While at Volusia Speedway during Speed Weeks we got to meet some very special people and sat down with them to learn how the NAPA sponsorship at Super DIRT Week came to be.
George Shakelton, Jr. owns six NAPA Stores in the Catskill area of New York State and his dedication to NAPA goes hand in hand with his love of racing. He was one of the key players in convincing his area ad council to sponsor the biggest dirt track race in the Northeast held at the Syracuse Fairgrounds each year in October. George says he and one other NAPA dealer on the council were actually race fans when they started promoting the idea at the council meetings a few years ago and now with the great relationship they have built with the World Racing Group and its staff they have converted many. Because of the exposure NAPA has been afforded at Super DIRT Week, there are now other areas interested in coming on board; Buffalo and Albany have showed interest along with dealers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
George’s love of racing began at an early age when he tagged along with his father who raced at Five Mile Point and Orange County. After his father quit racing he owned the car driven by Hal Karcher. His dedication to NAPA also began at an early age. When he was a young boy, George’s neighbor owned a NAPA store and George would help him out by picking up and delivering parts on his bicycle. Looking back, George said, “I remember going to pick up parts and trying to come up with a way to strap the part on my bicycle.” It was then and there that he set his sights on owning his own store. “When my neighbor sold his store, I was very disappointed that I was not old enough to buy it,” said George. His persistence and desire to own his own store paid off big time; he now owns six NAPA stores with his wife Tammy and employs 60 people.
NAPA is a family oriented company, says George and racing is a big family sport that is why George figured that sponsoring Super DIRT Week was a perfect fit for the dealers that belong to his ad council. Race fans fix their own cars and are loyal to the sponsors of the sport they love. George has always connected his love of racing and his love of what he does for a living by saying “People that watch stick and ball sports spend their money to watch millionaires play, while dirt racing fans spend their hard earned money to watch the guy next door compete.”
George and Tammy are avid race fans and have sponsored many local racers in the past and still do. Justin Holland was one car that George and Tammy supported and watched race on a weekly basis until Holland exited racing to runs his family’s business. During the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway this February, the Shakelton’s supported, Anthony Perrego and his No. 55 big block modified. For the past 12 years they have been among the dedicated northern fans that make the trip south to camp at Volusia Speedway and enjoy the great racing at night while taking in the warmth and sunshine during the day.
Even though George is a big sponsor at Super DIRT Week, he has not forgotten his roots and still is willing to help the local racers. This season George has committed to helping racer, Danny Creeden with his racing program. They were meeting in Florida to ink the deal.
We really enjoyed our time spent with George and Tammy and we thank them for sharing their story with us. They are true fans and supporters of racing By ED & BETTY BIITIG