Thu, 06/01/2023 - 16:32

SEMA News—June 2023


The Future of ICE

By Mike Imlay

Can internal-combustion engines stay relevant in an EV world? (Hint: the answer is yes).

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the internal-combustion engine's imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, we've all seen the headlines. For the past several years, all major automakers have announced ambitious electric vehicle (EV) goals to do their part in warding off climate change. Plus, stung by rising fuel costs, more and more consumers are opting for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). But let's look at the facts.

It's certainly true that from the European Union (EU) to the United States, the race to curtail and even phase out ICE vehicles is on. The Biden Administration has made no secret that it sees full vehicle electrification as an essential step in carbon reduction. As of press time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was said to be finalizing even more stringent limits on light-vehicle tailpipe emissions.

The internal-combustion engine is far from dead, and motorsports and aftermarket performance companies will play a key role in making ICE vehicles environmentally sound for decades to come. Photo courtesy of Motul

The internal-combustion engine is far from dead, and motorsports and aftermarket performance companies will play a key role in making ICE vehicles environmentally sound for decades to come.  
Photo courtesy of Motul.

Of course, in America, politics are also local. California and 16 other states have either banned or are moving to ban some or all ICE-powered vehicles. (California's ICE ban, which takes full effect in 2035, applies to new-vehicle sales only.) A few U.S. cities and counties are even weighing limits or total bans on gas stations, although other states and localities are pushing back and severing themselves from California's zero-emissions targets.

Apart from legislation, market incentives also play a major role in the OEM drive toward an electrified future. For one, EV programs attract capital investors. Plus, EVs require fewer parts, meaning manufacturers can streamline sourcing, production, labor forces and their associated costs. But despite this and all the media hype, there are signs that a new realism is setting in.

Reality Check

In December 2022, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda caused a stir when he openly questioned an EV-only strategy in the quest for carbon-neutral automobiles. In remarks made to reporters in Thailand, Toyoda argued that a sound strategy should include hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Identifying himself as among a "silent majority" within the auto industry, Toyoda was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying, "That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option. But they think it's the trend so they can't speak out loudly."

Other automakers appear to share this viewpoint. Porsche recently announced that it had powered a 911 with a new e-fuel developed from air and water. Produced in Chile by the Highly Innovative Fuels company, the fuel is made by capturing atmospheric carbon and combining it with hydrogen taken from water to create methane. The fuel can be used in virtually any ICE vehicle, and Porsche plans to continue experimenting with such alternatives.

Meanwhile, while remaining committed to its growing EV program, General Motors has tempered its sales targets, citing challenges with battery production. And earlier this year, Ford disclosed that it expected to lose $3 billion on its EV program in 2023—news that The Wall Street Journal called "a reminder of how far traditional auto makers have to go in turning their EV portfolios profitable."

Amid their stated commitment to electrification, automakers continue to roll out IC engines. Hydrogen, propane, hybrid applications and e-fuel alternatives will help ensure an ICE future for motorsports, long-distance drivers, farmers and commercial truckers.

Amid their stated commitment to electrification, automakers continue to roll out IC engines. Hydrogen, propane, hybrid applications and e-fuel alternatives will help ensure an ICE future for motorsports, long-distance drivers, farmers and commercial truckers.

Even the environmentally hardline EU seems to be rethinking its stance. Responding to resistance from member-states Germany, Italy and Poland, the EU recently modified a total ban on ICE vehicles by 2035 to allow for those running on synthetic fuels.

According to SEMA Market Research Director Gavin Knapp, the simple truth is that ICE-powered vehicles will be with us for a long time to come. "The thing to keep in mind about EVs is when people talk about them being 50%-100% of the market, they're talking about new-vehicle sales, which will still be a small portion of the vehicles on the road," he observed. "Even if production were to ramp up really fast in 2030, EVs would still only represent 15% to maybe 20% of vehicles in operation."

Moreover, major obstacles remain to widespread EV adoption, including building the required infrastructure and, more importantly, gaining consumer acceptance. Lately, mainstream publications have been rife with stories of consumer frustrations with EV range and towing capacities, not to mention charging options. For these and other reasons, SEMA Market Research projects that by 2035, EVs will account for a mere 39% of OEM new-vehicle sales.

Aftermarket Opportunities

Given all the above, many specialty-equipment manufacturers say their long-term plans call for continued investment in ICE applications. They envision further refinements in engine performance, efficiency and emissions reduction. In fact, some futurists believe that by 2035 the total carbon footprint of an ICE vehicle may nearly match that of an EV—especially when you factor in the rare-earth mining, spent battery disposal and other not-so-eco-friendly activities associated with electrification.

"The automotive aftermarket, for as long as it's been around, has driven innovation—specifically towards efficiency around the internal-combustion engine," said Ian Lehn, Boostane owner and former chair of the SEMA Emerging Trends and Technology Network (ETTN). "I look at vehicle technology as a spectrum, and no one technology is going to be the silver bullet for our transportation demands."

Lehn's specific interest is in developing e-fuels, which he believes offer an ideal carbon-reducing solution for the millions of ICE vehicles that will remain in operation for decades to come. "I enjoy synthetic fuels because I think they're a fresh perspective on the internal combustion engine, which still has a lot of capability for gains and efficiency, offsetting its carbon footprint, and being a continued option for long-haul trucking and driving and more," he said.

The problem, he said, is that the current focus on EVs discourages the investment needed to make e-fuels viable. "A lot of the advancement and innovation has come from private industry," he explained. "There haven't been any huge, sweeping subsidies from the government. You know, just use this credit card when you go to pay at the gas station, and you'll get $3 back. I mean, it's expensive, but so were electric vehicles when they first came out. But the government subsidized them to make them affordable. E-fuels haven't been able to enjoy that type of favorable treatment, so adoption has been slow."

Ultimately, Lehn believes an electrification-only stance inhibits real progress toward carbon reduction. "If people put blinders on and say we need to just grind ahead on only EVs, and we leave all of these internal-combustion engines to continue to operate at current efficiencies, it's going to be a bigger issue down the road," he asserts.

Equally frustrating, he adds, is that those working to refine ICE vehicles are often painted as anti-EV and anti-environment. But that stereotype doesn't fit many like Lehn, who loves performance and technology across the board. "I think that EVs have a prominent place in our future," he observed. "I also think hybrid vehicles are an incredibly sustainable solution versus plug-ins or pure battery electric vehicles. I think the BEV is going to be an incredibly wonderful solution for urban and metropolitan scenarios for lowering noise pollution, smog and things like that."

Taking the Long View

In fact, many of the aftermarket's biggest players have programs for a variety of propulsion systems.

"From MAHLE's perspective, having the dual strategy that we do allows us to be on the cutting edge of everything that's going on with electric," said Joe Maylish, sales and program manager for the MAHLE Motorsports North American division. "We are a transportation company, and we're on the cutting edge of ICE, and we're right there learning and being on the cutting edge of electric."

 Higher efficiency means cleaner performance, so perfecting every ICE component will be critical to sustainability. Pictured is a modern MAHLE small-block Chevy 23-degree piston dome, complete with gas ports and a GRAFAL skirt coating for cushioning.

Higher efficiency means cleaner performance, so perfecting every ICE component will be critical to sustainability. Pictured is a modern MAHLE small-block Chevy 23-degree piston dome, complete with gas ports and a GRAFAL skirt coating for cushioning.

Maylish points to the recent GM introduction of a new small-block Chevrolet engine as a sign of ICE viability. "You know, that takes a lot of commitment and a lot of belief. And they have a lot of very smart people working over there that are looking ahead in the future of what's going to be the best mobility out there for the customer."

Moreover, he sees motorsports as the ideal proving ground for engineering innovations that can make ICE vehicles leaner and greener--and there are plenty of ICE components to work on.

"Within motorsports, [MAHLE is] still actively working with OEs to manufacture pistons and rings for their programs," he noted. "It seems that [work] has been maintaining and not decreasing in volume—so we're very happy to see that.

Nor should anyone underestimate the industry's ability to rise to environmental challenges. "Just think about a diesel engine in the 1970s and its efficiency compared to what we have today, with so many more of them in operation, and just how much cleaner they are and how much more efficient they are," he remarked.

