People Places & Racing News

Movers & Shakers: Dave Densmore Receives IDRA Founder’s Award

By SEMA Editors

 Dave Densmore, John Force
Dave Densmore (left) and John Force.

Dave Densmore Receives IDRA Founder’s Award
Longtime motorsports PR specialist Dave Densmore received the Founder’s Award from the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. For nearly four decades, Densmore has been the spokesperson for the top names in drag racing, as well as both top series. As the primary spokesperson for John Force, Densmore worked beside Force through his 16 Funny Car championships. He helped navigate Force through the high times winning championships, as well as some of the team’s most devastating times, including the loss of team member Eric Medlen in a testing accident in 2007, and Force’s nearly career-ending accident later that year. Other notable Founder’s Award winners include Wally and Barbara Parks (2001), Jon Asher (2006), Bill Bader (2007), Bill Doner (2012), and Kenny Youngblood (2014).

Centerforce Clutches’ Contest Rewards Driving With Three Pedals
Centerforce Clutches has launched the “Get Your Shift Together” video contest. The contest offers Centerforce fans and auto enthusiasts the opportunity to post learning-to-drive-a-stick videos on the Centerforce Facebook page. The contest was created to keep the art of driving a car or truck with a manual transmission. Stand-out submissions will be rewarded with official Centerforce “Get A Grip” T-shirts. The contest deadline is June 15, 2015, and Centerforce’s Facebook fans will vote for their favorite video. The winner will receive a $500 gift certificate good toward Centerforce products. Official rules are posted on the Centerforce website.

Ryan Levesque
The first apprenticeship recipient for the Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum (HEP), Ryan Levesque, completed his first six months of training with Precision Motor Cars.

Hagerty's Education Program Apprenticeship Recipient Receives Master Craftsman Training
The first apprenticeship recipient for the Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum (HEP), Ryan Levesque, completed his first six months of training with Precision Motor Cars. HEP awards scholarships and grants to prepare young adults for careers in automotive restoration and preservation. Levesque’s apprenticeship is part of a program that has awarded more than $2.75 million since 2005 for automobile and antique boat restoration education and training. Levesque apprenticed with Precision Motor Cars (a HEP partner) owner and master craftsman Keith Flickinger, to get more hours under the hood while honing his craft, restoring vehicles from the early 1900s through the 1970s. At the shop, Levesque gained skills in metalwork, upholstery, fabricating parts and mechanical work.

Laird Popkin Named Senior VP for Black Book
Black Book, a leading provider of electronic data and insight to the automotive industry, appointed Laird Popkin chief technology officer and senior vice president. In this newly created role, Popkin is responsible for all product development and IT operations for the entire group, which includes National Auto Research, Veretech Holdings Inc., and Canadian Black Book. He joins Black Book from Kaplan Inc., where he was chief enterprise architect. Popkin, who has more than 25 years of executive and technology-management experience, reports directly to Tom Cross, president of Black Book.

The WELD-sponsored Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center Team has qualified for the 2015 Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Dual Championship.

WELD Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Team Records Fastest Time During Regional Competition at the Texas Motor Speedway

The WELD-sponsored Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center Team recorded the fastest time at the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow (HROT) Engine Challenge program regional event held March 20–22 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth. The team of five high-school students from Choctaw, Oklahoma, competed against the clock in a total engine rebuild and took first place with a time of 22 minutes. The event was held in conjunction with the Goodguys Lone Star Nationals.

As a result of the team’s strong showing they have qualified for the 2015 Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Dual Championship. Qualifying teams will face off at one of the two top industry trade shows—SEMA in Las Vegas or PRI in Indianapolis. The top two teams from the SEMA Show in November will take on the top two teams from PRI in December in the finale to crown the 2015 Engine Challenge Champion. To qualify for the dual championship, teams must complete a total engine rebuild in less than 35 minutes. WELD will assist the team from Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center with travel expenses to the event.

Mast Motorsports Adds Two New Engine Builders
Brad Brandon and Scott Reynolds have joined the Mast Motorsports team. Both have spent the last few years working for the Mast Powertrain division. Their primary roles will be assembling handbuilt high-performance LS engines.

Michael Caruso

Brake Parts Inc. Promotes Michael Caruso to Vice President Finance and Global Controller
Brake Parts Inc (BPI) has announced that Michael Caruso has been promoted to vice president finance and global controller. In his new position, Caruso will focus on acquisitions and business integration. He will lead a team of 19 people, with 14 of them at the McHenry, Illinois, headquarters and the others located internationally. Prior to his promotion, Caruso served as the BPI corporate controller where he played a key role in establishing the new business after BPI was acquired by Torque Capital Group in 2013. In addition to BPI, Caruso has held the position of group controller for the Affinia Group Inc. and corporate controller for The Master Lock Company and Waterloo Industries.

University of the Aftermarket Foundation Funds Grant for Wyakin Warrior Foundation
The University of the Aftermarket Foundation has approved a grant of $20,000 for the Wyakin Warrior Foundation to fund the educational, professional and personal costs faced by two of their warriors who were severely wounded during their military service. Both of the veterans are planning careers in the auto-care industry.

Grant funds will be used to specifically enable the two veterans to pursue and complete their educations. In addition to covering scholastic expenses, funds may be used to address the unique needs of each warrior, allowing them to achieve their educational goals. One warrior is pursuing an associate degree in automotive technology and the other is working toward a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.

The Wyakin Warrior Foundation has also partnered with the Auto Care Association and Easter Seals Dixon Center to launch Operation Auto Care—a program whose goal is to connect transitioning veterans with jobs and careers in the auto-care industry.

To help the University of the Aftermarket Foundation fund scholarships and educational programs like those conducted by the Wyakin Warrior Foundation, call 816-584-0511 or email Barbara Cunningham at to make a donation. The foundation is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Yokohama Tire Corp. Inks Marketing Partnership With KaBOOM!

Yokohama Tire Corp. inked a three-year partnership with KaBOOM! to include cause-marketing campaigns, playground builds and annual title sponsorships.

Expanding on an initial partnership announced in late 2014, Yokohama Tire Corp. (YTC) has inked a three-year, multichannel partnership with KaBOOM! to include cause-marketing campaigns, playground builds and annual title sponsorships. KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring all children get the balanced and active play they need to thrive. KaBOOM! was named by Yokohama as the charity recipient of the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in 2014. All proceeds from the annual tournament have been earmarked to fund KaBOOM! efforts to provide children with active play so they can grow into successful adults. Through this partnership, Yokohama aims to support initiatives that help put kids first and provide them play opportunities that will ensure they grow up to become healthy and productive adults.

Philips Launches Dedicated Vision LED Website
Philips Automotive North America, a division of Royal Philips, launched a new website dedicated to support the latest Philips automotive lighting innovation, Philips Vision LEDs. The new website features “responsive” design for easy viewing on desktop or mobile devices and includes a year/make/model application guide and a where-to-buy retailer locator. The website also explains the Philips Vision LED guarantee and 12-year limited warranty.

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