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Movers & Shakers: Gary Bennett Joins Austin Hatcher Foundation, Transamerican’s “Life is Better Off-Road” Award Returns for SEMA Show

Compiled by SEMA Editors

Gary Bennett

Austin Hatcher Foundation Names Gary Bennett Senior Vice President of Major Gifts

Gary Bennett, former longtime executive with Barrett-Jackson collector-car auctions, has been named the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer’s senior vice president of major gifts. In his new role, Bennett will provide support and advocacy in efforts to increase fundraising, sponsorship and overall awareness for the Austin Hatcher Foundation’s programs and services. Bennett retired from his position as Barrett-Jackson’s vice president of consignment in May. After joining the organization in 2002, Bennett led its consignment, bidder, guest services and insurance departments. He played a major role in the growth of the company’s sales while also leading the expansion of the auction event schedule. Bennett also was responsible for securing and maintaining major sponsorship deals with Ford Motor Company, General Motors (2004), Chrysler/Dodge and others. Bennett was also heavily involved in Barrett-Jackson’s charitable efforts, furthering his synergy with the Austin Hatcher Foundation. He can be reached at 480-290-3019 or at

Truck Hero Inc. Announces Acquisition of Superlift Suspension Systems

Truck Hero Inc. has announced the strategic acquisition of Superlift LLC. The transaction terms were not disclosed. This transaction marks Truck Hero’s 12th acquisition since its formation in 2007.

optima OPTIMA Batteries will present the 10th-annual OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway following the 2017 SEMA Show.

The OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational Celebrates 10 Years

OPTIMA Batteries will present the 10th-annual OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway following the 2017 SEMA Show, November 4–5. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, the top competitor in each class will be awarded a Class Cup as well and complimentary entry into a qualifying event for the 2018 OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car (OSUSC) season. Spectators are invited to watch as competitors and their vehicles are put to the test through a series of challenges, including the Lucas Oil Road Rally, Detroit Speed Autocross, Falken Tire Road Course Time Trial, PowerStop Speed Stop Challenge, and Lingenfelter Design and Engineering Challenge. Vehicles from the SEMA Show floor have the chance to be selected for a Golden Ticket to participate in the invitational. A total of 10 Golden Ticket winners will be announced at the drivers’ meeting, Thursday, November 2, at 1:30 p.m., at the OPTIMA Batteries booth #20323. Interested participants can submit their vehicle for consideration for a Golden Ticket in advance of the show via the application form, which is due Sunday, October 29. Tickets are available for $20 each.

liquid wrench
The Liquid Wrench Pro Penetrant and Lubricant, powered by FlashSight Technology, has won the Southern Aerosol Technical Association (SATA) 2017 Innovation Award. 

Liquid Wrench Earns SATA Innovation Award

The all-new Liquid Wrench Pro Penetrant and Lubricant, powered by FlashSight Technology, has won the Southern Aerosol Technical Association (SATA) 2017 Innovation Award for “Advancement in Regulatory Response.” The product earned the award for having a Zero-VOC formula and for being 18 months ahead of the changing regulatory deadline.

Wyotech Launches Alumni Association to Support Students Throughout Careers While Helping Employers Close Technical and Mechanical Skills Gap

WyoTech is launching its first alumni association to connect more than 64,000 graduates with ongoing career-development opportunities, community involvement, volunteer engagement, mentorship programs and philanthropy. WyoTech also aims to help the U.S. automotive, diesel, collision/refinishing, motorcycle and marine technology industries clear the backlog of unfilled jobs—while creating a pipeline of future applicants—by connecting employers and hiring managers with highly skilled technicians and facilitating easy networking among alumni from its three campuses. WyoTech will commence alumni association activities in January 2018. In advance, alumni attending the 2017 SEMA Show can gain a sneak peek of opportunities during a November 1 networking event and supercar driving experience at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas. The networking event is open to all WyoTech alumni to attend for free, and graduates can stop by the WyoTech booth #24181 before 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 1, to enter a drawing to win one of 20 racing spots.

While visiting WyoTech’s booth, alumni and other Show attendees also can get up-close looks at custom-built ’40 and ’56 Ford trucks, fabricated by alumni Bryan Fuller and Mikey Brown, respectively. Also in advance of the January 2018 start date for the alumni association, WyoTech is seeking nominations for the inaugural board of directors. Ideal candidates are graduates of WyoTech, leaders in their profession, committed volunteers, members of workforce boards or industry associations, and individuals who are passionate about the value of a WyoTech education. Nominations will be accepted through the end of the year and can be sent to Kristin Schneider, WyoTech AVP of alumni engagement.