According to Jack Roush Jr., ROUSH Performance vice president of marketing, his company has also taken a diversified approach to vehicle propulsion for some time now. While ROUSH is well known for its performance division, its biggest business is the engineering services it provides to major automotive brands, the military and other industries.

"Along with our IC engine development, which we're very well known for, we've been in the EV space for 20 plus years, and alternative fuels as well," he explained.

In the latter category, the ROUSH Cleantech product division produces propane conversion kits to help fleets lower their emissions." Those are primarily for school buses and delivery vehicles," he said, noting that there is a new propane fuel coming out for such ICE applications. "It's cleaner, that is, even when comparing it to EV, it does an even better job."

On the performance side, Roush said the company continues to refine supercharging and other technologies requiring California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification. "Thinking about the future for automotive, things are becoming more difficult because of certification and the complexity of vehicles," he conceded. "We could look at that and think there's not much opportunity. But I think there's tremendous opportunity for bringing performance to vehicles."

"I'm very passionate about the gas engine myself," Roush declared. "There's a certain life that a breathing engine that gets its power from explosions has—it's almost like a living animal… It will be interesting to see how the enthusiast culture changes over time. Will they adapt more? I think it's a little premature to say which way it's going to go."

SEMA Director of Vehicle Technology Luis Morales closely monitors trends across various automotive segments. He said the trucking industry is increasingly exploring hydrogen technologies as more viable alternatives to electrification.

"They understand that you can't run multiple applications in their industry with batteries," he observed. "When you talk about the amount of battery power that they would require, the storage for those batteries, and then the payloads placed on top of that, it just doesn't make sense. And you would need so much infrastructure for their routes to make it happen."

He added that hydrogen technologies can be found in both EV and ICE applications. "In terms of a fuel cell, it's really using hydrogen to power an electric motor. And then you look at other work that's being done on the hydrogen front, like internal-combustion engines run by hydrogen. Your output there is only water with some NOx due to heat. But nonetheless, we could still progress into the future with internal-combustion engines, making them cleaner."

"For shorter routes, EV makes sense for passenger vehicles," Morales predicted, agreeing with the other sources that SEMA News interviewed for this story. "But for other needs you have to look at other options, like hydrogen technology, that can take you across the country and not have to rely so much on infrastructure. I think at the end of the day, it's going to be a really nice balance between all of the different options that are out there."

If you're in a heavily urbanized and regulated region like California, it's easy to get the impression the automotive landscape is rapidly electrifying, mused Nolan Browning, Motul North American marketing manager. "But I think once you branch outside of the big cities, it's pretty apparent that while growing for sure, EVs are a small percentage. Combustion is still being used pretty heavily."

"In motorsports too, which has always been our background and focus, I think there's always going to be a demand for [ICE] racing," he continued. "I think there will be a world, obviously, with electrification and testing that technology in motorsports. But especially in the vintage races which we're all involved with, the hobby is not going to go away. There's still going to be gasoline certainly for the next several decades."

In the quest for carbon neutrality, even the oils and chemicals used make a difference, so lubricant companies like Motul continue to advance technologies for both ICE vehicles and EVs, which have differing requirements.

In the quest for carbon neutrality, even the oils and chemicals used make a difference, so lubricant companies like Motul continue to advance technologies for both ICE vehicles and EVs, which have differing requirements.

The question, said his colleague, Motul Technical Manager Nicolas Demaria, is how to make existing engines cleaner: "That's the big challenge for fuel suppliers, but also for us as a lubricant manufacturer."

Motul specializes in engineering and blending oils and lubricants, not drilling and refining them, which gives the company a leg up in research and reducing its overall carbon footprint. Like other brands, Motul is diversifying into the EV space but by no means abandoning ICE.

"We're looking into battery coolants and doing our part to develop more renewable materials in our oil because we can source from different partners," explained Browning. "We're also pivoting really hard in general for the distant future. We're looking at dielectric coolants for batteries, working with some racing teams that do hydrogen fuel, and even EVs within rallycross."

Demaria meanwhile emphasized that lubricants will also be a major factor in sustaining ICE powerplants. "The very first tool that the manufacturers have to diminish fuel consumption, to diminish pollutants and emissions, is through the lubricant [and] transitioning over to a low-friction lubricant based on first lower viscosity," he said. "And second, more advanced additive technologies will give them the best percentage of fuel consumption reduction per dollar invested."

The bottom line is that racing and performance brands aren't viewing electrification as a death knell, but rather an opportunity to diversify, placing one foot in the growing EV market, and keeping the other firmly planted in new and emerging ICE technologies for virtually every engine component. With the right shift in mindset, equipment, products and investments, aftermarket shops, builders and retailers can do the same to future-proof their businesses for decades to come.

ICE technologies will certainly evolve, but they won't vanish. And if history teaches us anything, it's that while regulators often have brave new visions for the future, technology and markets seldom march in lock step. Instead, they have a way of charting their own, often unpredictable paths. And that has many of the specialty-equipment industry's biggest players envisioning a future ripe with possibilities.

Future-Proofing With the SEMA Garage

Amid rapidly advancing technologies and regulations, the SEMA Garage is a tremendous resource in helping association members future-proof their businesses. With locations in Diamond Bar, California and Detroit, the SEMA Garages give members access to special high tech-tools and equipment they need to get innovations off the drawing board and into customer hands.  

Offering services like 3D scanning and printing, ADAS testing, vehicle measuring sessions, fully equipped bays, emissions testing and certification, as well as educational programs, the SEMA Garages are the only known facilities of their kind in the U.S. For more information visit

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 16:08

SEMA News—June 2023


10 Questions for Aliceje Keyburn

By Douglas McColloch

"There is a certain vibe and energy in the sports industry that you can't get anywhere else," AlicejeAliceje Keyburn SEMA Member (pronounced Alicia) Keyburn says. A powersports lover and a whiz at Creative Suite, she brings her enthusiasm for racing and an eye for design to her current position as Senior Graphic Designer for Race Winning Brands. In the past five years at RWB, she has designed everything you can think of: From websites to print catalogs, apparel to booth displays, and banners to vehicle wraps, there's scarcely an automotive design element missing from her portfolio covering RWB's line of products, which includes Dart Machinery, Wiseco and JE Pistons. She has also worked with Yamaha, Malcolm Smith Racing and DragonFire Racing, among others, and she continues to expand her horizons by "getting out from behind the computer to work at trade shows and events."

SEMA News spent a few minutes with this multitalented individual, to find out the secret of her creativity. What follows has been edited for clarity and length.

SEMA News: What's your latest project? What's new in your studio? 

Aliceje Keyburn: Latest projects include working with SBN to plan our All Female Bronco Build 2023 event list. I recently had the opportunity to host an incredible panel of women at the SEMA Businesswomen's Network Women's Leadership Forum. I'm working on a cool packaging project with a big-name shoe company coming out soon for a motorcycle grip company.  

SN: What first attracted you to the powersports/off-road world?

AK: I grew up going to Speedway races with my dad and going to car shows on the weekends, it was something I enjoyed with my family. My dad used to race dirt bikes and was part of a car club. Powersports and off-roading just looked like a fun thing to be a part of.

SN: When did you know that it was going to be an essential part of your career?

AK: It wasn't until college that I realized the doors available to me with graphic design. My eyes were opened to just how many things required a designer—whether it was giant action shots on a window front of a dealership, websites, catalogs, sales flyers, apparel, etc. I could utilize my passion for motorsports and fuse it with my passion with design. I could create those "Whoa, look at that" moments.

SN: You started working in the automotive industry straight out of art school. How did that come about?  

AK: I took a risk when I decided to make my graduating portfolio heavily focused on action sports. A few teachers warned me that I'd be smarter to widen my portfolio, but I was also told to do what you love—I didn't want to work in a field that I might consider "boring." I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of an art director who happened to work in the aftermarket motorsports world, and after a few interviews, I received a job offer.

SN: Where do find your inspiration when starting a project? What fuels your creativity?

