BMR has garnered more than 60 wins on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series level and seven West championships, a record for the series and throughout NASCAR Regional Touring. BMR has also won titles on the local level in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In addition, the Bill McAnally-led team captured the Rookie of the Year title with NAPA in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2002. Through McAnally, NAPA has been the entitlement sponsor on countless K&N Pro West races over the years and has begun to provide sponsorship for East races in recent seasons.
Through the Bill McAnally Racing pipeline, the team has fielded cars for the likes of NASCAR Next drivers Brandon McReynolds and Cole Custer, three-time K&N Pro Series West champion Eric Holmes, Brendan Gaughan, Michael Waltrip, Kerry Earnhardt, Sarah Fisher and Travis Pastrana. Clint Bowyer made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut in a pair of races for BMR in 2004 before he made his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start.
Throughout it all, McAnally looks upon the relationship between the team and their long-time sponsor as a partnership. It’s been successful on and off the track, as they have worked together to develop various ways to use the BMR team to market NAPA and its products. “I don’t think any one individual has worked any harder than Bill has to help us build our brand on the West Coast,” said Dan Askey, president of sales for NAPA.
In 2015, Bill McAnally Racing commemorated a major long-term relationship with the 25th anniversary of sponsorship by NAPA AUTO PARTS.
It’s been a long road for McAnally, from winning his first NASCAR championship racing a late model stock car at a Northern California short track to developing one of the flagship teams in the K&N Pro Series West and more recently becoming the only car owner with teams racing full-time in both the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. He and his wife, Deanna, have worked hard through the years to realize the success they obtained racing at NASCAR’s regional level.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have NAPA partner with BMR,” McAnally said. “I’m grateful to everybody at NAPA and to all the sponsors in the NAPA family who have been part of our racing program.” NAPA AUTO PARTS, NAPA Filters, NAPA Belts & Hoses, Martin Senor, NGK, NAPA Batteries, Valvoline, NAPA Tools & Equipment, NAPA Mufflers & Shocks, NAPA Gaskets/Fel-Pro, NAPA Bearings & Seals, NAPA Chassis, NAPA Brakes, Balkamp, and NAPA AutoCare have all contributed to the team’s success.
McAnally’s relationship with NAPA AUTO PARTS actually began before their sponsorship started and even before he launched his racing career. He became a loyal NAPA customer while a student at Ukiah (California) High School. The local NAPA store offered a pay-as-you-go program to students to let them purchase a tool set piece by piece. “I bought my first tool set one socket at a time,” McAnally recalled. “That’s where my NAPA relationship started.” That relationship developed into a sponsorship after McAnally moved to the Roseville, California, area and began racing at All American Speedway. That initial sponsorship involved oil and filters – through NAPA Filters and Valvoline Oil.
Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, but that first year together in 1990 was a highly successful one – with McAnally winning the late model division championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at the quarter-mile Roseville track. By the end of the year, the sponsorship had grown. McAnally credits Larry Haith, who was General Manager of NAPA Sacramento, with being instrumental in helping build the relationship with NAPA and its associates. Martin Senor Automotive Finishes led the way among more than a dozen associate sponsors that came on board at that point.
McAnally joined the ranks of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 1992 – making two starts as a driver/owner in what was then known as the NASCAR Winston West Series. He followed that up with five starts in 1993. Despite losing his car and equipment to vandals the night before the 1994 season opener, McAnally still managed to race in six events while rebuilding his team that year. He reached his dream in 1995, running the full schedule of regular season events and finishing ninth in the championship standings. He followed up with another solid year in 1996, finishing ninth in points for a second season.
Ken Clapp, who at the time served as NASCAR’s vice president of Western Operations, helped guide McAnally as a champion in NASCAR’s weekly racing series to the regional level of competition. Clapp continued to serve as a trusted advisor through the years, offering the benefit of his years of experience in the industry.
McAnally knew from the beginning that to attract and keep sponsors he would have to develop a program that offered them a value, with a return for their investment. Through the early years, when he was not at a race or working at his race shop, he was often headed down the highway – towing his race car to an event that would provide key additional exposure for his sponsors. He traveled up and down California’s Central Valley with his race car, going every place he could to gain that exposure – including county fairs, sporting events, and agricultural shows.
During the 1996 season, McAnally began working with Wayne Wells, who was then NAPA’s Western Division Vice President, in putting together a program with NAPA’s six distribution centers in the western part of the United States. That led to a complete new look for the BMR entry at the beginning of 1997, with blue and gold colors as NAPA AUTO PARTS became the primary sponsor and the car number was changed to 16. The change of appearance was indicative of the growing role McAnally and his team took on in representing NAPA. Part of the marketing campaign involved the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS show car, which quickly became a fan favorite at more and more displays at NAPA store events and other events in the West.
McAnally and his team also began expanding their role with NAPA at race tracks. He worked with NAPA representatives to put together NAPA Hospitality events at select K&N Pro Series West races. The initial hospitality events involved McAnally rolling his backup car into the parking lot at a race track, setting up some pop-up canopies, roping off enough space for the get-together, and having a cook-out. NAPA saw the value and began utilizing BMR in developing its grassroots, hands-on hospitality events that worked in conjunction with nearby NAPA Distribution Centers to host store and shop owners. The hospitality events continue to serve as a key component of BMR’s relationship with NAPA. As a NAPA executive, Wells saw the opportunity to grow the at-track events from what essentially started out as a big tailgate party.
