Challengers Look to Unseat Defending Champ Jim Cozzie at SEMA Pinewood Drag Race

SEMA Chairman Jim Cozzie (left) predicts his first-place finish in the Unlimited class before the flag drops.

This year’s SEMA Pinewood Drag Race, presented by eBay Motors, will be an intense one for Jim Cozzie, defending champ in the Unlimited class.

"The only uncomfortable element about winning the Unlimited class at the inaugural Pinewood Drag Race is that everyone is now gunning for you," said Cozzie, SEMA chairman.

But Cozzie isn’t too fazed. He has retired last year’s derby car, knowing that he will need to bring a new strategy to fend off the upcoming competition.

"For 2009, we have pooled the best minds from racing and aviation here in Mooresville, North Carolina, to help insure the Unlimited trophy stays here," Cozzie said. "The 2009 car, code named NC09-2, is top secret. I can tell you that we have reserved time on the rolling road wind tunnel here to be sure our new design is sound."

It is anticipated that Mitch Williams, last year's winner in the Modified class and former SEMA chairman, will be one of Cozzie’s stiffest competitors.

"I hear some guy named Williams is looking to knock us out of the number one spot, but our sources tell us he has been known to rely on questionable engineering and possibly the fracturing of rules," said Cozzie. "This, of course, is only a rumor, and I would not be inclined to accuse Mr. Williams of any wrongdoing without evidence. But hey, where there's smoke..."

Of course, with proceeds benefiting childrens’ charities Childhelp and Victory Junction Gang Camp, the result of the race is a win for everyone. Childhelp assists abused and neglected children, while Victory Junction Gang Camp provides life-changing camping experiences to disabled and chronically ill children.

Approximately $40,000 was raised at last year's race. Stock cars were built by children at their camps and then sponsored by SEMA-member companies through their donations to the charities.

The event, held in conjunction with the 2009 SEMA Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, is scheduled for Saturday, August 1, 2009, at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California.

Sponsor a child at the SEMA Pinewood Drag Race, presented by eBay Motors

Members can also help children build cars at the Childhelp Village in Beaumont, California, on Saturday, May 16, 2009. To volunteer, contact Gregory Parker at 615/746-8765 or e-mail

For questions about the Pinewood Drag Race and the SEMA Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, contact Lisa Moreno at 909/396-0289, ext. 105 or — Annie Kang