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Beyond the SEMA Show

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Aug 2, 2016

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Journalists gather at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar (Albert Wong)

Our newest LA Car Editor-at-Large, Glenn Oyoung, gives us his insider’s impression of SEMA’s recent open house in Diamond Bar, California. Even though it was an industry event and not open to the public, Glenn seems to have really gotten the vibe about SEMA and its work to promote and protect the car hobby for everyone. – Editor Story By Glenn Oyoung Pictures by Albert Wong Networking. Most people dread networking. Those people need to join SEMA (also known as the Specialty Equipment Market Association), because I can tell you that SEMA does it right. Last week the stars aligned – specifically two of the hats I wear. My role as director of client relations for Blue C had me slated to attend the SEMA Garage Open House and then I got an email from none other than our fearless Editor at LA Car, Doug Stokes, inviting me to go check out the event.


Talking heads at the SEMA open house (Albert Wong)

The SEMA staff did a fantastic job of putting on a networking event that checked all the boxes. The cars on display were stellar, both in terms of variety as well as quality. My favorites included the Paul Newman/Bob Sharpe Racing 280ZX owned by Adam Corolla on display in the SEMA photo cove, actor Sung Kang’s super clean Fugu Z, and a lowered yellow school bus sporting some seriously shiny dish wheels. After feasting on cars, trucks, and motorcycles I enjoyed catching up with old industry friends and meeting new faces while feasting on the ridiculously tasty spread provided by SEMA. I even ran into my favorite SEMA staffer, Janet Francisco Lee. I’ve known her since 7th grade! (We have dirt on each other so I’m just going to leave it at that…on second thought, let’s just say if the New Kids on the Block had a concert during the SEMA Show I know someone who’s name rhymes with Granite who would feign a cold.) The other highlight of the show was the gorgeous SEMA Garage itself, which after all was the point of the event. I’ve had the chance to shoot at the SEMA photo cove and that alone is a great reason to be a SEMA member. Throw in the measuring sessions available to each member (the new Acura NSX was on display for that very same reason), 3D printing services, a dyno, and the ultimate weapon – the support of the fantastic SEMA staff – and every automotive aftermarket professional there probably came away with the understanding that our network has every reason to succeed.


The view from above the SEMA garage (Albert Wong)

SEMA BEYOND THE PARTY Notes by Doug Stokes 07.28.16—Needless to say being invited to the SEMA Open House at their HQ in Diamond Bar last Thursday night was very cool. The event was aimed at celebrating SEMA’s “Garage” and the impact/influence that it has had on the industry since its launch two years ago. It was a celebration of the organization and the membership that had a sense of “serious fun” this time what with recent EPA forays into what many feel are draconian regulations that would seriously wound many forms of motorsport that many of enjoy and SEMA’s quick and responsible response to the threat. The cast of characters on hand at SEMA HQ on Thursday eve ranged from company presidents of a number of very well-known high performance outfits, to well-know racers from virtually every aspect of motorsports, and from stars of TV motor shows to Hall of Famers like the legendary Gary Hooker. Flat out, pegged-tach-irvana for motorheads like yours truly.


Party crashers at the open house (Albert Wong)

But, as mentioned, there was very serious side to the night as well. SEMA the fun stuff was happening all right, but at the same time everyone there was well aware of their organization’s titanic battle to turn back the EPA’s continuing attempt to put a lot of its members (and their customers along with) virtually out of business. SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, was formed in the early sixties by a coalition of “speed”* equipment manufacturers who felt the need to have a responsible and responsive organization that would represent their interests in the halls of legislation and advance the public’s knowledge and understanding of their contribution to the excitement and pleasure of motoring. Once a year, it seems that just about everyone knows about SEMA. The organization throws a week-long block party out in the Nevada desert at a town called Las Vegas. Every cool part, part, assembly, concoction, publication, dream car is on display and the people who sell them are there to see, spend and stock up on. Of course everyone who is even remotely associated with the business is there, World Champion drivers, NASCAR and Indy Car legends and latest sensations, movie stars… Seminars, speeches, dinners, late nights, (hey … it’s ‘Vegas baby) and early mornings. That’s the public face, the perception. The real work of SEMA, the stuff that matters to car people as much as it matters to SEMA members who sell stuff to car people, goes on just about 24/7/365. This is an organization that’s very serious about us (you, me and all our friends) having fun and pride and personality in our automobiles, motorcycles, and trucks.