AK: I start with a little research and investigation into a project: Who is the main target audience, and what has been done in the past? What is the main message we are trying to get across or the action we want to see from it? I pull inspiration from different types of sports, magazines, social media, design forums, etc. It gets tough to turn on a creative switch with tight deadlines, but knowing that what I am doing is going to be seen by hundreds or thousands of people pushes me to make sure I give it my all.

SN: Describe your first SEMA Show. What do you remember most about it?

AK: Nerves. It was my first time working on some large displays and product displays; it was going to be my first time seeing it all come together in person. I remember thinking, 'What if something didn't print right? What if the pictures or pixelated or the colors are off?' I was told that all the big bosses were going to be at the Show, meeting with important clients, so I was really hoping to be able to impress them. Luckily, everything turned out great and we received nothing but great feedback.

SN: What's the most challenging project you've tackled thus far, and what did you learn from it?

AK: Catalogs are always challenging. For anyone that has ever been involved in trying to put a large catalog together, especially with heavy data, it can get pretty complicated and stressful. I have learned that communication and keeping people accountable is important. You can't just wait for assets to come to you, especially with tight deadlines, which is why I learned to become vocal and stand up for the things I need in order to get projects done in time.

SN: What's your daily driver, and what do you like best about it?

AK: I have a pretty sweet 2013 Ford Edge. It's Kodiak Brown which almost looks like a copper metalflake in the sun. It gets the job done and can carry my dirt bike. My weekend driver is a 1970 Chevy C20. The neighbors love us when we fire it up.

SN: What's on your personal bucket list?

AK: Travel the world more and enter a motorcycle race. I think travel is important not only to avoid burnout but it is a great way to see what others are doing and think about what creative things can I incorporate in my next project. 

SN: When you're not working, where can we find you and what will you be doing?  

AK: I work a lot and I have been trying to be better at balancing work and personal life. My fiancé and I both have motorcycles, and I've been trying to learn mechanics and tinker more on mine. I enjoy going to the beach, still love going to motorcycle races and hot rod shows, or just enjoying those rare days of staying home and binge-watching the latest crime shows.

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 16:07

SEMA News—June 2023


2023 Mobile-Electronics Trends

By Douglas McColloch

As cars increase their reliance on electronics, the market is poised to grow.

SEMA Show North Hall

North Hall at the 2022 SEMA Show was ground zero for mobile-electronics exhibitors, with companies that manufacture information, entertainment and onboard safety systems all represented.

It's often said that today's cars are, effectively, computers that come equipped with four wheels. And there's certainly some truth to that, as onboard electronic safety and driver-assistance systems proliferate and as cars edge ever closer to full autonomous operation. Mercedes-Benz made news earlier in the year with the announcement that it had produced the first SAE Level 3 autonomous driving system that was capable of state certification. The state of Nevada has already okayed the use of the M-B system on its roads, California may soon follow suit, and it is only a matter of time before other OE manufacturers roll out vehicles with similar state-certified AI drive systems in place.

In any event, the mobile-electronics market continues to diversify and grow as consumers demand more onboard content for their purchasing dollars and as automobiles continue to grow more technologically complex in response. Electronic componentry already accounted for some 35% of a new vehicle's cost in 2020, and that number is forecast to reach close to 50% by 2030, according to a recent survey published by Grandview Research.

For this article, we consulted more than a dozen industry experts. What follows is a summation of their insights, edited for clarity and length.

The State of The Industry

The mobile-electronics industry took a hit during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 5% decline in sales worldwide in 2020, according to Fortune Business Insights, as supply-chain disruptions and a steep decline in new-vehicle sales both inhibited market activation. Since then, the industry has rebounded despite continued sluggish new-car sales, with a global market valuation of $295 billion in 2022 and a forecast to reach $415 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7%, according to a 2022 survey published by Statista.

Mobile Trends

Globally, the mobile electronics market is primed for future growth, reaching an estimated $415 billion in sales by 2028. (Chart courtesy Statista.)

"We are coming out of a time where initial uncertainty yielded unforeseen opportunity," said Zach Luke, national sales manager for Rockford Fosgate. "The market flourished, and companies that were able to adapt and pivot found success, growth, and a resurgence of consumer interest. Consumers' spending options were narrowed, which focused them to engage and prioritize discretionary spending to categories that were maybe once not priority on the 'wants' list but which had now become in demand as an edifying option."

"The market is, I think, kind of flat," said Jeff Varick, founder and director of business development and connected vehicle services for BrandMotion Solutions, adding that the market appears to be fragmenting into more granular niche segments. "You really have to know your customer and the particular use cases that customer has."

Emerging Trends AND Technologies

The pandemic-related surge in off-road motorized recreation, including overlanding, impacted the mobile-electronics sector as well. "The absolutely insane growth in the off-road space during the pandemic was surprising to us," said Brian Sherman, vice president of product and marketing at Maxxsonics USA. "We exceeded forecast in aftermarket and OEM sales during this period by double digits. This has allowed us to hire additional engineering and support staff to fuel future growth and develop new applications more aggressively."
"It's an advantageous time to be in the aftermarket performance business," added Zach Luke.

Mobile Trends

Onboard safety systems are set to proliferate as ADAS, LIDAR and other driver-assistance technologies become more universal. This FullVue mirror from BrandMotion gives truck owners three distinct rear views for monitoring the truck’s bed or a towed load.

Consumer demand for more advanced safety systems—which already constitutes some 30% of the automotive mobile-electronics market—continues to drive new product innovation. "On the powersports and off-road side of our business, we're seeing more advanced technologies used," Sherman noted. "We recently completed a dual camera setup for one OEM customer and have added multi-camera inputs to most of our marine and powersports source units."

The need for onboard safety has never been greater. Auto-related fatalities rose again in 2022 to an estimated 46,000 deaths, according to the National Safety Council. That represents a 22% increase since 2019, even though total vehicle miles traveled in 2022 were still below pre-pandemic levels.

"We have big problems on our nation's roads, a big national public health problem," Varick said. "A lot of it's due to speeding, drugs or drinking, and then cell-phone distraction. So solutions for those things are where I see the most activity right now in the safety end of the mobile-electronics market." Navigation systems and mobile TV and video cameras for automotive applications currently constitute a North American market size of nearly $1 billion, according to the most recent SEMA Market Report.

Mobile Trends Powersports

The explosive growth in recent years of off-roading and powersports has reverberated (pun intended) into the mobile electronics marketplace, with audio systems such as this all-in-one MB Quart from Maxxsonics registering strong sales.

Sales of premium audio systems have also shown signs of growth. "We have seen an uptick in sales of higher-priced, higher-end car audio amps and speakers in our Hifonics and MB Quart brands," said Sherman.

Consumer demand for higher-end audio has forced companies to continue to innovate. "Our continual development of upgraded in-car solutions keeps us on the cutting edge of technology as consumer expectations of performance, reliability, and overall integration, and fit-and-finish are high," said Luke. "This allows us to 'push' our propriety technologies into the platforms where we're seeing our customers engage."

Looking at future trends, Varick sees electrification as the most likely new growth market. "I'm bullish on fleet and EVs, which are coming faster than shared mobility and faster than V2X. Electric vehicles aren't that different—it's just a different powertrain—so it creates another segment of the market to look at for opportunities."

Challenges and Opportunities

Economic headwinds can also present opportunities for secondary markets. "Rising interest rates and manufacturing costs will force OEMs to be more frugal with development and sourcing," Sherman said, adding that "this can provide more opportunities for upgrades from the aftermarket."

"Today we find ourselves in a position where we need to elevate our business strategies and offerings, both where B2B and B2C are involved, with better service, support, and product," said Luke. "We're once again competing with an expanded list of items and events that consumers can spend their money on."

Varick doesn't see any "one-size-fits-all solutions anymore, like a backup camera. I think you really have to come up with custom solutions and niche applications."


Higher-end niche applications have gained market share in the mobile space. This all-in-one Rockford Fosgate ST audio system for the Harley-Davidson Low Rider series provides an example of the type.

As an example, Varick explains, "We have a pretty successful digital rear-view mirror that gives you a full video screen on the mirror. You push a button, and it goes back to being a regular mirror. But when it's a video screen, it's seeing behind you. Even if you have people in the back seat, it's just a camera pointing backward. So we just added a version of that that has a wireless trailer camera for RVs or for a trailer that you're towing, and a custom third brake-light bezel that watches the bed of your pickup."

