Scholarship Committee - Supporting the SEMA Memorial Scholarship

SEMA Member News - July/August 2009

Subfund Sponsors Help Create the Future of the Industry

SEMA Scholarship Committee members (from left) Nate Shelton, Bill Holland and Chris Phillips attended the recent Second Annual B&M/Hurst Charity Car Show held in Chatsworth, California, with Holland’s ’23 “T” Track Roadster. Proceeds from the event help support the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. (Photo Courtesy Dan Wu)


The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund helps to pay the tuition for students who plan to enter automotive careers. SEMA scholarships allow students attending various universities, colleges and/or vocational schools in both the United States and Canada to compete in today’s competitive marketplace. Since its inception in 1984, the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund has helped more than 400 students, cumulating in more than $1,000,000 in grants. Much of that financial support comes from subfund sponsors.

SEMA Memorial Scholarship subfund sponsors are individuals or companies who have made a significant contribution to the scholarship or have made a unique impact on the specialty-equipment market. Through awards in the names of each subfund sponsor, SEMA recognizes these individual’s or company’s contribution to the industry. Subfund sponsors can even designate who (e.g., a student from a specific school or a top student within a specific major, etc.) should receive the award each year.

For instance, K&N Engineering is a subfund contributor. The inventor and leading innovator of reusable cotton-gauze filter technology for automotive applications, the company has grown from humble beginnings as a family-run business more than 35 years ago to a global company with offices in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. It continues to exist as a family-owned business with an enthusiast mindset and a direct connection with motorsports that carries over throughout all levels of management and manufacturing. Today, K&N exists as both the sales and brand leader for performance filters and maintains a stocking catalog of more than 3,500 part numbers.

Another subfund is named in honor of Wally Parks. Appropriately lauded as the patriarch of the entire performance industry, Wally Parks was the first editor of Hot Rod and was the founder and CEO of the National Hot Rod Association. The beginning of hot rodding and drag racing spurred the start of an industry to serve a growing population of passionate, hands-on enthusiasts—the industry today guided by SEMA.

John B. Raffa was another journalist and innovator for whom a subfund is named. Raffa was always eager to pass along the lessons he’d learned about journalism and editing, with drag racing being the ultimate beneficiary of his largesse. By 1967, Raffa was ensconced in the then-Petersen Publishing offices of Car Craft magazine, where he quickly climbed the ladder from managing editor to editor and, ultimately, publisher. By 1985, he was back doing what he’d always done like no one else in the history of drag-racing photojournalism—teaching the younger staffers how to become not only better writers, but better reporters as well. Exciting stories about drag racing have definitely helped the sport reach a wider audience and, thanks to John Raffa, there is an increasing number of writers capable of producing them for years to come.

Mickey Thompson raced in almost every form of motorsports possible. He was the innovator of the first Sling Shot dragster, the staging lights for drag racing and water barriers for auto crash protection. He did research and development for Chevrolet and the aerospace industry and patented numerous inventions, including the wide-profile tire we use today. Gertrude “Trudy” Feller, wife of Mickey and an employee of Hot Rod magazine when the two met, was a tremendously loved member of the Thompson family and a wonderful asset to Thompson in his racing promotion career. Another subfund carries on the names of Mickey and Trudy Thompson.

Go to the full list of subfund contributors and click on the “SEMA Memorial Scholarship Subfund Sponsors” link on the right side of the page. Subfunds may be established in the amount of $25,000, but any contribution to the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund will be accepted. E-mail SEMA Director of Member Services, Nathan Ridnouer for more information or to make a contribution.

B&M/Hurst Charity Car Show Raises Scholarship Funds

The Second Annual B&M/Hurst Charity Car Show was held in Chatsworth, California, in April. Proceeds from the event were donated to the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. Thousands of spectators took in the show and about 350 vehicles were displayed. The show was populated mainly by American-made iron up to ’73 models as well as original Hurst vehicles.

The charity event supported students who plan to enter careers in automotive fields and was sponsored by a range of specialty-equipment industry companies, including Vortech, DC Performance, Andrews Powder Coating Inc., Fast Intentions, DMP Fasteners, Gear Vendors, Centerline Wheels, Energy Suspensions, Turbonetics, Power Brake Services Co., ESX Motorsports, Specter Performance and McLeod Industries.

A third annual show is in the works and is slated for April 2010. Contact Dan Wu via e-mail at for further information about timing and participation. For more information regarding the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, visit the website or e-mail SEMA Scholarships directly.