By Todd Ryden
HRIA’s New Chair and Chair-Elect
Austin and McLeod are getting behind the wheel of a Select Committee on the move. Austin will be steering the committee through the many challenges that the industry is facing, including legislation issues, investigating counterfeit and inferior hot-rod products and providing information to help HRIA members grow their businesses.
Austin joined SEMA in 1982 as the owner of an auto parts store and machine shop and has since been involved as a manufacturer, in wholesale and retail sales and in the publishing world with several street-rod-based titles. He was on the Street Rod Market Association Select Committee when it voted to expand to post-’48 modified vehicles. (That group later evolved into the HRIA.) Austin was also instrumental when SEMA put the street-rod and custom model bills together.
“I’ve been involved with hot rods and SEMA forever, it seems,” he said. “It’s a great industry with incredible people. My number-one goal is to get more of our general membership involved in our objectives and to expand communication to the membership of these goals and plans.
“HRIA has some great programs that have advanced and grown over the last few years. Those will continue, and we’ll also be reviewing and searching for new opportunities that can help our member companies stay current on challenges in the hot-rod industry. We want to work on a program to get younger enthusiasts involved not only in street rods and hot rods, but to show them the career opportunities within our industry.”
As with most of the HRIA membership and committee members, Austin has had his share of projects, including a longtime ’57 Ford sedan delivery, and he is close to wrapping up a Deuce Tudor sedan that will see plenty of miles cruising the California roads.
McLeod, president of Classic Instruments, also brings a lot of experience to the HRIA as a business leader and an enthusiast. When he’s not working or at a show, you can find him in the staging lanes running in the NHRA Stock Eliminator class with his ’09 Drag Pac Hemi. The latest project at his office is a ’67 C-10 short-box shop truck that will be on the road this summer.
McLeod has been involved with the HRIA for 16 years and has been a committee member for six, so he is well versed in the short- and long-term goals of the group.
“Not only do we need companies to get involved with HRIA, but they need to be actively involved,” he said. “We are working on a lot of terrific projects but still need more input and direction from our members.”
One area that Austin and McLeod both want to focus on is passing the hot-rod torch to younger people.
“Our youth program, Futures in Hot Rodding, has really picked up speed, and Del and I are committed to continuing that momentum,” McLeod said. “Our committee has worked hard to create a team with attention to goals and a target to help get younger enthusiasts involved in our industry and hobby.”
Austin and McLeod are excited to fire up the HRIA and lead the committee through the challenges of the future, and Rick Love shares their enthusiasm.
“I am very proud of our accomplishments with Education Day and our revitalized Futures in Hot Rodding program that will help young people with an interest in a career in our industry get started down the right path,” he said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work with Del, John and the rest of the select committee in my advisory role as immediate past chairman.”