Our sources unanimously agreed on the need to maintain a robust presence across numerous social-media channels to optimize marketing.

"Most of our brands' ad dollars go to social now as it's the most targeted way to reach consumers," said Sherman. "Niche products require niche marketing, and this provides a clean way for us to market direct to the consumer and drive business to our retail and distribution partners."

Looking Ahead

Sherman echoed the sentiments of our panel with his near-term forecast. "We feel that business will be up in all segments, but not without challenges."

"Our objective is to continue creating demand by delivering industry-leading product and service," said Luke, "which enables us to continue capturing consumers open to buy."

The market is more fragmented now," Varick concludes, "so you need to find a market that isn't getting served by the OEMs or the general aftermarket."



41100 Bridge St.
Novi, MI 48375

Maxxsonics USA

8561 E. Park Ave.
Libertyvllle, IL 60048

Rockford Fosgate

600 S. Rockford Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85281

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 15:37

SEMA News—June 2023


Maximizing ROI at the 2023 SEMA Show

By Mike Imlay

Automotive specialty-equipment manufacturers are geared up and eager to connect with attendees at the 2023 SEMA Show, taking place October 31–November 3 in Las Vegas. With exhibitor numbers expected to top 2,000 companies, buyers and media will have plenty to explore at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


As SEMA Show organizers like to say, "You can't smell rubber on a Zoom call." Live events and demonstrations help immerse attendees in industry trends, innovation and excitement.

"The commitment we've seen from exhibitors is a positive sign that companies are excited to reconnect face-to-face," said Tom Gattuso, SEMA vice president of events. "It's also a sign that companies are confident that they will have new products and stories to share."
Meanwhile, SEMA officials are finalizing new features to further evolve the Show and deepen attendee engagement. To help attendees get their best return on energy and investment, we turned to Gattuso and SEMA Trade Show Director Andy Tompkins for some behind-the-scenes insights.

SEMA News: There's been a lot of talk in the media about how trade events are changing. In a world of Zoom, Teams and social media, what is the value of a live trade event like the SEMA Show?

Tom Gattuso: I'd go a step further and ask, "What is the value of face-to-face events?" We find a tremendous positive response from the people who attend the SEMA Show. They value connecting in person with their end users or future suppliers and industry colleagues. There's just no replacement for what you can see, hear and feel in terms of industry passion and enthusiasm onsite at the Show. You just can't replace that peer-to-peer exchange, and you can't smell burning rubber on a Zoom call. 

Andy Tompkins: I'd underscore that value of relationships. The SEMA Show gathers the entire industry in one place so people can do business with one another, regardless of how technology is accelerating. It's a great opportunity to rekindle relationships, develop new ones, and have significant conversations. It can be difficult at times to solve business issues and more nuanced situations through technology like the phone, internet or email. A trade show offers the chance to look somebody in the eye and really talk about your issues and goals. You can pick up on non-verbal cues and have that more innate conversation that is really part of our DNA. 

SN: Part of business is ensuring return on investment and energy. What does the SEMA Show offer attendees in that regard?

TG: In 2021, the SEMA Show was the highest attended trade Show in the U.S. That emphasizes the value people see in our Show. It reflects the trends and interactions within the marketplace and is set up to help people make connections efficiently and then foster those connections for the next one, three and five years. And that's important--return on energy doesn't stop at the Show.
Connections need to be followed up with periodic conversations throughout the year because if you don't do that, others will. If your plan is to come to the SEMA Show and try your hardest for four days but then do nothing else, you're not going to see a good ROI. But if you come to the Show to make connections that you plan to nurture over the next weeks, months and years, you will definitely get a very strong return.

AT: It's so important to have goals as you enter the SEMA Show and really think about what ROI means to you. Do you have a three- to five-year strategic plan? The SEMA Show offers a long-term opportunity to truly think about what's coming next for the industry. It helps you see business challenges or opportunities that you might not be aware of. It's a glimpse of the future that you can only get from a global, immersive event like our Show. 
As Tom mentioned, relationships are built that can deliver for your business in the future. They might be those serendipitous moments in the aisles, a conversation that sparked an idea, or a tangible business opportunity you're working on that needs time and connections to develop. That face-to-face interface is just so enormous.

SN: Maintaining an edge in today's market is more vital than ever. How does the SEMA Show help attendees stay competitive?

AT: The Show is a great opportunity for that. You'll have the entire landscape of industry products in one location so you can see firsthand what's being introduced, how it's being marketed. You'll get an understanding of the buzz over not only what the business audience sees, but what consumers are gravitating towards through the Show's Friday Experience. If you're looking for skills that you and your team may need, there are also the Show's educational opportunities. You'll also see where you stack up in the marketplace from a competitive angle. You'll be in the best position to utilize it all to be successful going forward. 

TG: I'm going to key in on the word "innovation." A sustainable business is about constant innovation and evolution in answering consumer needs. That manifests itself at the SEMA Show through new products, cutting-edge vehicle builds and world-class education. You're able to be part of where the industry is going. There's no place as passionate about the industry's growth as the SEMA Show. Vehicles keep evolving in technology, performance and styling, and the Show immerses you in all of it to help you stay up to speed and competitive.

SN: Let's talk about some key 2023 Show features that attendees will want to leverage.

AT: They'll see thousands of products on display from our New Product Showcase to our more than 2,000 exhibitors, many of whom are debuting them for the first time. Again, our educational tracks offer a whole series of ways to fine-tune your business and your career, along with presenting some skills you might want to work on personally. Then there's just the experience, the chance to get out of your day-to-day work to really think about what's next and those inspirational opportunities that come from being immersed with thousands of like-minded peers. 

TG: Building on what Andy said, I'd add that our New Products Showcase and features like SEMA Central, SEMA Electrified and the ADAS and Overlanding Experience sections are designed to educate attendees on the latest marketplace trends. More than that, they make it efficient for showgoers to connect with product exhibitors on the Show floor, getting questions answered by experts, and seeing the products demonstrated. We've also made it easy to connect with exhibitors whose products are found on featured and sponsored vehicle builds throughout the Show. 
In addition to educational seminars, keynote events and presentations, there are also countless other ways to advance your professional development and become an asset to your company or business. For example, our Battle of the Builders program highlights what's happening in the builder community and what's coming next there. We have a whole series of council events and other industry activities that help you network and immerse yourself in the marketplace. You can connect to become part of the industry's next generation of leaders or support them and the industry's diversity. There are opportunities everywhere.

SN: You've mentioned that the SEMA Show is always evolving. Can you offer any insights into new Show features or plans for 2023 that we should highlight?

TG: We can offer a teaser: With the industry workforce changing and evolving, we've seen a desire within the trade show industry to provide more features that entertain attendees. As many know, we're creating a new SEMA Fest event to give people the chance to connect with the industry on a whole new level. It's really a lifestyle event combining entertainment and vehicle demonstrations. 
Although it's not a direct part of our annual trade Show, it's going to be adjacent to the SEMA Show. It will give those who want to mix their business needs with world-class entertainment the opportunity to do so. Unlike the SEMA Show, which continues to be trade-focused, SEMA Fest will be a public event. It's designed to help generate enthusiasm and excitement for our industry among consumers, especially those drawn to the automotive lifestyle.

AT: I can also report that will be some new and interesting thought leaders presenting SEMA Education sessions. We'll absolutely have more for attendees to experience there. We're also expanding several of our industry-community areas to spark more interaction and connections. Plus, as Tom mentioned, we'll see a greater presence of enthusiast end users in the Las Vegas Convention Center through the Show's Friday Experience. 

SN: We've covered a lot in this interview. Do you have any closing thoughts you'd like to add?

TG: We're really keyed in on what industry attendees seek in an event. We're building new facets of the Show around those needs. So we're excited with what the future holds not only for our Show, but face-to-face trade events in general, and the value they bring. We feel strongly as a trade association that showcasing innovation, providing education and building an engaged community delivers attendees personal and professional development in a rapidly changing industry. 


With exhibitor numbers expected to top 2,000 companies, buyers and media will have plenty to explore live and in-person at the 2023 SEMA Show.

