By Carr Winn
At SEMA’s recent Installation Gala, attendees paid tribute to the specialty-equipment industry’s pioneers and dedicated volunteers. Voice of the NHRA Dave McClelland was the emcee for the night and jokingly told the crowd that some people think tonight, “…is about installing car parts, and then having a fancy dinner.”
As the laughter subsided, McClelland explained that the real reason everyone was gathered was to reflect on the career of three remarkable individuals entering the Association’s Hall of Fame—Joel Ayres, Dennis Gage and Jim Bingham. In addition, SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting took the stage to personally recognize the outgoing and newly elected members of the SEMA Board.
The night also included some charity fundraising in the form of grudge matches on the Pinewood Drags racetrack. The races are now an annual event during the Installation Gala and there are several classes, including Stock, Build-It-For-Me (BIFM) and Unlimited. Children living at the Childhelp facilities and campers attending Victory Junction built the vehicles for the BIFM class and donors sponsored their racecars for $95. A special thanks to all Pinewood racercar sponsors, and congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Pinewood races. Here’s a look at the leaderboard.
Pinewood Drag Races Results
|1st Place (SEMA Builders Class)||Unlimited||Mitch Williams ||Restoration Parts Unlimited Inc.|
|1st Place ||Stock||Kathryn Reinhardt ||MagnaFlow |
|2nd Place ||Stock||Wade Kawasaki ||Coker Group |
|3rd Place ||Stock ||Michael Timmons ||BedRug Inc. |
|1st Place ||Unlimited||Mitch Williams ||Restoration Parts Unlimited Inc. |
|2nd Place ||Unlimited ||Mitch Williams ||Restoration Parts Unlimited Inc. |
|1st Place ||Sponsor A Child/Build It For Me||Kyle Tucker ||Detroit Speed Inc. |
|2nd Place||Sponsor A Child/Build It For Me||Kevin Mcgowan ||Auto Trim Restyling |
|3rd Place ||Sponsor A Child/Build It For Me ||Mike Spagnola ||SEMA Garage |
|People’s Choice Award||Sponsor A Child/Build It For Me ||Mike Spagnola ||SEMA Garage |
While the racing is over, it’s not too late to make a direct donation to Childhelp and Victory Junction via SEMA Cares.
The following photos showcase activities and events from the 2015 SEMA Installation Gala. To all who attended, thank you for your generous support of our industry and of the SEMA Cares charities. If you were unable to go, make it a priority not to miss out next year!
The Pinewood Drags is a charity fundraiser, but it’s also a race and that means competitors are subject to tech inspections after each run.
Voice of the NHRA Dave McClelland addressed the crowd, explaining that the Millennium Biltmore Hotel was among the most elegant locations to ever host the SEMA Installation Banquet.
SEMA Hall of Fame Inductee Joel Ayres provided the commentary during the Pinewood Drags finals. At the control lever was Victory Junction’s Kinsley Parsons.
SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting (left) posed for a photo with three SEMA Board Chairman. From his left, Chair-elect Wade Kawasaki, Coker Tire; Immediate Past Chairman Nate Shelton, Driven Performance Brands; and Chairman of the Board Doug Evans, Luken Communications.
SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Jim Bingham dedicated his life to two things, his loving family and the automotive aftermarket. Beyond running a successful group of retail stores he has also inspired high school students to join our industry via the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge.
SEMA Hall of Fame Inductee Dennis Gage is part musician, part scientist and part celebrity. Known for hosting “My Classic Car” on television, Gage and his signature mustache have been a mainstay in car culture for decades.