NAPA AUTO PARTS also saw an opportunity to work with McAnally in becoming an event sponsor for K&N Pro Series West races. The number of event sponsorships has increased through the years as more and more opportunities developed in key markets. In recent years, NAPA has extended its sponsorship of events into the K&N Pro Series East. Meanwhile, the company’s strong support of the K&N Pro Series West has continued.
Bob Duvall, NASCAR’s Senior Director, Business Development, has witnessed NAPA’s successful approach and how the company has built on its sponsorship with BMR and developed opportunities with hospitality and event entitlement in the K&N Pro Series. “To me, NAPA is doing more than putting a name on the event,” he said. “They fully embrace the sponsorship by tying in hospitality with the race entitlement. With them, race entitlement means good times for their key customers. It shows what true activation is all about with a sponsorship, people attending a sporting event where they can get close to the drivers, meet the heroes that they see on the track, and enjoy the family fun entertainment of stock car racing,” Duvall said.
On track, McAnally continued in the role as a driver and owner until early in 1998 – when he opted to turn over those duties so he could focus 100 percent on building his team into a top contender. The move paid off, as BMR scored its first series win later that year with Gary Smith behind the wheel at the old Portland (Ore.) Speedway. McAnally continued to build on the team’s success in 1999. With driver Sean Woodside on board, the team won two races and captured its first series championship. BMR became a powerhouse in the series in 2000 as it partnered with Orleans Racing and Brendan Gaughan took over the driving duties. The combination netted two more titles, with back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2001.
Always looking for an opportunity to gain more exposure for his sponsors and for NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, McAnally took on an additional role in 2002 of becoming an event promoter. It was not a move he had mapped out in advance, but when he saw the chance to take the series to key West Coast markets he made the move and expanded by forming Bill McAnally Racing Promotions. Once again, it was NAPA’s support that provided a way for that to happen, McAnally points out. McAnally was determined to make the BMRP races special high-energy, exciting events. That effort has resulted in races – such as the annual event at his home track in Roseville – that have become fan favorites.
The 2002 season, meanwhile, was another exciting one for the team. BMR graduated with Gaughan to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that year – winning the rookie title. McAnally also remained focused on continued success in the K&N Pro Series West, where Austin Cameron took over the driving duties and scored five wins in 2002. One of most dramatic stories in the history of the series came in 2003, when Cameron was sidelined for much of the season after being diagnosed with cancer. After sitting out most of the races for treatment, he came back to win two events and capped that year off by winning the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Providing Opportunities For NASCAR’s Young Talent To Make Their Mark The team experienced success subsequent to that timeframe with newcomers to the series, as NASCAR underwent a youth movement. Talented young drivers with BMR accounted for three rookie titles in the K&N West within a five-year span between 2005 and 2009.
Meanwhile, veteran driver Eric Holmes – who already had won one championship in the series – joined BMR in 2008. It brought more success, with a second title for him and a fourth championship for BMR. The 2008 season was also significant for BMR because it marked the first year of its partnership with Toyota. The combination met with success on two levels. In addition to delivering the manufacturer with a title at the regional level of NASCAR that year, BMR also won a championship with them at NASCAR’s weekly level of racing. “We were pleased to deliver championships to Toyota in their first year with BMR,” McAnally said. “That marked a great start and we’re honored that Toyota has become a key partner in our program.”
Toyota has also worked with BMR in developing success with race entitlement and activation in strong markets that have no other NASCAR events, while providing great support for the K&N Pro Series.
After winning the 2010 series championship, Holmes continued to drive the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for several more years. Overall, he won 15 races with BMR, the most of any driver, and remains an important part of the team as a spotter and driver coach.
BMR expanded its program into the K&N Pro Series East in 2014. It became the only team to compete full-time in the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. McAnally has continued to carry the NAPA banner and those of its associates as a top contender at NASCAR’s regional level.
BMR’s program in the K&N Pro Series West has varied over the years, ranging from a one-car operation in the early years to running as many as three cars full-time from 2005 to 2010. In addition, the team has also prepared cars for many drivers who were just doing select races in the series. There are many well-known names among the list of drivers who have driven select events for BMR over the years from Waltrip to Pastrana.
BMR’s blue & gold NAPA car has had an average finish of 3.10 in the championship standings in 19 seasons of competition in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West between 1997 and 2015.
In addition to success at NASCAR’s regional level in the K&N Pro Series, BMR also returned to its roots in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with a successful effort as part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. A win by BMR’s Allison Duncan in 2005 marked the first victory by a female in that series at Stockton (California) 99 Speedway and delivered D4D with its first win.
Paulie Harraka had joined BMR’s weekly program and in 2008 he and the team provided the NASCAR D4D effort its first championship with a track title at All American Speedway. Harraka won 11 of 22 main events that season. His success continued as he moved up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in a NAPA-sponsored BMR car in 2009. His two wins as a rookie marked the first Drive for Diversity wins at NASCAR’s regional level.
Looking ahead, there are no signs of McAnally and NAPA slowing down – not as long as there are races and championships to be won, and opportunities to further market the NAPA name.