Enersys will feature the “Road Hauks” custom-built Bootlegger vehicle in its ODYSSEY battery booth #24875 at the 2017 SEMA Show, October 31–November 3, in the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

EnerSys Showcases “Road Hauks” Custom-Built Bootlegger Vehicle in its ODYSSEY Battery SEMA Show Booth
EnerSys, the manufacturer of ODYSSEY batteries, will showcase the “Road Hauks” custom-built Bootlegger vehicle in its ODYSSEY battery booth #24875 at the 2017 SEMA Show, October 31–November 3, in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Featured on the History Channel’s hit show “Road Hauks,” the Bootlegger combines a ’10 Camaro SS with a custom off-road suspension to create an authentic “shine runner” vehicle for a local distillery. Lead designer Kenny Hauk and his crew stripped the vehicle completely and rebuilt it to include a custom lift kit with 35-in. tires, an all-wheel-drive system, a copper-looking exterior, a cargo hold for moonshine, a roof-mounted LED rack and a real-life smoke screen. The appearance of the Bootlegger in the ODYSSEY battery booth will be its first ever at the SEMA Show. The vehicle first appeared on “Road Hauks,” April 15, 2017.

Toyo Tires Named the Official Tire of UCLA Athletics and the Rose Bowl Stadium

Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. has announced it is now the Official Tire of UCLA Athletics and the Rose Bowl Stadium. The three-year partnership includes Toyo Tires signage inside Pauley Pavilion, at the Rose Bowl Stadium and on-site activation at select events. The brand will also be integrated into radio broadcasts for men’s football and basketball games, plus the “Bruin Insider Show,” a weekly radio show streamed online and heard locally on 570 AM. IMG, the multimedia rights holder for UCLA Athletics and the Rose Bowl, negotiated the partnership.

Rachel De Barros

Rachel De Barros to Make Multiple Appearances With Covercraft at 2017 SEMA Show

“Gearhead Diva” and “All Girls Garage” star Rachel De Barros will make guest appearances in the Covercraft booth #23343 at the 2017 SEMA Show, where she will talk cars and greet visitors, Tuesday, October 31, from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 1, from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., and Thursday, November 2, from 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. Covercraft will feature vehicles, including the wild Plymouth Air Radial Truck (P.A.R.T.), which is making its SEMA Show debut.

WELD Racing Acquires Forgestar Performance Wheels

WELD Racing has acquired Forgestar Performance Wheels in a merger designed to strategically position both brands for a stronger future in the custom, tuner and boutique aftermarket wheel industry. Forgestar Performance Wheels will retain its Anaheim, California, location and continue with its custom-flow-forming technology that bridges the gap between forged and cast wheels.

Paul Conibear

Paul Conibear Joins E-ZOIL as Company’s Newest Regional Sales Manager

E-ZOIL has announced the hiring of Paul Conibear as the company’s newest regional sales manager. Conibear will report to Bill Morgan, national sales manager for E-ZOIL, and will cover the six states of New England, along with Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Conibear has owned and operated his own trucking firm, Conibear Trucking LLC, since 2004. He also has experience as an outside sales representative for Boyles Motors, an international parts and service truck dealer.

The 2016 winner was Daystar’s 720hp, ’41 Dodge Power Wagon “Bootlegger.”

Transamerican’s “Life is Better Off-Road” Award Returns for 2017 SEMA Show

Now in its third year, Transamerican Auto Parts’ (TAP) “Life is Better Off-Road” SEMA builder award will return to the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. This distinction is awarded to the best presented, truly off-road-capable truck, Jeep or SUV on display at the Show. The 2016 winner, Daystar’s 720hp, ’41 Dodge Power Wagon “Bootlegger,” was distinguished as a beautifully crafted machine that was a more-than-capable off-road vehicle. The Bootlegger was chosen from among hundreds of submissions by a carefully selected panel of leading industry authorities at the 2016 SEMA Show in a ceremony hosted by Supercross and off-road racing champion Ricky Johnson. The “Life is Better Off-Road” award is open to all off-road vehicle builders and product manufacturers on display at the SEMA Show, and will again be judged by an elite panel of the off-road industry’s leading authorities. The panel will select 10 semi-finalists from the submitted entries based on such criteria as off-road reliability and capability, real-world functionality, quality of craftsmanship and overall vehicle presentation. The panel will then choose one Jeep and one truck/SUV as the two finalists to be considered for recognition as the most authentic off-road-capable vehicle at the SEMA Show. The award, a custom designed trophy, will be presented by Transamerican Auto Parts President and CEO Greg Adler, Thursday, November 2, at 2:00 p.m., in the Pro Comp/Transamerican Auto Parts Booth #62112 within the SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience Area (Located outside of the South Hall in the Silver Lot). To submit your off-road SEMA display vehicle for award consideration, visit Completed entries should be submitted to by October 27, 2017.

VP Racing Fuels and Keystone Automotive Join to Increase Breast Cancer Awareness

VP Racing Fuels and Keystone Automotive have joined together to help increase breast cancer awareness and continue efforts to find a cure. During the month of October, Keystone will donate $1 from the sale of every pink VP Racing container sold toward the Susan G. Komen organization. In return, VP will make a matching contribution at the end of the month to increase the contribution.

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