Live events and demonstrations help immerse attendees in industry trends, innovation and excitement.

Industry Exhibitors Geared Up for 2023 SEMA Show Attendees

Eager to connect with buyers and media in person, introduce new products, develop relationships and tell their company stories, the 2023 SEMA Show was on track to exceed 2,000 exhibiting companies as of press time.

An up-to-date exhibitor list of the major automakers, iconic aftermarket brands, and new, first-time exhibitors confirmed for the Show can be viewed at

Advantages of Meeting Face-to-Face

Seeing product displayed, explained and demonstrated face-to-face is one of the SEMA Show's many exclusive advantages.

The SEMA Show is driven by connections, and brings exhibitors, buyers and media from around the world together for the automotive aftermarket's most impactful business-to-business experience. Its in-person nature delivers key advantages that other forms of connecting simply can’t match.

  • When you meet in person, you can read body language, see facial expressions, use context clues and better get to know someone's
  • The automotive aftermarket prefers to meet face-to-face, without potential distractions or technical difficulties.
  • It's more effective to brainstorm, generate ideas and discuss what is working, and what is not, face-to-face.
  • Conducting business in person provides the opportunity to engage in purposeful small talk, deepening relationships, loyalty and trust.
  • Research from MIT's Human Dynamics Lab shows face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than those sent by email, and that a physical handshake promotes cooperation and influences negotiation outcomes for the better.
  • According to a Forbes Insight study, 85% of people say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person meetings and conferences.
  • According to a Harvard Review study, 95% of people say face-to-face meetings are a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term business

SEMA Week Expands in 2023

At last year's Industry Awards Banquet, SEMA introduced SEMA Fest, an enthusiast-focused experience that connects automotive enthusiasts with the aftermarket industry for a celebration of car culture and automotive lifestyle. The event will add a new dimension to SEMA Week.

Over a planned five-year rollout period and beyond, SEMA will remain dedicated to producing the annual SEMA Show—the specialty-equipment industry's premier automotive trade event—at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Open to the automotive trade, the Show takes place October 31–November 3.

For more information or to register, visit

Not to be confused with the SEMA Show, SEMA Fest will be an enthusiast-focused event open to everyone, including automotive enthusiasts and professionals. The two-day celebration will be held at a separate venue—the Las Vegas Festival Grounds—Friday and Saturday, November 3–4. It will feature music and entertainment, craft food, automotive celebrities, drifting competitions, freestyle motocross and the world's most innovative and advanced custom vehicles.

To register for SEMA Fest or for more information, visit

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 15:27

SEMA News—June 2023


Living Legend

By Drew Hardin


Photography: Eric Rickman, Petersen Publishing Company Archive

As Ed Iskenderian recalls it, he wasn’t at the meeting in 1963 in which several members of the automotive performance industry gathered to name officers for their new trade organization. So they decided to appoint him president of what was then the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association.

Even in an association made up of now-legendary figures, Iskenderian was a standout. He was mentored in the art of grinding camshafts by Ed Winfield, regarded as the father of performance cam grinds. Iskenderian bought a Model T-based hot rod to test various combinations of speed equipment in 1938, and he was clocked at 120 mph at a Western Timing Association meet at El Mirage in 1942, just before he joined the Army Air Corps. Iskenderian still owns the car, which, much like its owner, remains in unrestored yet well-preserved condition.

Iskenderian began his cam grinding business after World War II, setting up a used grinding machine in the back room of a tool and die company owned by a friend. As a dry lakes racer himself, he had a lot of ideas about how to wring performance from Ford flathead V-8s, Olds Rockets and, later, the Chevrolet small-block and Chrysler Hemi. He studied the camshafts in Italian sports cars to come up with his famous 5-Cycle cam (the fifth combustion cycle being the valve overlap period). He would be the first to augment his own intuition about cam grinds with computer-aided designs, what he called “IBM electronic computed calculations” in his information-packed magazine advertisements.

Those ads were just part of an innovative, and often ground-breaking marketing approach Iskenderian took with his business. He was constantly looking for ways to get exposure for his products. Along the way he was one of the first, if not the first, to put his name on T-shirts, done originally in 1951 for a Bonneville racing team. He also brokered what is believed to be the first professional drag racing sponsorship for a young racer out of Florida named Don Garlits. He was a prolific advertiser in Hot Rod magazine and would use the typically full-page ads to celebrate recent winners who used his cams while also informing readers about his latest products—when he wasn’t sniping at other cam grinders, most often Howard Johansen, in what came to be known as the “cam wars.”

It was Iskenderian’s notoriety as much as his business and marketing acumen that made him an attractive candidate for the SEMA presidency. The other founding SEMA members were as successful as he was in their various performance niches, but Iskenderian—even before he shortened the name on his business to his nickname, Isky—was a bigger name, so to speak, to the general racing public.

This month’s Heritage photo was shot by Hot Rod’s Eric Rickman during the 1963 March Meet in Bakersfield, just a couple of months before Iskenderian was named the first SEMA president. The young woman next to him is wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with his latest innovation: the Polydyne Profile 505 Magnum camshaft. The Polydyne Formula was Iskenderian’s term for a computer-aided cam design, and the 505 was the 5-Cycle-based successor to his very popular 404 grind that he originally produced for the Ford flathead. The 505 Magnum was a high-lift cam that “reaches rpm’s of unbelievable magnitude,” he said in a 1962 Hot Rod ad that introduced the camshaft. Not long after, his ads featured racers winning with the 505, including Jim Nelson, Tommy Ivo, Jack Chrisman and Big John Mazmanian.

Today, nearing his 102nd birthday, Iskenderian remains an enthusiastic participant in the automotive performance world. He may not make it to the shop every day, but he is a guest of honor at nostalgia drag races and car shows, always willing to tell stories and sign an autograph.

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 15:08

SEMA News—June 2023


A Real-World Builders' Look at How to Get a Vehicle Project Sponsored

By Eric Colby 
The SEMA Education builders panel included (left to right) moderator RJ de Vera, TJ Hunt, Bisi Ezerioha, Gabby Downing and Kyle Huhnhausen.

T.J. Hunt has more than two million followers on YouTube. He pioneered automotive influencing and has turned it into a lucrative career. At last fall's SEMA show in Las Vegas, he was on a panel during a session entitled "How to Get a Sponsor for Your Next Build."

"You're not going to get sponsored because you're cool," said the president of Hunt and Company, an apparel business he launched. "It's because that company thinks you're going to make them more sales. For a start, you have to see yourself as a salesman for that company."

The session was one of more than 70 educational presentations during the Show that ran last November 1-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Joining Hunt were RJ de Vera, SEMA vice president of marketing, who moderated the session; Bisi Ezerioha, president of Bisimoto Engineering, in Ontario, California; Kyle Kuhnhausen, founder and president of Kuhnhausen Metal Concepts in Creswell, Oregon, and popular content creator and competitor Gabby Downing from Fredericksburg, Virginia. 

All the panelists had humble starts. Ezerioha is originally from Nigeria and worked his way up from building a Honda CRX drag car to racing for American Honda. Today, he has relationships with many original equipment manufacturers. Kuhnhausen and Downing both started with Hondas as well, with Kuhnhausen winning the Young Guns category in the 2018 SEMA Battle of the Builders. Downing has driven drift cars, off-road vehicles and started with videos on basic repairs, including oil changes. She recently bought a C5 Corvette and is one of the most popular influencers in the automotive aftermarket. 

"These are great examples of people who started building a car and now they have these great businesses," said de Vera. "For us at SEMA, a pillar is the idea of innovation and opportunity. Innovation isn't just about building the business, it's about building yourself."

Inevitably, a first project is going to start in a person's garage and it's going to be self-funded. A build also needs to be chronicled so others can follow the story. Recalling his experience in the Battle of the Builders, Kuhnhausen said, "It takes guts to start a build and put it all on social."

Most first-timers start with what they're given, noted de Vera. Ezerioha's first modification was by accident. He had an '88 Honda CRX HF. He started his car one morning and the exhaust was louder than usual because it was perforated. "It sounded cool, and I liked it," he said. He went to a local Honda dealer and got a quote of $600 to fix it. "I couldn't afford it, so I went to a local muffler shop and they put a Dynomax Ultraflow on my car," he said.

