Tom Karas is a returning builder to the Randy Dorton Engine Builder Showdown event. Tom has always wanted to work for Hendrick Motorsports because he “wants to work for the best. I have created some lifelong friendships here.” At the start of his career, Tom interviewed Jeff Andrews. He states, “Jeff has made the biggest impact on my career at Hendrick Motorsports. He has always presented himself in a professional manner and gets to the root of all problems without casting judgement.” Tom is excited to be returning to the Engine Builder Showdown event!
Phil is a returning Engine Builder having competed in 2012, 2017, 2020 and now 2023. “The clock goes into fast-forward when the build starts” says Seaton. After his time in the military Seaton worked for an independent shop before coming to Hendrick Automotive Group. Phil accredits Kenny Sharp to giving him the chance to get in the automotive field and show what he can do. Kenny encouraged him to learn, take ASE certifications and work to become the Technician he is today. His favorite kinds of vehicles to work on are Toyotas because he likes the ways the systems function and the longevity of the vehicles if maintained properly. Advice to any new Technician would be to take advantage of every learning opportunity, no matter how small. Phil has been married to his wife Jennifer for 21 years and his dream trip would be to Alaska. He hopes to have the opportunity to travel, see and try new things.
Joshua is married to Lillian, together they have one child, Lawson. Speir competed in 2015 and 2021, worked in support since 2013, and returns for 2023. Over his years competing and observing he has learned that it takes teamwork, lots of focus and proper tool placement to be a top contender. The North Carolina resident is very thankful to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports. The family values Mr. Hendrick instills throughout the organization have influenced Joshua’s outlook on his career. One of his biggest career accomplishments has been being part of Chase Elliot’s first championship in 2020. Speir’s favorite vehicle is a Mustang, he grew up around them and enjoys the driving experience. In the future, Joshua would like to go to the Grand Canyon. “Listen to the old-timers you might learn a few things,” Speir states.
Chris Roberds has previously competed in the Engine Builder Showdown, 2017 (where he was runner up) and 2020. This previous builder experience has taught Chris the importance of tool management and communication. He learned that it is so important to always be three steps ahead of the task at hand! He would advise all new Technicians to manage their expectations. “Aim for the top but realize the effort and time required to be truly proficient. Never assume the answer, learn new things daily and always take your time because you learn immensely from your mistakes” says Chris. He is married to his wife Julia, and they have two grown children, Elizabeth and Shawn. One bucket list item is to travel to old-world Europe!
2020 runner-up Sam Vernatter is making his 16th appearance in the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown presented by Valvoline. “If you do not communicate with your partner, then it’s going to be a rough build,” Sam said. “And make sure you time the dang thing!” Sam says never underestimate the power of enthusiasm when it comes to the work you do. “Make sure you have a passion for what you do,” Sam said. “It will be a lot easier to stick out the hard times when you love what you do.” Away from work, Sam is excited to check a bucket list item off in October 2023 when he goes elk hunting in Wyoming with his dad. One of the best moments of his career was eating BBQ ribs with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his hauler at Talladega. Sam has been married to his wife Ashley for 12 years. They have two children, James (8) and Gabe (4).
Ryan Dutro is a returning veteran Engine Builder who will be competing for his fourth time this year. He has been married to his wife, Alisa, for six years and they have two children, Harrison (5) and Melia (1). Ryan’s favorite vehicles to work on are Lexus ones because he is familiar with them and likes the way they are designed. With experience as an Engine Builder and former experience as a tire carrier with the Justin Allgaier pit crew, his advice to new Technicians is to develop a routine for services and recommendations. One item on his bucket list would be to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef.
