SEMA Member News - January/February 2010

SBN Honors Announced

Athena, Woman of the Year, Mentor of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards Presented at SEMA Show

Lyn St. James, recipient of the 2009 Athena Award. 

The annual SEMA Speed Networking Breakfast—Powered by the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN), has become one of the favorite events at the SEMA Show. This year’s attendance, similar to years past, showed the popularity of the combined awards breakfast with a concluding speed networking activity that allows attendees to meet in multiple consecutive quick introductions. After opening remarks by SBN Chair Tammy Holland of  Competition Cams and Chair-Elect Marla Moore of Hypertech Inc., four prestigious awards were presented before an expectant crowd. The awards included Lifetime Achievement, Athena, Woman of the Year and Mentor of the Year.

The Athena Award is presented annually by the SBN to a SEMA member (person or company) that has made outstanding contributions to the professional development of women in the automotive specialty-equipment industry. The award is named after the Greek goddess of wisdom and was established in 1994. The nominees for the 2009 award were Lauren Fix, Classic Tube; Vic Edelbrock, Edelbrock Corp.; Mark Heffington, Hypertech Inc.; Keystone Automotive Operations Inc.; Michael Rao, R&R Marketing; Lyn St. James; and Dick Dixon, Indiana University/Purdue University. The Athena Award winner was Lyn St. James.

St. James. is a retired professional IndyCar driver with eight CART and five Indy Racing League starts to her credit. She is one of only five women who successfully qualified for the Indy 500, and she was the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. She has served as a sports commentator for ESPN/ESPN2 and other cable programs and is active on numerous nonprofit boards. Named by Sports Illustrated Women as one of the top 100 Women Athletes of the Century, she has achieved victories both on and off the track that have translated into new opportunities for women in motorsports.

The nominees for the 2009 Woman of the Year award included Jean Ayson, Pro Motion Distribution; Laurel Dasher, Superchips Inc.; Linda Davis, Weathers Auto Supply; Bernice Sanders, Source Interlink Media; and Linda Vaughn. The award was presented to Laurel Dasher.


Laurel Dasher, 2009 SBN Woman of the Year.   

The director of sales for SuperChips Inc., Dasher is well known by SEMA members for her dedication to the achievement of women in the aftermarket, as evidenced by her representation on the SEMA Board of Directors (2009–2011) and past service as SEMA Young Executives Network (YEN) chairman (2007–2009). Dedicated to growth through higher education, she earned an executive MBA degree and showed an early commitment to serving the industry at large through her work as co-chair of the SEMA Mentoring Program—Powered by the SBN, serving as the subcommittee chair for SEMA Cares and chairing the Warehouse Distributor of the Year task force. Dasher is an excellent example to all women in the industry, proving that doors will open if you have the dedication, energy and drive to pursue your professional dreams.

SBN also presented its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award to Linda Vaughn, considered by many to be the First Lady of Motorsports. Vaughn may well be the most traveled ambassador of motorsports in the United States, visiting more race tracks, racing events and racing honorariums than anyone in the sport. She is in demand because generations of people—both men and women—have searched her out in a crowd. She has a singular way of bringing focus to a worthwhile cause or person. This was most apparent during a tour of military bases in Vietnam, when she accompanied Don Garlits and Richard Petty to encourage the troops.

Vaughn began her career as a beauty queen in 1961. She carried the title of Miss Pontiac the following year, and she soon won a national contest for the coveted role of Miss Hurst Golden Shifter. With a passion for motorsports, she parlayed her role of beauty queen into that of a spokesperson for the industry and has spent her life participating in the events and milestones that have shaped the industry.

Vaughn’s lifetime achievements were honored in 1998 by SEMA with a special citation during the association’s “Salute to the American Automotive Performance & Motorsports Industry” program in Washington, D.C. She is a respected member of the SEMA Hall of Fame, and the SBN was honored to present her with the first SBN Lifetime Achievement Award.


Jason Bruce, the 2009 SBN Mentor of the Year.  

The SBN was also pleased to introduce another new award—one that recognizes the efforts of mentors who provide real-world advice to those who participate in the SEMA Mentoring Program—Powered by the SBN. The 2009 Mentor of the Year nominees included Luanne Brown, eTool Developers; Jason Bruce, Advanced Flow Engineering; Anne Johnson, Keystone Automotive; and Tom Marx, The Marx Group. The Mentor of the Year award was presented to Jason Bruce.

Bruce is the marketing manager for gas applications for Advanced Flow Engineering. He has served as YEN chair and was honored with that group’s Young Executive of the Year award. As YEN chair, he worked to restructure the network’s Select Committee into smaller task forces—an organizational structure that has been readily adopted by other SEMA committees and councils, allowing them to be more productive and to improve communications. Bruce was also instrumental in the restructuring of the Mentoring Program and showed his dedication from the onset by signing up to serve as a mentor. Bruce’s mentee said: “Jason is more than an adviser, but our relationship has evolved into true friendship. He is what mentoring is all about. He lends a hand to anyone who asks.” (To see why Bruce is exceptional in this role, go to

The SBN membership offers its congratulations to all of the 2009 nominees for the Athena, Woman of the Year and Mentor of the Year awards. A full list of the nominees along with nominations criteria can be found on the SBN homepage.



SBN Breakfast Sponsors—Thanks for Your Support

The following companies provided sponsorships for the SBN Speed Networking Breakfast.
  • Platinum Sponsors


  • Gold Sponsors
    Superior Transmission
    Competition Performance Group
    Advanced Clutch Technology
    Keystone Automotive Inc.
    Edgenet/Big Hammer


  • Silver Sponsors

    E3 Spark Plugs
    Martin & Company Advertising
    R&R Marketing
    Source Interlink Media, Brit White
    Toyota Motor Sales
    Weathers Auto Supply
    Skyjacker Suspension
    Hypertech Inc.
    Eaton Detroit Spring
    Classic Tube
    Moto Feet