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SEMA Council & Network News: HRIA Hosting NSRA Nationals Events

Strengthen Your Company Through Community

No matter what niche you're in—rods, restoration, racing, restyling, reps, trucks or wheels and tires—there's a SEMA council or professional network that's right for your company. SEMA councils and networks offer members a variety of market-specific programs and activities designed to provide educational and networking opportunities while promoting their particular industry segment.

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HRIA Hosting Exciting Events at NSRA Nationals

HRIA General Membership Meeting

The Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) is hosting a general membership meeting at the NSRA Nationals on August 3—one day before the event opens. General membership meetings are a great opportunity to learn more about the council and the resources available exclusively to HRIA members. Attendees will hear the latest updates from the select committee and enjoy an open discussion on the hot rod industry.

With the SEMA Show just around the corner, the select committee will announce opportunities to volunteer at the Show and other opportunities to become more involved in council activities. Enjoy refreshments while connecting with hot-rod professionals.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, August 3, from 3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m., in the Saddle and Sirloin Club, Freedom Hall.

Register Here.

HRIA Education Day Moves to NSRA Nationals

The HRIA is moving its Education Day sessions to be hosted at the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. Twelve manufacturers will give hour-long presentations on not only their product line but also tips and tricks for your restoration projects. The Education Day will take place Thursday, August 4, with sessions beginning at 9:00 a.m. and the last session concluding at 4:15 p.m., with two simultaneous presentations per hour. The sessions will be set up classroom style with some manufacturers having panel discussions while others will be true presentation style. These valuable sessions are open to all NSRA Nationals attendees. This is a popular event and seats are limited.

Reserve your spot in the sessions.

HRIA Pinewood Builder’s Challenge

If you are attending the NSRA Nationals, you do not want to miss the HRIA Pinewood Builder’s Challenge taking place Friday and Saturday (August 5–6) of the nationals on the show floor. The annual HRIA Pinewood Builders Challenge is an opportunity to showcase the skills of nationally known hot-rod builders while raising money for SEMA Cares charities benefiting Childhelp and Victory Junction facilities.

Cheer on the builders as they race their one-of-a-kind, small-scale pinewood cars for recognition and a good cause. After the races, the pinewoods are placed on display in the HRIA booth and auctioned off during the HRIA Industry Awards Reception at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

If you have questions regarding any of these events, contact SEMA Director of Councils Jim Skelly at 909-978-6690 or

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Todd Earsley
Erika Klein

Meet the YEN Power Tour Participants

The Young Executives Network (YEN) will hit the road this summer with 10 members to participate in the Hot Rod Power Tour. The YENsters will stop in seven cities, starting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the finish line in Kansas City, Kansas. Each stop attracts hundreds of local car enthusiasts, students and automotive professionals. YEN members will interact with students, showing them around the “traveling car show,” and discussing career paths in the automotive aftermarket industry.

You can follow them along their journey via the hashtag #YENPowerTour.

Let’s meet one of the teams!

Driver – Todd Earsley, My Shop Assist: President

Todd Earsley has taken his passion for the automotive industry and turned it into a business (well, multiple businesses actually). He co-founded My Shop Assist—a web-based project management system for performance shops—in 2012. He edits the “Do It For A Living” podcast. He teaches a business management seminar for shop owners called “Essentials of Operating a Shop.” And he owns his own dyno/fabrication business called Friction Circle Fabrication. You can also catch Earsley on TV, where he competes in the Ultimate Street Car Association races presented by Optima Batteries in his ’03 Mitsubishi Evo, built by Evolution Dynamics. He will drive his Camaro on the YEN Power Tour.

Todd Earsley will drive his Camaro on the Hot Rod Power Tour.

Passenger – Erika Klein, Product Development Manager

Erika Klein has been in the retail industry developing brands for the past 13 years, and has specifically been in the automotive aftermarket for the last three at (an AutoZone company). As the product development manager at AutoAnything, Klein has developed and launched three new private-label brands, which has helped her get more connected to the industry, her customers and their needs.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the automotive aftermarket, especially as a woman.” says Klein. “Not only to help drive innovation but to help drive evolution in culture. I have recently had the pleasure of serving on the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network as a select committee member, where I lend my fresh set of eyes and passion for innovation to help elevate women in the automotive industry.” 

