HRIA Spotlights the Best of the Hot-Rod Industry

SEMA Member News—January 2019

HRIA Spotlights the Best of the Hot-Rod Industry

  '67 GTOThis ’67 GTO convertible built by Corey Williams of Williams Performance was displayed at the 2018 HRIA Reception.

If you’re a hot-rod builder, securing a coveted spot in the annual Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) feature vehicle program is a lot like winning a lottery. That’s because, of the many applications received, a mere 10 one-of-a-kind rods end up selected for display at the SEMA Show. And of those, only three—including one that’s officially “unveiled” for the first time—earn featured spots in the booth jointly shared in Hot Rod Alley by HRIA and the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO). Six of the remaining vehicles are displayed during the annual HRIA awards reception, while one is placed in a high-profile spot elsewhere at the Show.

But how do these vehicles get there in the first place? There is a process. HRIA begins accepting applications at each Show for the following year. Builders can also apply online at by clicking on the link to the feature vehicle program.

Once applications start flowing in, an HRIA task force begins the time-consuming task of vetting applications, visiting shops when convenient, spending hours not only evaluating individual vehicles but also how to best represent the different genres of hot-rod builds, both in the booth and at the reception. They also strive to include builds from both veteran and newcomer builders.

Case in point: A ’67 GTO convertible built by Corey Williams of Williams Performance—one of the regional winners in the Young Guns segment of SEMA’s Battle of the Builders competition—was displayed at the 2018 HRIA reception. Williams’ selection was tied directly to HRIA’s Futures in Hot Rodding initiative, which helps to educate young people about the industry and potential career opportunities.

Boosting Builders and Manufacturers

HRIA Booth SEMA ShowSix feature vehicles were displayed in the shared HRIA and ARMO booth during the 2018 SEMA Show.  

Over the years, the program has also helped to jumpstart many a career for past builders. Given the high visibility and opportunities for media exposure at the Show, builders have been recognized with the industry’s top awards. Among them, Ford Best of Show, the Gran Turismo Award and the GM Design Award. This past year, veteran builder Bobby Alloway garnered a Ford Design Award for his ’58 Edsel, which was featured in the ARMO/HRIA booth.

Another veteran builder, Josh Henning of Roadster Shop, has been involved with HRIA since he was affiliated with Goolsby Customs. In 2009, the company submitted a build to the feature vehicle program. Now a select committee member, Henning sees the benefits of the program as well as involvement in HRIA.

“We had a ’67 Chevelle in 2009, and it really launched things from there, career-wise,” Henning said. “HRIA was completely new to us, and we joined at that point. It’s a win-win.”

But builders aren’t the only ones who benefit from participating in the HRIA feature vehicle program. Besides helping up-and-coming builders like Williams put their businesses on the map, the program also shines a light on parts manufacturers.

The eye-catching vehicle builds are handpicked by the HRIA select committee to highlight the vastness of the aftermarket and the variety of products available for building and restoring vehicles. For manufacturers whose products are featured front and center on the rods displayed in and around the Show, it presents a high-visibility opportunity to not only showcase product diversity but also to garner plenty of attendee attention and media exposure.

About HRIA

HRIA is dedicated to addressing the challenges facing the hot-rod segment of the automotive aftermarket and to preserving and promoting that part of the industry. HRIA’s primary objectives are to ensure the future prosperity of the hot-rod industry and to advance and promote awareness of the hobby. Within that context, HRIA focuses on industry-specific issues, developing effective strategies and programs that will assist members in improving their business practices and procedures.

HRIA also works with SEMA’s legislative staff to address legislative and/or regulatory matters that may affect the hot-rod industry, and it provides a forum through participation in Hot Rod Alley, a special SEMA Show section, which allows member companies to take advantage of new business and marketing opportunities.

All entities serving the hot-rod market, be they manufacturers, builders, fabricators, dealers, car clubs or enthusiast publications, may benefit from getting involved with HRIA. Once involved with the council, members work through subcommittees to focus on the group’s educational, legislative and communications needs as well as membership and promotional activities.

HRIA invites all members of the hot-rod industry to unite in meeting its critical goals. To become active in HRIA, your company must first be a SEMA member. If you are already a SEMA member, contact Jim Skelly via email at to get started.

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