CONCORD, N.C. – Darlington Raceway's Workforce Appreciation Weekend will see the track partner with NASCAR Cup Series teams to showcase the industry's appreciation of the American Workforce throughout Labor Day weekend.

Each team will celebrate an "honorary crew member." The recognized crew member will receive the ultimate experience at the track with an invite to a cookout, a guided tour of the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and a gift from NASCAR and the track. In addition, the honored worker’s name will be listed in place of the driver’s name above the right-side door of the Cup car. 

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Read below to see who will be honored on the four Hendrick Motorsports cars and learn more about their stories. 

Kelly Brandt on the No. 5 car of Kyle Larson 

Brandt will be honored on the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He has been a Hendrick Certified Master Technician with the Hendrick Automotive Group since 2005 and is currently the technical team lead and service center shop foreman at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet in Charleston, South Carolina. He also mentors new technicians at the dealership while being a specialist in warranty service and repair. Brandt is a General Motors World Class Technician, which is the highest level of achievement a GM technician can obtain. 

The 1999 graduate of Wisconsin’s Waukesha County Technical College has competed in the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown for multiple years and won the event in 2017. Working with Hendrick Motorsports engine builder Danny Emerick, the duo assembled an entire Chevrolet racing engine in a total of 21 minutes and 50 seconds – the third-quickest time of the fuel injection era (introduced in 2012). 

Kara Klein and Reggie on the No. 9 car of Chase Elliott

Klein will be honored on the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Klein has been at Children's for 14 years; first as a certified child life specialist and now as the Canines For Kids senior program coordinator. Currently, Children's has 14 facility dogs on staff that work daily with their handlers as they help patients cope with the hospital and different treatments. 

Klein has been a handler with the program since 2010 when she got her dog, Bella. The two worked together for 11 years before Bella passed away in 2021. In April, she became the handler for Reggie and together they work to help motivate patients on some of their hardest days. Klein has a husband and two kids, ages five and three.

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Jim "Jungle" Gilbert on the No. 24 car of William Byron

Gilbert will be honored on the No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Gilbert was a member of the NASCAR industry from 1989 to 2022, when he retired earlier this year due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). 

Early in his NASCAR career, Gilbert worked as a transport driver, gas man and mechanic for multiple race teams in the industry before coming to Hendrick Motorsports. During his time with the 14-time championship-winning organization, Gilbert was the transport driver for the No. 5 team and driver Kasey Kahne as well as the No. 24 team and driver William Byron. He was also involved in wheel force testing. Gilbert says the highlight of his time with Hendrick Motorspots was Kahne’s 2017 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  

Gilbert was married in 2001 to his wife Jaana. They have twin girls, Alexis and Brianna, who are now 16 years old.

Richard “Shannon” Meadows on the No. 48 car of Alex Bowman

Meadows will be honored on the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. His love of NASCAR drove him to a career in the automobile business. A job at TranSouth Financial in Hendersonville, North Carolina working in collections and later underwriting, led to a trip to Darlington for the spring race as TranSouth was the sponsor. There, Meadows fell in love with the track and the sport. 

When CitiGroup acquired TranSouth, Meadows was promoted to the branch manager of the Asheville, North Carolina office. In May of 2011, he joined Ally and was hired to start up Ally’s Growth channel. In October of 2020, he moved to be part of Ally’s new opportunities team. 

His can-do attitude and "Do It Right" philosophy helped him take to the role right away and he was recently promoted to the Senior underwriter position. When he’s not working, Meadows spends most of his free time with his wife of 28 years and his four kids.