Brian Franklin has been married to his wife Shannon for 13 years. Together they have two daughters, Lilly (12) and Shelby (8). They also have a longhaired dachshund named, Jesse. Franklin looks to his dad as the biggest influence in his life not just professionally, but personally. In 2018, he won the NASCAR Truck Series race in Martinsville, North Carolina and his daughters were able to join him in victory lane. “My dad has had the biggest impact on my career,” Franklin said. “It’s a tradition to call him after the race to hash out all aspects of the good, the bad and the ugly. I do not have a bucket list because I am living my childhood dream.” This will be Franklin’s 11th year competing in the Engine Builder Showdown. He has learned that preparation is key along with being able to have effective communication with your partner throughout the build. Also being able to make changes on the fly if needed will help you win. “Still itching to win the decadent trophy or the lottery,” Franklin joked. “Each year brings a newfound knowledge, but communication is key.” As for career advice, he is very practical, “Be humble and listen. Keeping an open mind will make you a better technician and person.”
Bill Sullivan has competed in the Engine Builder Showdown three times, making him a fourth year returning veteran! During those competitions, he learned that communication and speed are the keys to being successful. “My late shop foreman, Billy Hines has made the biggest impact on my career because he taught by example. He showed the effects and options of working hard, all the time and the importance of showing up on time” says Bill. Bill is married with three dogs: Lucy, Ringo and Dudley. His favorite car to drive is his 2006 Mitsubishi Evo that he has owned since new. He still loves to drive it! One bucket list item would be to see the Northern Lights. One of the most memorable moments of his career was when he participated in the Cash for Clunkers and cars were blown up!
Shane Parsnow has competed in 15 Showdowns and has learned there is always something new to learn about your partner, tool placement, etc., “It's all about communication and not making mistakes.” Throughout his career, Shane credits Alan Kulwicki and Randy Dorton to his success, but his biggest supporters have been his parents. They supported Shane from day one and have been there for the past 30 years of his career. “I guess the people who have had the most impact is my family,” Shane said. “My mother and father have been very supportive and understanding of the commitment to traveling and being gone all the time.” “My advice to someone starting their career would be to take your time and do the job one time and do it properly. Also, listen to the veterans and learn from them,” Shane states. One of the career highlights is that he is able to meet new people and strive to be better than the competition. “In starting the career as a technician, find the oldest, grumpiest tech and buy him a six pack and become his friend. He is the one who has been there and done that.” Shane is married to wife, Tami and have a daughter named, Shana. In the future, Shane would like to catch a 1000 lbs. Blue Marlin and fish in every ocean on earth.
James is an Engine Builder in the 2023 Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown. The amount of teamwork and the ability to work fluently with your teammate who you just met was a huge learning point for him. He knew he had a passion for working with his hands and understanding complex systems in the Automotive field. James thanks his high school Automotive Teacher for having the biggest impact on his career. James is a proud father of two, Scotlyn (12) and Gage (21). James’ favorite kind of car to drive is “anything with a manual transmission because it's just fun to drive!” An item on his bucket list would be to ride a motorcycle across Europe. His advice to a new Technician is that it takes no talent to have a good attitude, just enjoy what you do! One of the coolest things James has done as a technician is the annual Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown where he was an alternate in 2018. James states, “I've met some of the nicest people at these events. The staff and event organizers are amazing professionals.”
Chris Moroch is making his 12th consecutive Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown appearance, bringing a tremendous amount of experience to the build floor in 2023. “The biggest thing I’ve learned from my previous experiences is how much communication and teamwork play a role into a successful engine build,” Moroch said. The North Carolina resident states that his dad has made the biggest impact on his career. Watching his work ethic over the years had an everlasting effect, helping him aspire to be the best he can be. “The coolest thing I have been able to do in my career is being able to work around and learn from some really talented people over the years.” He also has a sound piece of advice for new technicians, “The one piece of advice I would give to a new technician would be to listen, learn and communicate with others better than anyone else.” Moroch is married with two children, James and Emma. On his bucket list of items to accomplish, he would like to climb Mount Everest in under 10 days.
Michael is a three-time Engine Builder competing in 2011, 2014 and 2019 at the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown competition. He has learned that you must stay calm and breathe during the competition – just enjoy it! For all new Technicians, Veleke would advise to be patient, learn all the information and use all resources. Michael is married to his wife Jenny, and they have four children, Ross, Gracie, Amber and Georgia. Some of the best memories with Hendrick Automotive Group have been the Engine Builder Showdown competitions where he met amazing people and his family got to join him!