Overall it has been a great experience for her learning a new industry and being an SBN select committee member. She is excited to make even more connections with peers and students during the Power Tour! 

For more information on the YEN Power Tour, visit

Jayke Milton

YEN Member Insight: Jayke Milton, Co-Founder, fuelculture Media

What is fuelculture Media? How does it work?

The fuelculture Media Agency was born of an intuitive and organic inclination toward both modern media and automotive passion. We, in practice, are a full-service media agency dedicated to the automotive aftermarket and specializing in creating and distributing content for mass public consumption. Our progression through the industry has led us to creating and executing many entities, and fuelculture serves somewhat as the zip tie that binds it all together. Wrecked magazine, Sponsor Spotter, Slide America, The Street Driven Tour and more have all been created to serve both our industry and our clients.

What’s the best part about developing this type of business?

The freedom to create. We are free to keep our fingers to the pulse of the consumer, which has allowed us to consistently produce creative marketing initiatives for our clients that truly integrate their brands into the communities they want to sell into. We get to play the bridge of two worlds and, for us, it is a rewarding challenge.

When/how did you decide to merge your experience with your passion for the aftermarket?

The day I decided to quit my restaurant job in college and start a “career.” We decided to shoot a documentary film about grassroots drifting in the United States, and everything after that was created from what we learned and experienced along the road. This industry has provided me the only professional home I have ever known, and with fuelculture, we are constantly pushing the limits to strengthen and drive this industry forward.

What roles do social media and content marketing play in the aftermarket?

I think a broad answer is that this depends on who you target. But for us, the role of social and content-based marketing is of paramount importance. We as industry producers must access the next generation of consumers through a different medium where those consumers are most often found—through a screen. As this new breed of digital consumer evolves, so does their ability to understand when they are being targeted. This leaves it up to us to produce brand-integrated content that is entertaining, educational and experiential and that at least narrows the selection tree during a buying decision. The content is the cargo; social media is the big rig delivering it.

What is your opinion on the youth market? Are young people still interested in cars? How do companies connect with them?

The youth market is something that every industry on this planet is fighting for because they’re all accessible through some medium or another. Because of this access, there are so many different messages competing for the same attention span. Because of this wealth of choice, the youth market bores quickly and is easily distracted. The good news is that this market is obsessive when they find what excites them. This is where we as an industry, as a hobby and as a passion are provided an advantage. The thing that ignited the passion in all of us is not broken in today’s youth. On any street, the sound of a roaring engine still turns heads. Anyone who looks at a well-built and modified, crafted vehicle would much prefer to own it over its stock counterpart. The exhilaration from acceleration is something that runs into the very genetics of who we are as human beings. The difference between today’s youth and yesterday’s comes in its proximity and frequency to these adrenaline-inducing events.

How do companies connect with this youth?

I think we’re asking the wrong question. As our market ages out at the top, how do we develop and expand the next generation of enthusiasts? How do we get them to understand and share the passion that burns in us? My answer is that we bring it to them with events; we increase the proximity and frequency with which the youth experiences our gear-driven fire, the events that sparked our own passions. I helped start an event series last year called the Street Driven Tour, born specifically of this cause. We put on display the wide range in taste and vision for show cars, we explode down dragways, we get people sideways in drift cars and we let people feel the excitement of door-to-door road-course racing. We aim to show, and more importantly, let people feel all that our industry has to offer with the belief that something will resonate. In that resonation we will create a new consumer and only then can we ask how to connect.

How did you make so many connections?

I credit a lot of our success and connections to the opportunities SEMA has provided me through its various functions and trade shows. The great thing about this industry and something that sets it apart from a lot of other industries is that we all as individuals have more in common with each other than just our industry. For most of us, we were able to turn our pastime, our hobby and our passion into our career, and that goes a long way in letting us connect and identify with one another. What allows us all to make our living also unites us in common interest.

After building your own business, what advice would you give someone chasing a new idea?

I would advise someone to never let a gifted skillset be a substitute for hard work; it’s the blend of the two that will make you successful.

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