SEMA Awards Gala Set to Honor 2022 Hall of Fame Inductees
The Annual Celebration Will Take Place July 29 in Anaheim, California
By Mike Imlay
This year’s annual SEMA Awards Gala is slated for Friday, July 29, at the new Westin Anaheim Resort in Anaheim, California. The event will put the 2022 SEMA Hall of Fame inductees front and center in an evening of celebration.
SEMA leadership, volunteers and industry icons are set to honor the association’s new Hall of Fame inductees at the 2022 SEMA Awards Gala on Friday, July 29, in Anaheim, California. Renamed for 2022, the event will take place at the Westin Anaheim Resort.
“The SEMA Awards Gala is among our association’s most anticipated events,” said SEMA CEO Mike Spagnola. “The past two years have demonstrated the importance of in-person celebrations, so we are especially proud to gather this year as an industry to honor our 2022 Hall of Fame inductees.”
Formerly known as the SEMA Installation Banquet & Gala, the SEMA Awards Gala is a long-established tradition where individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the specialty-equipment industry are recognized. For 46 years, the reception and dinner have served as the formal event where new SEMA Hall of Fame inductees are introduced, the incoming Board of Directors is sworn in, and outgoing directors are thanked. SEMA council, network and industry leaders are also recognized during the event.
“We’re excited that our summer gala is returning to Southern California, and even more excited at the event’s rebranding as the SEMA Awards Gala to amplify our Hall of Fame celebration,” said SEMA Special Events Director Jamie Eriksen. “This year’s venue, the Westin Anaheim, is a brand-new hotel in the city that recalls the roots of past SEMA events, including early SEMA Shows. I feel like this is a homecoming that is bringing together the industry family.”
This gala also represents yet another milestone as the industry continues to put the pandemic lockdowns in the rearview mirror. In 2021, the in-person gathering returned after a year’s hiatus, drawing 400 industry professionals and friends. It was held in the recently completed West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center as a show of support for the city and facilities where the 2021 SEMA Show would later be held.
“The 2021 event was actually one of the largest galas we’ve had,” Eriksen said. “People were very excited for the opportunity to reconnect in person, and we expect this year’s gala to follow in that same vein of excitement. The opportunity to connect face-to-face with others is so important, because there’s a lot of deep friendships in our industry. This year I feel like we’re riding on last year’s momentum and continuing to move forward as we look toward the coming year.”
The gala also caps a week of strategic planning sessions for SEMA’s Board of Directors as well as council and network leaders. The high-level meetings serve to identify industry needs and priorities and shape the association’s initiatives to address them. After the week’s business, however, the mood will turn celebratory on Friday afternoon with a private event for the 2022 Hall of Famers prior to the gala. Later, the official SEMA Awards Gala will kick off with an industry reception starting at 6:00 p.m., followed by the awards banquet at 7:00 p.m.
“The main focus will of course be on our Hall of Famers and their lifelong accomplishments,” Eriksen said. “In addition, we will recognize incoming and outgoing Board members as well as our volunteer leaders.”
SEMA friends and family share their common passion for the industry each year during a cocktail reception, followed by a dinner highlighting the lifetime achievements of the incoming Hall of Fame class.
Induction into SEMA’s Hall of Fame is among the association’s highest honors and is reserved to entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who have played crucial roles in the advancement of the association and the industry it serves. Leaders, innovators and creators, they epitomize the essence of ingenuity in action.
To carefully select its honorees, SEMA designates a Hall of Fame Task Force whose leader is appointed by the association’s Chairman of the Board. The task force accepts nominations from industry peers, then narrows down the slate to one to four names through several rounds of voting. Ultimately, the finalists are presented to the SEMA Board of Directors for approval.
“This year, for the first time ever, the second round of voting was opened electronically to all existing Hall of Famers,” noted Chris Standifer, SEMA project manager for recognition programs. “The participation of these veterans was incredibly special. Among them was Ed Iskendarian, the founder of Isky Racing Cams, who turned 100 last July and was honored with a birthday tribute at the 2021 gala. His daughter-in-law Norma helped him go over all the nominee documentation and cast his Hall of Fame votes digitally, and I’m told he really enjoyed that opportunity.”
Racing for Charity
The Pinewood Drags in support of SEMA Cares, the association’s charitable arm, represent a time-honored gala tradition. Race participants sponsor a Pinewood race car or challenge industry colleagues in head-to-head competition to help raise funds for children’s causes.
Another cherished gala tradition is the annual SEMA Cares Pinewood Drags fundraiser in support of SEMA Cares, the association’s charitable arm. Returning for 2022, the races offer industry participants the chance to sponsor a child-built Pinewood race car or challenge industry colleagues in head-to-head competition. The races will run throughout the Friday reception and into the evening.
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 Drags competition is the annual Industry Cup Challenge (ICC), where boasting rights run high. Entry in the ICC competition set at $1,000 per company.
“The many children that SEMA Cares supports need our help more than ever,” said Kathryn Reinhardt, SEMA Cares chairperson. “It’s been extraordinary to see the SEMA membership step up and provide donations that translate into opportunities for children in need. I am proud of what the SEMA Cares committee has done this past year by raising more than $250,000. I can’t wait to top that record again this year.”
With the 2022 SEMA Awards Gala’s heightened focus on SEMA Hall of Fame inductees, friendly but spirited Pinewood Drags competition and the promise of industry camaraderie, Eriksen believes all the elements are in place for an unforgettable experience.
The gala is open to every SEMA member, but tickets go quickly. With anticipation for the Anaheim event running high, now is the time to reserve your place at the table.
“We have every anticipation that this event will be another testament to people’s enthusiasm for being together again,” she said. “The gala is one of our association’s most important gatherings, and engagement always runs high. It’s an event that every association member can enjoy, and we look forward to seeing a lot of new faces alongside the familiar ones.”
Join the Celebration!
Tickets to the 2022 SEMA Awards Gala are available to all SEMA members and can be purchased by visiting www.sema.org/gala. (Please note that, although the gala is open to the entire association, seating is limited.)
If you’d like to sponsor a SEMA Cares Pinewood Drags race car or challenge a colleague, please make your donation today. Visit www.sema.org/semacares for more information.