The Showdown at SEMA has been held at the Show every year since 2009, with the exception of last year, when it moved to the PRI Show in Indianapolis. This year, 18 teams traveled to the SEMA Show, and 15 will go to the PRI Show for playoff competition. Pictured here is Team Accel from Rancho Alamitos High School.
By SEMA Editors
Hot Rodders of Tomorrow (HROT) launched in 2008 at the Race & Performance Expo in St. Charles, Illinois, with five teams competing for the national championship. The organization first received funding in 2009—the same year the national championship, dubbed the “Showdown at SEMA,” moved to the SEMA Show. In 2014, nearly 50 specialty-equipment companies sponsored 110 teams from 65 high schools, and 33 teams qualified for the national championship.
The season started in February in Illinois with regional Engine Challenges held through June. Teams of five students were judged based on how quickly they could disassemble and reassemble a small-block Chevrolet engine with aftermarket components. This process is completed four times; the worst time is thrown out and the other three are averaged. Teams that average less than 35 minutes at regional events automatically qualify to compete for the championship.
Time-added penalties are assessed when participants commit errors such as dropping components, improper disassembly and poor sportsmanship. There are five judges, each following an individual student, and they score everything from the use of torque wrenches to proper assembly.
In 2009, Team Fel-Pro’s Joliet Central High School posted a time of 44:12 for the national championship. Last year’s national champion—Team Moroso’s Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center—was crowned at the PRI Show with an average time of 19:15. The record fastest time, set earlier this year in Atlanta, came by Team Derale from Forsythe High School at 19:10. Now teams are pushing the 16- and 17-minute threshold.
The Showdown at SEMA has been held at the Show every year since 2009, with the exception of last year, when it moved to the PRI Show in Indianapolis. This year, 18 teams traveled to the SEMA Show, and 15 will go to the PRI Show for playoff competition. A dual championship will feature the top two winners from the SEMA Show traveling to the PRI Show to take on the top two winners from PRI for the national championship.
“The SEMA Board wanted us to attend both events this year, so we worked out a plan and budget where we could take half the schools to the SEMA Show and the other half to PRI,” Jim Bingham said. “We wanted to have a final winner, so at the PRI Show on Friday, December 12, at 5:00 p.m., we will reset the clock for the final-four competition between the top two teams from SEMA and the top two from PRI. Two more rounds will be held on Saturday, December 13. At the end of three rounds, we will have the final winner. SEMA has been very accommodating; the association realized the need for this type of program.”