The HF designation for his car stood for high fuel economy, and Ezerioha called that a "blessing in disguise" because it was the lightest CRX made. He got into drag racing and when it came to interacting with people in the pits, Ezerioha did what came naturally. All the other competitors kept to themselves to try to maintain a competitive advantage. But Ezerioha was an open book. He had his sponsors' literature displayed on a table and he interacted with fans. A representative from American Honda noticed Ezerioha's efforts and asked if he would race for the company. "My passion is what allowed me to attract a financial sponsorship," he said.

Downing started with her own CRX. "I had just gotten out of high school and I needed something that was old and affordable, and a Civic was too boring," she said. "It had 18-in. wheels that were way too big and had two big sub-woofers in the back. I modded it, I raced it and I rallied it."
Hunt started with a BMW 328, saying, "I did some V6 things to try to make it fast, tuning and springs and taillight tints, just some basic stuff; but that's kind of what cracked the seal for me. Then I got into the forums and trying to figure it all out."

It Starts With Parts 
The first step in the sponsorship process is usually parts. Ezerioha's first backing came from SoCal Racing Wheels. "I met with the owner and he was an engineer as well, and we just hit it off," he said. "It taught me early on that relationships are important with sponsorships."

Kuhnhausen was four years into a five-year build and took the car to a local show in Oregon. He met the president of Radium Engineering of Clackamas, Oregon, which makes performance accessories for cars and trucks. "He loved the passion I had and the innovation I was doing on the car, and he said, 'Give me a call and we'll get you whatever you need," said Kuhnhausen.

He continued, "I made the call and about a week later, an unmarked package showed up on my door. I said, 'That's cool, this guy believes in me so much that he's willing to help me amplify my build,' which went on to win the Young Guns division of Battle of the Builders and kind of get my career going." Today, Kunhausen is a Battle of the Builders judge.

All the cars that KMC builds now get Radium parts. "I've got a lot more eyes on what I do to feed business their way, so it's a cool relationship," said Kuhnhausen. "They gave me the early edge and now I can give that back."

Early in her career, Downing got lots of parts sent to her to use in videos. One of her earliest partners was B.F. Goodrich. When the tire giant first reached out to her, she thought someone was pranking her. 
 "I have had a hard time understanding my value and believing that I had anything to give back," she said. "When they reached out and believed in me and my value and being different, they're someone I wanted to continue to work with."

Hunt was running a Subaru BRZ and sent an email to Subaru parts distributors to introduce himself. "I got lucky because the person who saw the email was 18 and actually a viewer of my channel," said Hunt. "His boss was probably twice his age and had no idea."

Hunt landed a phone call with the boss and explained his presence on YouTube. He explained that if they gave him a store credit on parts, Hunt would do install videos.

"They took a shot in the dark and it was a hit for them," said Hunt. "It opened up that door and showed me how to leverage what I had." 
Cashing In 
Once a shop or individual is successful, the relation often organically moves to the next level--financial sponsorships.

Downing said that her first financial sponsor remains a partner today. "They saw what I could do if I had financial assistance," she said. "I'm all about proving myself and making content and showing it."

Kuhnhausen's content has always been based on his build process. "I found a company that I don't have to sell their product because my simply using their product sells their product and that's SendCutSend laser cutting service," he said. "The partners you want to work with are the ones that you would still be working with even if you didn't have a deal."

Hunt's first financial sponsorship came through de Vera when he worked in marketing for Meguiar's Inc. Today the wax and polish company is Hunt's longest-standing partner. "You need to know the sponsor's demographic better than your own," he said. "What do they have and not have."

De Vera saw Hunt's reach firsthand at a show that Meguiar's was sponsoring. There was a long line made up primarily of young attendees waiting for as long as two hours for Hunt and company merchandise. Meguiar's was a brand known for appealing to the older hot-rod crowd, not the young drift-car enthusiasts.

When Hunt and de Vera started talking, the former explained that he could deliver that audience to Meguiar's.

"You need to fully understand that you're a salesman, know the demographic, what they're studying, what they're looking for," said Hunt.

Added Downing, "Once I took myself seriously, brands saw that," she said. "I shifted to promoting myself as a business and not a person." 

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 14:49

SEMA News—June 2023


Tracking The Growth of an Ever-Evolving Industry

Compiled by SEMA News Staff

SEMA Show 60th

"The 60th anniversary of SEMA the organization is testimony to the strength and resiliency of our member companies," said Mike Spagnola, SEMA president and CEO. "Through changing and often turbulent times, the specialty-equipment market has continuously evolved to meet the demands of the moment. While SEMA has done its part to help advance the cause of the industry, it's the unflagging enthusiasm and perseverance of our members that has been the reason for our longevity."

What follows is a review of the past 60 years—the trends that influenced the aftermarket, and the ways that SEMA has changed to meet the needs of its member companies. Special thanks to all those industry members who shared their recollections with SEMA News for this article.

It all began in May 1963, at a meeting in the offices of a model-toy manufacturer in Hollywood, California, when 20-odd members of the fledgling automotive performance aftermarket—who were normally fierce competitors—first discussed the possibility of joining forces. From those inauspicious beginnings emerged the makings of a trade association that now serves more than 7,000 members comprising a $50 billion specialty-equipment market.

SEMA at 60

The automotive aftermarket as we know it today most likely began on the dry lake beds of California's Mojave Desert, where the earliest enthusiasts gathered for speed trials to test the products they'd produced for their (mostly) Ford and Chevy roadsters. In the early postwar years, those vehicles were plentiful and affordable, and Southern California's temperate weather enabled enthusiasts to wrench on (and race) their cars virtually year-round.

Things started to pick up for the industry when Robert Petersen launched Hot Rod in 1948, and the demand for speed equipment increased exponentially.

"What Hot Rod did was take a very regional Southern California phenomenon of building up cars to run on the lakes and extend that across the country," said Drew Hardin, longtime automotive journalist and author of Hot Rod Magazine: 75 Years. "Now people everywhere in the United States could read about what was going on in Southern California, and now people everywhere in the United States could find those parts that were being made by Vic Edelbrock and Barney Navarro and all the pioneer speed part manufacturers."

Also, Hot Rod provided enthusiasts around the United States an opportunity to interact with each other via the magazine. "Before then, the only way you could do that was to talk to friends, talk to fellow racers or go to speed shops," Hardin said. "Things were a little more catch-as-catch-can until Hot Rod came along." As a result, so-called "speed shops" began to spring up across the country to serve the growing demand of enthusiasts.

Another innovation that fueled further interest was the debut of Chevrolet's small-block V8 in 1955. "Much like what happened with Ford's overhead valve V8 in 1932, suddenly you had a V8 engine that was priced and marketed to the masses, and you also had one that was very receptive to modification," Hardin said. "Guys were hopping up that engine almost right out of the gate and making more power from it. It was a watershed moment."

Also of note, Hardin continued, was Chrysler's introduction of the "FirePower" Hemi, which even pre-dated the Chevy small-block. "Those early Hemis were the backbone for drag racers for years."

While the aftermarket continued to grow into the '60s, there was little or no coordination between companies. Distribution networks didn't exist, and neither did industry product standards or much, if any, collaboration between manufacturers. These were, after all, competing entities that carefully guarded their trade secrets. "They were racers first and businessmen second," Hardin noted.

That all began to change in 1963.

Before the Beginning: The Early Postwar Years


The 1960s: How it Started

Accounts have varied over the years, but the surviving narrative, as originally reported in SEMA News in 1986 and again in 2003, is that SEMA was formed after a query from an outsider: Henry Blankfort, a marketing executive with model-car manufacturer Revell Inc. (now Revell USA LLC), who was seeking exclusive licensing agreements with various speed-equipment manufacturers to use their company logos on Revell's model cars.