Funny cars at the SEMA garage in Diamond Bar (Albert Wong)

Interested readers who seek more proof that SEMA is far more than an incredible industry show that rocks Las Vegas for one week a year are directed to the organization’s site *In fact, the organization’s original first name was Speed … that was changed in 1970 to more closely define the membership which includes every aspect of automotive aftermarket manufacturing and services not just racing. SEMA Beyond the EPA I was only slightly aware of this program and I was flat blown away by the breadth and numbers that this program has achieved … politicians talk about this, SEMA has put a couple of million dollars where their mouth is … This is a remarkable roll-call of young students that SEMA members have stood behind and helped to finance their education. My recent praise was for SEMA’s ongoing protection of car, truck, and motorcycle owners to enjoy them as transportation, in competition, and as rolling works of art. And the organization’s work in helping students to get an education in the automotive arts is just one more reason to support and celebrate what they do the 51 other weeks of the year when the SEMA Show is not rocking the Strip. - Doug Stokes By Becca Butler SEMA Scholarship The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded a total of $168,000 to 61 individuals this year. This includes 50 SEMA scholarships presented to current students, and 11 loan-forgiveness awards presented to employees of SEMA-member companies. Recipients of these scholarships are currently pursuing degrees in accounting, automotive aftermarket fields, automotive technology, biomedical engineering, business management, chemical engineering, computer and information sciences, electrical engineering, graphic design, hospitality industry, industrial arts, industrial engineering and design, marketing, mechanical engineering, multimedia journalism, petroleum engineering and sports management. More than $2.1 million has been awarded to over 1,200 deserving students since the program's establishment in 1984. The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund and the SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program are dedicated to fostering the next generation of automotive aftermarket industry leaders and innovators by helping them get off to a successful start in their education and automotive aftermarket career. The online application for next year's awards will be accepted November 1, 2016, through March 1, 2017, at For questions or additional information, contact Juliet Marshall at 909-978-6655 or email [email protected]. 2016 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Award Winners · Austin Hiebert, McPherson College (Top Student and Jeff Moses-ARMO Award Winner) · Steve Alexander III, Georgia Institute of Technology — Bernie Karp Award · David Beahr, West Virginia University · Matthew Bisbee, Lake Superior College · Joshua Bowman, Pennsylvania State University — Joe Amato Award · Michael Bowyer, University of Michigan-Dearborn · Skyler Brungardt, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology · Brenden Bungert, University of Minnesota Duluth — Professional Restylers Organization-PRO Award · Spencer Clark, University of Wisconsin-Madison · Gregory Cooke, Georgia Institute of Technology — Bernie Karp Award · Ernesto Covarrubias, California State University, Los Angeles — K&N Engineering Award · Benjamin Curtis, Clemson University — Wheel & Tire Council-WTC Award · Luis de Casenave, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez · Nicholas D'Orazio, Georgia Institute of Technology — Bernie Karp Award · Austin Ellis, Colorado School of Mines — Emerging Trends & Technology Network-ETTN Award · Dalton Ellis, Aims Community College · Logan Farmer, University of Northwestern Ohio · Matt Fuka, University of North Dakota · Lael Gobble, Georgia Institute of Technology — Bernie Karp Award · Austin Heinzerling, University of Iowa — Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council-MPMC Award · Ryan Henderson, Pennsylvania State University · Benjamin Hoertnagl-Pereira, John Hopkins University · Josey Hrbek, Kettering University · Almambet Iskakov, Georgia Institute of Technology — Bernie Karp Award · Arnav Jain, The University of Texas at Austin · Alyssa Kawasaki, California State University, Long Beach — Performance Warehouse Association-PWA Award · Conner Knepley, Western Michigan University · Caleb Knotts, University of Northwestern Ohio — Joe Hrudka Award · Daniel Konzelman, Northwest University · Alyson Kuch, Spring Arbor University · Adam Lecznar, Kettering University · Brian Leung, San Diego City College & University of California, San Diego — Louis L. Borick Award · Charles Mancino, Kettering University · Gabrielle May, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor · Ian McKibben, Savannah College of Art and Design · Summer Miller, Brookhaven College — Leo Kagan and SEMA Businesswomen's Network-SBN Award · John Napa, College of Southern Nevada — Melvin Burton Award · Jeremy Peterson, University of Wisconsin-Platteville · Suong Pham, University of Houston · Trevor Sheehan, Sr., University of Northwestern Ohio — Dan Borre Award · Samuel Shelhoss, Clemson University — Nat Danas Award · Sarah Spoto, University of Rochester — Mike Kunzman & Manufacturers Representative Network-MRN Award · Spencer Steele, Bradley University — Steve Woomer Award · Austyn Sullivan-Watson, University of Idaho — John Menzler and Hot Rod Industry Alliance-HRIA Award · Brian Tea, The University of Texas at Austin · Alex Van Nest, Clemson University · Cora Veltman, Valparaiso University — Wally Parks Award · Chase Wilderman, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis · Adreenah Wynn, University of Florida · Bryan Yap, California State University, Long Beach — Thurston Warn Award 2016 SEMA Loan Forgiveness Award Winners · Danielle Campbell, WeatherTech — Trudy Thompson Award · Edward Carter, Motor State Distributing · Daniel Dokter, General Motors · Tate Emerson, A.R.E. Accessories — Harlan Felder and Light Truck Accessory Alliance-LTAA Award · Collin Gentry, Meyer Distributing — Performance Warehouse Association-PWA Award · Robert Haynes, Holley Performance Products — Young Executives Network-YEN Award · Robert Martin, Motor State Distributing — Jim A. Borre Award · Traci Nigon, QA1 Precision Products — Performance Warehouse Association-PWA Award · Michael Robins, Ford Performance Parts · Angel Scharklet, Holley Performance Products · Heather Wilson, Kahn Media — John Raffa Award

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