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SEMA HALL OF FAME TO INDUCT FOUR INDUSTRY ICONS
Baskerville, Art Chrisman, Chris Economaki and John Towle Top Industry Honor
Diamond Bar, Calif. (April 28, 2011) - Gray Baskerville, Art
Chrisman, Chris Economaki and John Towle will be inducted into the SEMA Hall of
Fame, an honor that recognizes an elite group of individuals for raising the
stature or growth of the automotive specialty-equipment industry.
"We're fortunate to have an
amazing group of leaders and innovators in the automotive specialty-equipment
industry," said Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Jeep Worthan. "This year's SEMA
Hall of Fame inductees exemplify the industry's remarkable talent and
diversity. It's an honor and a privilege to recognize these four deserving men
by inducting them into the SEMA Hall of Fame."
Industry professionals will
gather and pay tribute to the new SEMA Hall of Fame members at the SEMA
Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser in Long Beach, California, on
Friday, July 29, 2011. The annual gala marks the first time that the inductees
will join together and be officially introduced as SEMA Hall of Fame members.
Gray Baskerville - As
long-time editor of one of the most popular and successful automotive
magazines, Baskerville's contribution and influence on the industry are
widespread. But holding the senior editor title at Hot Rod magazine for about
30 years isn't the reason that he's being inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame.
Rather, it's the passion and sincerity that transcended from Baskerville's
writing and his ability to captivate readers that earned him the honor. Like
most, if not all, other SEMA Hall of Famers, Baskerville has a deep-seated love
for cars that clearly manifests itself in all that he did.
He drove his beloved '32
Ford roadster on a daily basis, racking up about 250,000 miles on it before he
passed away in 2002. Not one to adapt to corporate rules or aspire for the
corner office, Baskerville is equally well remembered for wearing flip-flops
and shorts in the office, as he is for his ability to captivate readers in ways
that no one else could. His writing style was so full of life and excitement
that his text was rarely changed by editors-even when he invented words that
did not exist in the dictionary. Even after he retired, Baskerville kept his
office and continued to write for both Hot Rod magazine and Rod & Custom.
Art Chrisman - Pinpointing
a single reason as to why Art Chrisman is being inducted into the SEMA Hall of
Fame is difficult. Yet, for many, it's unlikely that a reason is even needed.
Chrisman played such a key
role in the hot-rod movement that his contributions are well known by most
enthusiasts. His story is so significant that it's resulted in The Chrisman
Legacy: Always Faster, a 224-page book that chronicles the lives of the
Chrismans and their undisputable contribution to the world of motorsports.
Working at his father's Southern California auto shop in the '50s, Art knew or
raced against many of the big-name legends: Ed Iskenderian, Vic Edelbrock,
Wally Parks, Pete Petersen, Mickey Thompson, C.J. Hart, Lou Baney and many
others. Among Chrisman's many accomplishments is that he was the first drag racer
to exceed 140 and 180 mph. He was also the first to make a pass in NHRA's first
national event in 1955.
Today, the legacy
continues. Art and his son Mike work side by side at their shop, C.A.R.S.
(Chrisman Auto Rod Shop), serving as a mentor and an inspiration to today's,
and tomorrow's, hot rodder.
Chris Economaki - Go to the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and you'll find the Economaki Press Conference
Room. At the New Jersey Motorsports Park, you'll find The Chris Economaki Media
Center. And each year on the day of the Daytona 500, thousands celebrate Chris
Having served as a
motorsports commentator, pit road reporter and journalist for more than 70
years, Economaki is described as the founding father of the American
motorsports media. Many credit him for bringing auto racing to the media
forefront. Those not familiar with his name are likely to instantly recognize
his voice and the face with the horn-rimmed glasses.
Throughout his career, he
never veered away from National Speed Sport News, the weekly newsletter that he
bought and began publishing in 1950 when he was just 20 years old. Referred by
some as "the Bible of Motorsports" and by others as "America's Weekly
Motorsports Authority," National Speed Sport News reports on races throughout
the country, regardless of the series or the track. The publication ceased
printing in March 2011, but, with Economaki still intimately involved with the
publication and contributing on a daily basis, its online news will continue to
be read religiously by race fans everywhere.
John Towle - Having started
his career at Edelbrock nearly 50 years ago, John Towle knows and understands
the industry like very few. As the current executive director for the
Performance Warehouse Association (PWA), Towle has played a major part in
advancing the industry. He is often credited with bringing the PWA and SEMA
closer together, as well as for making the annual PWA Conference a huge
His dedication is
undisputed, having served as a member of the SEMA Board of Directors, as well
as on countless SEMA committees. Recognizing the importance of fostering new
talent in to the industry, Towle initiated the PWA's annual $2,000 donation to
the SEMA Scholarship Foundation.
Perhaps most noteworthy is
the impact that Towle's commitment has had on the industry. His commitment
doesn't just lead to hard work and progress. As someone who is constantly
seeking ways to improve the professionalism of the industry, he tends to
influence policy and create new programs. Under his direction, PWA created PWA
University, which provides education to any person or company in the industry,
regardless of membership. Also under his direction, PWA created an online
website to help direct customers to retailers' sites sponsored by PWA WDs and manufacturers.
The four newest SEMA Hall
of Fame members will be officially introduced for the first time at the SEMA
Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, Friday, July 29, 2011, at
Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach, California. All industry professionals are
invited to take part in the event, which is part of SEMA's Leadership Days
program and includes a sit-down dinner.
To get tickets for the SEMA Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, visit www.sema.org/GalaTix.
More details are available at www.sema.org/gala.
SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents
the $27.9 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,461 member-companies. It
is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth
information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides
appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for
passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575
S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909/396-0289, or visit www.sema.org