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'Best of Best' Honor Dorton at Engine Showdown

The event began with a moment of silence, but the roar of 600-horsepower engines soon filled the room as Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group employees gathered this week for the third annual Randy Dorton/Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown.

Sponsored by Dana Corp., the two-day contest teamed Hendrick Motorsports engine builders with Hendrick Automotive Group certified master technicians for head-to-head competition.  Twelve pairs were clocked until their respective powerplant established a one-minute run after complete assembly, with the shortest elapsed time taking home first-place honors.

Monday’s qualifying round set the grid for Tuesday’s finals, with the team of Jon Young and Mike Maiwald posting a build of 20 minutes, 52 seconds to tie the event record and earn the victory.

Young is a Hendrick certified master tech from Gwinnett Place Honda in Atlanta, while Maiwald, of Hendrick Motorsports, is NASCAR’s defending Engine Builder of the Year.  For his efforts, Young was presented with an all-expenses-paid trip to the February 2005 events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Runner-up Vince Bonfiglio, who teamed with Larry Zentmeyer, was also presented with a Daytona vacation package.  Bonfiglio represented Hendrick BMW of Charlotte.

“This is a wonderful event that recognizes the ‘best of the best’ in our industry,” said Jim Perkins, Hendrick Automotive Group CEO.  “It gives us the opportunity to bring the two companies together and acknowledge the contributions of our top-level staff.”

The brainchild of Rick Hendrick and the late Randy Dorton, the Showdown draws from more than 800 Automotive Group technicians, taking the 12 that are deemed most qualified by a one-of-a-kind Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exam created specifically for Hendrick employees.  Those 12 are then paired with Hendrick Motorsports engine builders.

Dorton, recognized as one of the most gifted engine builders in NASCAR history, won nine championships during his two-decade tenure as head of Hendrick Motorsports’ engine department before tragically losing his life Oct. 24.  The Showdown was officially renamed in his honor shortly afterward.

A silent moment of remembrance opened the competition at the Hendrick Motorsports Museum in Charlotte, and many of the participants wore red—Dorton’s favorite color—throughout the two-day experience.

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