SEMA Member News - January/February 2010 

HRIA Awards

Honoring Hot Rodders at the SEMA Show

Jerry Kugel, founder and owner of Kugel Komponents, has been a street-rod innovator and land speed competitor for more than 25 years. He was one of two inductees into the HRIA Hall of Fame for 2009.  

  Also inducted into the HRIA Hall of Fame was Art Morrison, owner of Art Morrison Enterprises and a leading manufacturer of high-quality street-rod, pro-street and drag-racing components.  
The annual Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) awards banquet was held at the Las Vegas Hilton on Wednesday evening, November 4, at the SEMA Show. This annual event is the highlight of the HRIA calendar, bringing together the council membership to celebrate the hot-rod industry. Several awards were presented during the evening.

HRIA Industry Recognition Award

Ross Ortman of Dakota Digital has been an energetic supporter of HRIA. As a member of the HRIA Select Committee for six years, Ortman oversaw the development of the “Hot Rod Industry Report” as well as the promotion of the alliance. He had a passion for automobiles and electronics from a very young age, writing many articles on electronics that would be published in hobbyist magazines. In 1991, Ortman turned his passion into a business, founding Dakota Digital. Over the years, he has grown his company to just under 50 employees and more than 40,000 sq. ft. of space in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. HRIA was proud to honor Ortman with the Industry Recognition Award in celebration of his contributions to the hot-rod industry.

HRIA Business of the Year

Lokar Inc. opened its business operations in the mid-’80s and has based its success on the ideals of quality products and service. With virtually all manufacturing in-house, Lokar offers reliability, versatility and availability in the wide variety of shifters, cables and bracket products it produces. HRIA believes that Lokar is the type of company that will help grow the hot-rod industry by providing the kinds of products its members need. In addition, Lokar represents the type of business practices HRIA members support, and so the alliance honored the company with its Business of the Year Award.

HRIA Hall of Fame

In the late ’70s, Jerry Kugel began building the first independent front suspension for street rods. By the ’90s, he added an independent rear suspension for street rods to his list of firsts. For more than 25 years, Kugel Komponents has been a leader in both front and rear suspensions for street rods, and Kugel has been a leading innovator in street rodding. He has owned several land speed records in various race cars and drove his roadster to a top speed of 225 mph in 2009. Kugel was inducted into the HRIA Hall of Fame at this year’s reception.

Art Morrison started his own street-rodding business in 1971. Working with local drag racers, he began building hot rods and has grown Art Morrison Enterprises into a leading manufacturer of high-quality street-rod, pro-street and drag-racing components. From his first ’54 Chevy hot rod to today, Morrison has always represented the best qualities of street rodding.

Industry Awards

In addition to the annual HRIA council awards, several other prestigious awards were presented at the awards banquet. Steve Coonan, publisher of The Rodder’s Journal, was presented with the NSRA Street Rod Achievement Award; Phil and Jeremy Gerber of the Roadster Shop were honored with the Goodguys Trendsetter Award; and the ISCA Legends in Hotrodding Award was bestowed upon industry
pioneer Gene Winfield.  

HRIA was proud to honor Ross Ortman (center) with the Industry Recognition Award in celebration of his contributions to the hot-rod industry. Presenting the award were HRIA Chairman Dennis Overholser and Chair-Elect Rick Love.                            HRIA honored Lokar Inc. with its Business of the Year Award. Debbie and Skip Wahls (center) accepted the award from Overholser (left) and Love.