To that end, Blankfort enlisted the aid of advertising executive Ed Elliot, who was well connected to the aftermarket—he represented most of the companies that advertised in Hot Rod—to convene a meeting of speed-shop owner/manufacturers in order to make his pitch. Some 20-odd manufacturers attended the meeting at Revell's headquarters on Hollywood Boulevard in May 1963, and among those known to have been in attendance were Ed Iskenderian of Isky Cams, Els Mohn of Eelco Manufacturing, Dean Moon of Moon Equipment and Roy Richter of Cragar Equipment.

Blankfort, who was also an officer with the Hobby Industry Association (HIA), a trade association of craft and hobby-equipment manufacturers, suggested the attendees form a similar umbrella group. The new association, he explained, could handle mundane administrative requests such as his more efficiently, and the new group could also be useful for government advocacy programs; a trade association could lobby more effectively against future regulations than any single company ever could. (The HIA was formed in part to lobby against legislative initiatives that sought to limit the sale of model airplane glue.) The idea took hold, and the attendees agreed to form an association.

Ed Iskenderian, 101 years of age at the time this issue went to press, recalled the meeting. "We especially liked the idea of having a lawyer in D.C. who could help us fight against any government regulations that might come along, so we agreed to join forces." John Bartlett, president of Grant Racing Pistons, drew up the first bylaws (he was also a licensed attorney), and the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association was incorporated in May 1963, with Ed Iskenderian subsequently elected the association's first president. Iskenderian, who wasn't present for the vote, still isn't sure why he was selected, but adds that "it was really a great honor, though the fellow who really kept the organization running in the early years was Ed Elliot."

The new organization's mission was straightforward: develop uniform standards for products used in motorsports; promote the industry to consumers; develop business best practices among member companies; and hold regular meetings to promote solidarity as an organization. The founding and charter member companies are listed in the sidebar below.

The SEMA Show: Origins

The idea for a specialty-equipment industry trade show sprang from a number of divergent sources, and several different aftermarket gatherings have been suggested as SEMA Show forerunners. Among the best-known was a trade event organized by the late Noel Carpenter, then the publisher of Speed & Custom Equipment News (which merged with Hot Rod in the' 70s). It debuted at the Disneyland Hotel in 1965 as the "Speed & Custom Equipment Show" and featured 70-odd exhibitors and roughly 1,000 attendees. SEMA was not involved in organizing that event, but the association did sponsor the event the following year and received a share of show profits: a check for $535.

The first "officially recognized" SEMA Show was held in 1967 under the aegis of Petersen Publishing, which purchased the rights to the Show from SEMA. Petersen's Hot Rod Industry News, edited by Alex Xydias of SO-CAL Speed Shop fame, was the Show's official host, and Petersen's Special Events division, helmed by Dick Wells, was charged with the event's production and logistics.

The inaugural SEMA Show—officially, the "High Performance & Custom Trade Show"—was held January 10–12, 1967, at the club-level concourse at Dodger Stadium. "It was raining and freezing cold," said Gigi Carleton, Bob Petersen's longtime executive secretary, in an interview with SEMA News in 2017. "The manufacturers came from all over the United States—some locally, some from as far away as the Midwest, and everyone stayed at the old Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.

"No one was sure how well a show like this would turn out," Carleton added, "because no one had ever done anything like it before."

As with any first-time exhibition, the initial SEMA Show had its share of challenges, with poor weather and slapdash booth displays that were sometimes little more than folding card tables and cardboard signs held together with Scotch tape. "It was kind of a mess," Ed Iskenderian admitted.

Still, with 98 exhibiting companies and some 3,000 industry professionals in attendance, the Show was judged to have been worth the effort, and worth revisiting the following year. "It was a huge success," Carleton said. "We couldn't believe it!" Many SEMA-member companies that exhibited that year are still in business today, including Air Lift Co., B&M Automotive, Crower Cams, Edelbrock Group, Hedman Hedders, Hellwig Products, Mickey Thompson Wheels & Tires, Milodon Engineering and Valley Head Service, among others.

Looking back, Carleton attributed the Show's success to a healthy economy and good timing. "Many of the exhibitors wrote so many orders at the first show that they could hardly wait for the second one," which was relocated the following year to the newly opened Anaheim Convention Center.


The 1970s: Regulations and Innovations

The year 1970 saw the passage of the Clean Air Act—and with it, the first enforceable federal emissions mandates. In addition, the publication of Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed a few years prior led to a public outcry for improved vehicle safety, and in the years that followed, the automotive industry was hit with a raft of new regulations, including a federal speed limit.

In response, SEMA's name was changed to its present form in 1970 at the suggestion of Earl Kitner, SEMA's first Washington, D.C.-based attorney, for reasons that were as much political as organizational. "A name change would greatly assist our representation," Kitner said at the time, adding that "elderly bureaucrats are not likely to appreciate the swinging generation's preoccupation with speed." The aftermarket had begun to diversify beyond hard parts for racing, and the members agreed that the more generalized "Specialty Equipment" better reflected an industry that was now serving multiple automotive market segments while de-emphasizing the go-fast enthusiast element.

"We also wanted to attract distributors," Ed Iskenderian added.

Still, the '70s witnessed the first of many skirmishes between SEMA-member companies and the new wave of environmental regulations from the newly created U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). In response, SEMA's legal department rose to meet the challenge.

"One of the secrets of our success was keeping the EPA and CARB at arm's length," said Chuck Blum, SEMA president and CEO from 1980 to 2002. "Their regulations basically wouldn't allow you to touch any emission-control devices on a car. If you did, you violated the regulation even if the aftermarket guys were making products that didn't violate emissions. But the way the law was written, they couldn't make those products and sell them. They wanted to shut down the aftermarket.

"But that's where SEMA played a major role in that," Blum continued. "We sued the EPA, and we won."

On the other hand, Blum reminded, "A lot of the same laws are still on the books to this day. And SEMA is still fighting those same regulations."

In any event, the aftermarket experienced robust growth during the decade, and it was reflected in the rapid expansion of the SEMA Show, which had outgrown its Anaheim exhibition space by the middle of the decade. Would-be industry attendees were turned away from sold-out events in 1975 and 1976, and in response, the SEMA Board of Directors, following the guidance of CEO Leo Kagan, made the decision to relocate the Show to the city of Las Vegas. Only a decade after the initial SEMA Show, which hosted fewer than 100 exhibitors, the inaugural Vegas event hosted more than 800 companies.

The 1980s: The Aftermarket Diversifies

A succession of Middle East oil embargoes in the '70s, combined with years of near double-digit inflation, kept fuel prices high for the better part of the decade. As a consequence, consumer preferences began to shift away from full-size domestic sedans toward smaller imports, and by the mid-'80s, Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas were commonplace on America's roads. These cars were highly economical but lacking in the kind of power and performance many consumers desired. The specialty-equipment market responded in kind, and a "sport compact" aftermarket sector began producing parts for Japanese and German imports.

"We ran across this guy, Chuck Schwartz, who had his own little import show called Auto Internacional, and we negotiated with him to bring the import show into our group," Chuck Blum said. "And in so doing, we ended up hiring him as our show manager. It was basically the import parts segment of the industry, which at that time was pretty unique."

In addition, the pickup enthusiast market grew by leaps and bounds in the '80s, particularly in response to the unexpected popularity of monster truck racing that began in the middle of the decade. Initially derided as a passing fad, the monsters caught the fancy of the American public, and eventually the industry became a leading innovator in chassis and suspension design. Once again, the aftermarket rushed to fill a growing enthusiast demand with suspension lifts, oversized tires and numerous related components for trucks, Jeeps and SUVs.

Chuck Schwartz was also instrumental in the expansion of the truck and off-road sector, forming the Off-Road Equipment Association (OREA) along with Pete Condos, Bill Stroppe and Thurston Warn, among others, as a response to concerns about land closures. Schwartz produced the OREA trade shows, which eventually was folded into the SEMA Show.

As the aftermarket grew into greater numbers of segments, the annual SEMA Show, which had no systematized exhibit protocols, became an increasingly taxing experience for attendees.

"A lot of the attendees were complaining that if they wanted to, say, see truck accessories, they had to walk all over the place to find them," Blum recalled. "The show was getting bigger and the convention center was getting bigger, and it became very difficult. So we decided we'd go with dedicated Show sections."

