Breaking News

Pinewood Drag Race Trash Talk Heats Up Among SEMA Chairmen

Leno Pinewood
Jay Leno is one of several entertainment and auto industry icons, including Rusty and Steve Wallace and Guy Fieri, who've donated signed cars to the SEMA Pinewood Drag Race.
Steve Wallace

Former SEMA Chairman Mitch Williams is pulling out all stops in his quest to wrest the Pinewood Drag Race Championship from current SEMA Chairman Jim Cozzie. Williams has already constructed one new car for testing purposes and now has two more new cars under construction based on the test results.

The second annual SEMA Pinewood Drag Race, presented by eBay Motors, will be held August 1, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California, in conjunction with the SEMA Installation Banquet and Gala Fundraiser. Last year’s inaugural race raised approximately $40,000 for children’s charities—Childhelp and Victory Junction Gang Camp.

"The goal for the test car was to run comfortably under Chairman Cozzie's best time last year, and we've done that," Williams says. "Now we're making minor adjustments to the Race Car looking for the last little bit of speed. Unless Jim steps up his game this year, he's a goner. That having been said, we believe he will improve on last year, so we can't take any chances."

Williams built the Test Car for the SEMA Businesswomen's Network and it will run in their colors. Williams will also field an Unlimited Class entry and a Modified Class entry.

"I'm hedging my bets," Williams explains. "If we push the envelope too far with the #1 car, then we still have a shot at Jim with the SBN car."

Although Williams says he has no direct link to the AT&T Williams F1 team, he believes that the fact that the name "Williams" has been a Formula 1 world champion gives him a psychological edge over Cozzie. He also lives one block from the Pasadena Convention Center, which he believes constitutes a home court advantage over the Chairman.

Pinewood Drag Racing is so competitive that Williams decided not to enter his Class Winning Modified car from last year. His "Flying Wing Car" was retired undefeated in the Modified Class.

"We feel that all of the competitors learned a lot from last year so whatever was fast last year might not be fast this year," Williams added. "This has turned out to be just like real racing: blown budgets, speed is everything, find a loophole in the rules."

As an example of how much SEMA Pinewood Drag Racing has changed in just one year, Williams noted that the paint job on this year's #1 car cost more than last year's Modified Class-winning car's total build costs.

"OK, we did use Porsche paint on it," Williams notes.

Williams promised no rocket cars this year. He feels that his neighbors in the Pasadena Convention Center area might not appreciate the technological achievement of a solid-fuel, rocket-powered, fire-belching car blasting through their neighborhood.

"Beating Jim fair and square is important from an ethical standpoint," Williams says. "But if that isn't possible, then cheating is always an option."

The Pilot Automotive Team did experiment with several designs that Williams referred to as "Gravity Amplification," but he never clarified what he meant by this term. Williams adds that "the competition with industry colleagues is fun, but the real winners will be the two charities we are supporting and the great kids they support if we put on a good show."

This year’s race is already shaping up to be memorable with more than 50 drivers, industry icons and entertainment celebrities donating signed pinewood drag cars. There are also about 350 cars built by the children at Victory Junction Gang Camp and Childhelp available for sponsorships by “team owners.”

Please click here to help these two great charities and the children they support. Car sponsorships start at just $125.

Interested in attending the Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser? Click here for reservations.