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Installation and Gala Pays Tribute to Industry Leaders, Volunteers

By Chad Simon

Nearly 400 members of the automotive specialty-parts industry attended the 2016 SEMA Installation and Gala, themed “Leaders & Legends,” at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center in Pomona, California on July 29, to pay tribute to the specialty-equipment industry’s pioneers and dedicated volunteers. Honorees included the SEMA Hall of Fame class of 2016—Matt Agosta, Chip Foose and Gary Hooker. Dennis Pittsenbarger and Jessi Combs filled the void as emcee—a position in which the “Voice of the NHRA” Dave McClelland was entrenched for so many years.

The festivities were kicked-off by the Pinewood Drag Races—an annual fundraiser for SEMA Cares charities, including Childhelp and Victory Junction. The races are made up of Stock, Build-It-For-Me (BIFM) and Unlimited classes. Children living at the Childhelp facilities and Victory Junction campers built the vehicles for the BIFM class and donors sponsored their racecars for $95.

A reception followed shortly after the races ended, where SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting took the stage to personally recognize outgoing SEMA Board members: Jeff Bates of Bob Cook Sales and Tim Watts of Superlift Suspension, and newly elected members: Chris Douglas of COMP Performance Group and Les Rudd of Bob Cook Sales.

Here’s a look at the pinewood leaderboard:

Build It For Me Class (cars and trucks built by kids)

1st Place: Retrax (Truck)
2nd Place: Lund (Truck)
3rd Place: SEMA (Car-Mustang)

Stock Class

1st Place: Dave Williams, Go Rhino Products (Car-Mustang)
2nd Place: AAM Total Truck Centers (Truck) Honoring Hall of Fame Inductee Matt Agosta
3rd Place: AAM Performance Corner (Truck) Honoring Hall of Fame Inductee Gary Hooker

Unlimited Class

1st Place: Perfect Circle/Duffus best time 2.938 seconds
2nd Place: Motovicity Radio Flyer Wagon, second best time 3.081
3rd Place: Christopher Witherspoon, StarFire Race Plugs, third Best time 3.122

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 2016 SEMA Installation Gala.

Reception Gala  SEMA Installation Gala 
Prior to the gala program beginning, guests connected during the event’s reception, featuring live music. Themed “Leaders & Legends,” the 2016 Installation and Gala was held at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center in Pomona, California.
Dennis Pittsenbarger and Jessi Combs  SEMA Pinewood Races
The gala was emceed by industry personalities Jessi Combs (right) and Dennis Pittsenbarger.  The SEMA Pinewood Drag Races, held in conjunction with the Installation Gala, raises money for the charities supported by SEMA Cares.  
Chris Douglas  Matt Agosta 
New board members, such as Chris Douglas of COMP Performance Group (middle), are formally introduced during the gala. Flanking Douglas are SEMA President Chris Kersting (left) and SEMA Chairman of the Board Doug Evans.  2016 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Matt Agosta.
Chip Foose   Gary Hooker

2016 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Chip Foose.


2016 SEMA Hall of Fame inductee Gary Hooker.