SEMA News—July 2021


The Iconic SEMA Installation Gala Returns

Get Set for the July Celebration in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s New West Hall

By Mike Imlay

In a departure from past SEMA Installation Galas, the setting
for this year’s gathering will be the massive new West Hall of
the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The venue was
chosen to underscore SEMA’s ties with the city and the
LVCC—and offer the industry a preview of the big things to
come in November.

SEMA leadership, volunteers and industry icons are set to gather in Las Vegas for the 2021 SEMA Installation Gala on Friday, July 30. To underscore the significance of SEMA’s return to in-person events, the evening gala will take place in the new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), the same venue where thousands of industry professionals will congregate for the 2021 SEMA Show in November.

“SEMA has a deep history and connection with the city of Las Vegas,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO. “We could not be more excited about celebrating the industry in Las Vegas and christening the West Hall with such a noteworthy event.”

The SEMA Installation Gala is a long-established tradition where individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the industry are honored and celebrated. Since 1976, the SEMA Installation Gala has served as the formal gathering where new SEMA Hall of Fame inductees are introduced, the incoming Board of Directors are recognized, and outgoing Directors are thanked. SEMA council, network and industry leaders are also recognized during the event.

Each year, the inductions of new SEMA Hall of Fame members
are among the evening’s most poignant moments. At the last in-
person gala held in 2019, legendary performance-parts
innovator Bruce Crower was inducted posthumously. His wife
Barbara (center, standing) accepted the honor on his behalf.

The move marks the first time in its 45-year history that the gala has been held outside the Southern California area where SEMA is headquartered. In fact, the gala of about 400 individuals will represent several “firsts.” It will be among the first events held in the LVCC West Hall since construction of the 1.4-million-sq.-ft. facility was completed in January. Plus it will become SEMA’s first mass gathering to take place in more than a year.

“I look forward to the SEMA Installation Gala each year—even more so this year than any other year, since it will be a reunion for our industry’s friends and family,” Kersting said. “The SEMA Installation Gala is important to the association, the members and the industry, and it’s about much more than just introducing new Hall of Fame members or recognizing our Board of Directors. The event is about community, family and celebrating with people who share a common passion and love for the industry.”

“This year’s gala is especially meaningful,” agreed SEMA Senior Director of Special Events Jamie Eriksen. “The themes of industry, community and family will be front and center. After a year of being apart, we’re inviting the industry to come together. The highlight is on people, their volunteerism and their industry contributions. We want to recognize their achievements and hopefully inspire others to become more involved with the association and make a difference for our industry.”

The theme of volunteerism will again be front and center
Friday, July 30, with the inauguration of new SEMA Board of
Directors members, recognition of outgoing board members,
and a celebration of the people who give their time to industry
initiatives. Pictured here are SEMA Cares committee members
and charity partners at the last in-person gala in 2019.

A Symbolic Move

Eriksen added that gala organizers couldn’t have asked for a better venue than the LVCC West Hall.

“We’ve been given the opportunity to showcase this amazing new addition to the LVCC, and we’re excited to introduce our industry to it,” she said. “Secondly, it’s symbolic of the fact that Las Vegas is ready for business, open and able to accommodate, meetings and events, so we’re also excited to be working with them to produce our first ‘post-pandemic’ event in this new space. The city and convention center have been important partners for more than 40 years, and we look forward to showing our support as they reopen for business.”

Because the gala is taking place as the nation reemerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Eriksen said that SEMA’s event team will remain conscious of the environment. The goal is to create a welcoming atmosphere where the industry can safely celebrate.

“Health and safety have always been priorities for SEMA, and we take them seriously in every event we do,” Eriksen said. “With the pandemic, there’s a heightened sensitivity to those issues. SEMA will continue to work with local health and safety agencies to ensure that the event reflects current health standards in Las Vegas.”

The gala wouldn’t be the same without the annual SEMA
Cares Pinewood Drags fundraiser in which participants can
sponsor a race car or challenge industry colleagues in head-
to-head competition to benefit SEMA Cares charities. The
races will make their in-person comeback in the West Hall

The Race Is On!

Being a night of camaraderie, the gala wouldn’t be the same without the annual SEMA Cares Pinewood Drags fundraiser in which participants can sponsor a Pinewood race car or challenge industry colleagues in head-to-head competition. A signature event combining charitable giving, community, automotive passion and youthful spirit, the Pinewood Drags will return as a fun way to contribute to SEMA Cares, the association’s charitable arm.

SEMA Cares helps to significantly improve the lives of many in need through donations to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for pediatric cancer, Childhelp for the prevention and treatment of child abuse, and Victory Junction camp for children with serious medical conditions.

Sponsorships for a race car in the Build-It-For-Me category are just $95. Of course, the peak of the Pinewood Drags competition is the annual Industry Cup Challenge, where boasting rights run high. This year, the racing will take place in the West Hall lobby, with entry in the Industry Cup Challenge competition set at $1,000 per company.

“The children that SEMA Cares supports truly need our help,” said Kathryn Reinhardt, SEMA Cares chairperson. “With the return of the Pinewood Drags to the SEMA Installation & Gala, I hope that this year we can raise more money than ever.”

“Absolutely no donation is too small,” added Lindsay Bianco, SEMA senior manager of membership projects. “Last year was certainly difficult, and fundraising was not top-of-mind for many people, so it will be good to rally together again in support of the children’s charities we serve.”

Las Vegas has been steadily moving toward a full reopening and has adopted the latest best practices for large gatherings. The 2021 Installation Gala planners are working closely with state and local partners to ensure a safe and healthy evening of networking and celebration.

Las Vegas has been steadily moving toward a full reopening and has adopted the latest best practices for large gatherings. The 2021 Installation Gala planners are working closely with state and local partners to ensure a safe and healthy evening of networking and celebration.

High Anticipation

Eriksen agreed that there is a growing sense of anticipation for this year’s gala and all the activities surrounding it. Additionally, she sees the evening as a harbinger of the enthusiasm that’s already building for the return of a live SEMA Show in November. According to Eriksen, each event in its own way reflects the passion and interpersonal connections at the heart of the industry.

“For me, the SEMA Installation Gala is especially important this year,” she said. “We’ve always seen it as our mid-year gathering before gearing up for the SEMA Show in the fall. With the COVID-19 situation this past year, I think the members of our industry are craving the opportunity to reconnect with each other more than ever, and this event in particular is like a family gathering for the industry. It’s a little more relaxed than, say, November during the Show. A lot of meaningful connections and conversations can happen, and I think people are really looking forward to that.”

The gala is open to every SEMA member, but tickets go quickly.
With anticipation for a resumed in-person event running high,
now is the time to reserve your place at the table.
Join the Celebration!

Tickets to the 2021 SEMA Installation Gala, which are available to all SEMA members, can be purchased by visiting (Please note that, although the gala is open to the entire association, seating is limited.)

QRIf you’d like to sponsor a SEMA Cares Pinewood Drags race car or challenge a colleague, please make your donation today. Visit for more information.

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