Gage is competing for the first time in this year’s Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown competition. He is excited to compete with the best of the best engine builders. Gage brings unique talent to the competition with previous with Hendrick Motorsports and Spire Motorsports experience. Gage accredits his past and present TeamMates as well as his Crew Chiefs to having the biggest impact on his career. Gage would tell all new technicians to go to the race tracks themselves and make connections.
Keith Hartis, former Engine Builder in 2014, has been married for 28 years and has three children, Jake, Bethany and Abbie. Keith says Rick Hendrick has made the largest impact in his career. He admires the way Mr. Hendrick takes care of his people and has grown this company to be what it is today. Keith’s favorite car to work on and drive are first generation Camaros. He loves to work on his 1967 Camaro drag car. One item on Keith’s bucket list is going down the drag strip in a Pro Mod Drag Car at top speed. One piece of advice Keith would offer upcoming Technicians is to never stop learning. The coolest thing he has done is compete in the Engine Builder Showdown and Keith is thrilled to participate again!
Joe Concato is returning to the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown stage as an alternate after competing in the 2003 and 2013 competitions. He has learned that the competition is all about teamwork and communication. Something that Joe will never forget is that Randy Dorton gave him a chance. He loves anything old with an engine, especially a racing engine! Concato finds it so important to be a part of an organization that has accomplished so many milestones and to never forget where you came from. He would tell new Technicians to “never give up and if someone tells you that you cannot, prove them wrong!” Joe is very excited to be getting married on November 17th, just one week after the Engine Builder Showdown event. Congratulations Joe!
Kenny Kinmon is a first time Engine Builder for 2023. He is married to his wife, Autumn, and they have two children, Nolan (5) and Thea (2). Kenny is most excited about the high intensity competition. Kenny said “My service manager, Matt Bayer, has made the biggest impact on my career by being a positive role model and always available to give advice. He's someone I've always looked up to since very early on.” His favorite car is his ‘69 Chevrolet Nova that he has had since he was 15 years old. Kenny’s advice to a new Technician is to purchase high quality tools once rather than cheaper tools twice. One of the best moments of his career was when he drove the BMW driving track at the BMW Experience Center in South Carolina.
Six-time Randy Dorton Engine Builder Showdown presented by Valvoline champion Scott Vester first won this event in 2006, noting that terrific partner communication is key. Scott teamed with Jeffrey Heinz of Hendrick Chevrolet in Cary, North Carolina to win the 2020 event with an impressive build time of 22 minutes, 58 seconds. Personally, Scott says his parents have always taught him to be a better person than the day before. One of the coolest things in his NASCAR Cup Series career at Hendrick Motorsports has been the ability to be a part of winning so many championships. Scott talked about what advice he gives, “The best advice for a new technician is to stay positive. That mentality will take you farther in life.” Scott would like to visit all 50 states and his favorite car is one he does not have to work on.
Chris King is competing in the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown for the first time this year. He has been married to his wife Alex for five years. Chris said, “my first shop Foreman, Chuck Rowe, has had the largest impact on my career, making sure to keep me in line in my 20's, and pushing me to focus on quality first.” This is the same advice Chris would give to a new Technician. He would advise them to perform the repair the right way and worry about how to get faster later. His favorite car is his 1996 Camaro, but his biggest bucket list item is to get a LS6 from a 2004 Cadillac CTS-V once the wiring harness is set. Chris’ coolest thing during his career so far has been working on a celebrities Z8 in Houston and then again in California when it was under different ownership.
Derek is returning to the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown after competing in 2014, 2019 and 2021. Derek is married to his wife Caroline and share two daughters, Bristol and Elise. Through his experience with the event, he has learned the amount of work that goes into the event and how much these events really mean to Mr. Hendrick. “It’s great to meet TeamMates from all over the country and the Hendrick family,” says Derek. He accredits David Evans for having the biggest impact on his career when he hired him on and supported his transition to the Cylinder Head Department. His favorite cars are Corvettes because they are the most fun to drive. His advice to a new technician is to pay attention to every detail and be sure to keep learning!
Jamie began working for Hendrick Automotive Group in 2007. Throughout his time, he has participated in the Engine Builder Showdown as an alternate three times, 2019, 2020 and 2021. “I am blessed to be able to work for such an amazing company and be part of the Hendrick family” Jamie said. He is excited to join the team for the first time as an Engine Builder. Jamie has been married to his wife, Aimee for five years and together they have three children, Landen (12), Jackson (10) and Jaxson (9). Jamie loves boating, fishing, camping and off-roading. Jamie accredits Aimee to having the greatest impact on his career. The most important things he has learned are communication with his partner and the maintaining of organization in the workspace – especially when fighting the clock! For the upcoming technicians, Jamie recommends learning as much as you can and getting your hands in the game. Hands on experience makes the best technicians.
Mike Maiwald has competed in all but one Engine Builder Showdown since it began in 2001. Career wise, Randy Dorton made the biggest impact, teaching everyone how to look at things from multiple points of view and to listen to the people on your team, “You can learn a lot from listening. “One piece of advice I would give is to be open-minded and listen to the experiences of the people around you, it will usually give you a different way of looking at things than you originally had,” Mike continued. The Dallas, North Carolina resident’s loves the power of favorite vehicle, his diesel Denali 2500hd. One day he would love to drive coast to coast. Over the years of his career, Mike has won the NASCAR Engine Builder of the Year Award (2003) and in 2006, won the nationally recognized Mahle/Clevite Engine Builder Showdown with Shane Parsnow. Mike is married and has four adult children, Tyler (28), Keahan (29), Stephanie (33) and Cameron (33).
Returning Engine Builder Kelly Brandt has been married to his wife Jessica for 15 years. They have two German Shepherds, Finn and Klaus. He has learned through his time that communication between both Builders and having a game plan before starting is most important. Kelly said, “organization during building is also important because if you’re wasting time looking for your next tool you’ve already lost!”. Other technicians from his early days made the biggest impact on my career as they instilled diagnostic strategies, customer communication skills and an eye for detail. Kelly’s advice to young Technicians is to find someone you respect and ask yourself what part of that person inspires you, then add that quality to your work. One of the coolest things he has been able to do is being picked for the Workforce Appreciation Event at Darlington Raceway with his name on the car! Kelly is a previous winner of the 2017 Randy Dorton Engine Builder Showdown competition where he was paired with the Hendrick Motorsports Engine Tuner, Danny Emerick.
Danny Emerick, a five-time Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown champion from 2015-2018, is married to wife Crystal and together they have a six-year-old son, Everett. Over the years of experience at Hendrick Motorsports, Danny has learned how the culture is a primary reason for success across all of Mr. Hendrick’s teams. “Impressive to witness the overall Hendrick culture companywide relate to the company’s success,” Danny said. Throughout his career, Danny credits Mr. Hendrick, Randy Dorton, Jeff Andrews, and Chad Knaus for making the biggest impacts, “They set a high level of expectation and leadership that has proven to be successful in this competitive industry.” Danny’s favorite vehicles are early 1950's Chevrolet trucks. He loves their simplicity, beauty and the era they represent. One day he would love to see the Northern Lights, drive across Australia and stated that one of the coolest moments he has had to date was meeting former President George W. Bush on pitroad at Daytona International Speedway in 2004.
Charles Gravelle will be a first time Engine Builder this year. While not new to the Charlotte area, he is excited to come back and visit his friends. Charles graduated from the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville in 2006. He has been married to his wife Melissa for five years and has two children, Grayson and Gunner, ages two and three. Charles accredits his dad as the biggest influence in his career. “He was a mechanic my entire childhood and it was the late nights in the garage working on the racecar where I started developing my understanding of how cars worked. Honestly my passion has never been cars, it's been racing, working on cars is just something I ended being good at” Charles said. His advice to all new Technicians is to always ask questions.