It may be hard to believe in retrospect, but "we got a lot of pushback at the start," Blum said. "We had exhibitors complaining, 'I don't want to be anywhere near my competitors,' that type of thing. But as it turned out, even those naysayers agreed that it was probably the best thing to do."


The 1990s: Street Performance and SUVs

The '90s marked the post-Cold-War Era, the decade when America saw the fall of the Iron Curtain and the launch of the internet (then spelled with a capital "I"). The "peace dividend" expanded the economy, and hence new aftermarket opportunities. There are some, in fact, who argue that the decade was among the most exciting periods in automotive history.

"For the aftermarket, adding a body kit or spoiler was popular, wheels got bigger and spinners enjoyed renewed popularity, among many other innovations," noted Stuart Gosswein, former SEMA senior director for federal governmental affairs. "On the safety side, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] introduced the five-star rating system in 1993 to help consumers focus on issues such as front, rear and side impact. Anti-lock brakes became standard equipment, and cars were required to have front passenger-side airbags."

Meanwhile, the introduction of the Ferrari F50 and Lamborghini Diablo took sports performance and handling to new levels. (For more modest budgets, there was the "Ferrari-slaying" Acura NSX or the V10 Dodge Viper.) Especially noteworthy, GM introduced the LS engine in 1997 with the C5 Corvette.

For the trendy, the Plymouth Prowler and a revamped VW Beetle brought the market a retro vibe. But the Hip Hop Age continued the proliferation of "tricked out" lowriders and mini trucks begun in the '80s, while the sport-compact scene redefined street performance.

"That market gave a giant shot in the arm to SEMA and the industry because it brought in a much younger crowd," observed former SEMA News Editor Bill Groak. "They were doing the same thing that SEMA folks did back in the '50s and' 60s—improving horsepower and suspensions and adding cool goodies."

The rise of the SUV was another gift to modifiers, given how consumers liked their vehicles rugged-looking, bull-bar-equipped and ready to go off-road on a moment's notice—whether or not they ever really did.

But there were rising challenges. In 1991, CARB mandated OBD II for all new cars, with the EPA quickly following suit. Foreseeing growing regulatory battles, SEMA relocated its Government Affairs office to Washington, D.C., in 1995 and held its first Washington Rally to connect members and lawmakers in 1996. "SEMA also sponsored the formation of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus to help raise the industry's profile with Capitol Hill and the public," added Gosswein.


The 2000s: "Fast and Furious" Car Culture

As the 21st century dawned, the aftermarket experienced "Fast and Furious" growth—literally. Released in 2001, the film arguably influenced the aftermarket more than any other in recent memory. In fact, Hollywood seemed intent on promoting fast and blingy cars. (Think MTV's "Cribs," "Pimp My Ride," big chrome wheels and spinners.)

The mix of urban culture, stars and cars opened a fresh niche for publications, including DUB magazine, which helped inspire toy car lines, video games and concerts. This and other car-oriented phenomena greatly broadened the audience for all things automotive.

"Suddenly cars were cool among the youth again," observed SEMA Vice President of Marketing RJ de Vera, who came of age amid the craze. "It was a lifestyle movement as much as a car movement."

That movement encompassed car shows and concerts, Hot Import Nights and other motorsports events delivering DJs and live music, dancing, big-name sponsors, and other festival elements to young attendees. Formula Drift became a sanctioned form of motorsports, while off-road and dirt racing also greatly expanded, garnering major media coverage and non-endemic sponsorships. And, though few foresaw it then, Yamaha's 2004 introduction of the Rhino would hatch an exciting new UTV powersports class.

Among the OEMs, SUVs continued in popularity, with Jeeps surging in ascendancy by mid-decade. The Chrysler PT Cruiser caused a stir, as did the Chevy Corvette Z06 and Ford GT. The truck wars between Ford, GMC/Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota heated up as well. By end of decade, however, rising gas prices had many consumers considering recently introduced subcompacts and hybrids like the Honda Fit and Insight and the Toyota Prius.

Tech-wise, the TREAD Act of 2000 required the NHTSA to issue a new tire safety standard and mandates for tire-pressure monitoring and electronic stability control systems on new cars. OEMs also introduced dual-clutch transmissions, backup radar and rearview cameras. "Infotainment," too, became an aftermarket buzzword: this encompassed DVD players, enhanced audio and GPS navigation systems, Bluetooth, iPods and charging units for early smartphones. (Remember the Blackberry?)

On the legal front, SEMA fought "Cash for Clunker" initiatives throughout the '00s at state and federal levels. To further expand industry influence, SEMA created the Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC) in 2003 and the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus in 2005. "Both organizations remain vital to supporting federal and state lawmakers who support the automotive hobby and businesses," explained Stuart Gosswein.


2010–Present: Reaching New Heights

If you could sum up the last 13 years in two words, they might be "growth" and "technology." Plunged into the Great Recession in 2008, the economy righted itself around 2010, and the industry roared back.

By 2015, what former SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting called "the Golden Era of Off-the-Shelf Horsepower" was in full swing with musclecars gaining a fresh following. In fact, the OEM push for ever-higher fuel efficiency and performance through turbo- and supercharged engines has delivered consumers vehicles capable of 700+ hp. Smaller-displacement engines have benefitted too. The horsepower of an average four-cylinder is double—sometimes triple—that of 2010.

Aftermarket upgrades have become "simpler" also: a new intake, exhaust kit, springs and electronic tuning. What isn't so simple is the emissions compliance surrounding certain mods. Both CARB the EPA stepped up emissions enforcement in the '00s, prompting SEMA to open the Diamond Bar, California, SEMA Garage in 2015 to assist manufacturers in developing compliant products. In 2022, SEMA added a Detroit facility.

SEMA also stepped up its industry advocacy, introducing the RPM Act and mobilizing enthusiast supporters, lobbying state legislatures for more favorable laws, and increasingly taking on land-use issues. It worked to save the Bonneville Salt Flats and recently joined a lawsuit to keep California's Oceano Dunes open to OHV recreation.

"Member challenges and opportunities abounded in the '10s," said Kersting. "We prioritized the use of SEMA funds on solutions and tools that they couldn't develop or afford individually. These included the Diamond Bar and Detroit SEMA Garage emissions and ADAS centers, SEMA Data services, and growing the SEMA Show into an all-encompassing automotive cultural event." (This helped lay the groundwork for SEMA Fest.)

It's no understatement to say the current decade is one of major industry transformation. OEMS are shifting toward trucks, mainly pickups and CUVs. Plus, all automakers plan to significantly up hybrid and battery electric vehicle production in the coming decade. (Autonomous cars are further off, but techies are working on it.)

In terms of aftermarket styling, more nuanced kits with vinyl wraps and carbon-fiber pieces are the latest vogue. The truck surge has also kept lift, suspension, wheel and bumper suppliers busy. Meanwhile, restorers are redefining "classics" to include restomodded '80s and '90s cars and trucks.

Even when the 2020 pandemic hit, the industry kept its momentum, aided by the tech that has radically reshaped marketing. In 2006, Twitter was a fledging and Facebook a "fad." Now digital media drives consumer engagement. Time and again, the industry demonstrates ingenuity and resilience, and SEMA and its members stand well poised for the future.

The Mystery of the SEMA Time Capsule

Upon entering the SEMA Garage lobby in Diamond Bar, California, visitors often spy a strange, 7-ft. cylindrical relic ensconced in a museum-like display case. That display case is no accident, because the object in question was indeed once meant for a museum. So begins the unusual history of the SEMA Time Capsule.

Designed by Chip Foose and built by Boyd Coddington Hot Rod Shop in 1996 to commemorate the first "100 Years of the Automobile in America," the tube contains a variety of artifacts contributed by SEMA members (and even racer Mario Andretti). But just what all those artifacts are will likely remain a mystery until 2096, the tube's intended opening date.

According to a memo dated June 6, 1996, by GiGi Carleton, secretary to famed automotive publisher Robert E. Petersen, SEMA offered the capsule to the Smithsonian Institute, but the Smithsonian people passed on it. That's when Petersen, who was founding the $40-million Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, took interest in the capsule.

"Presently the capsule is scheduled to go on tour for the rest of the year," Carleton explained to Petersen in her memo. "During the month of July it is to be displayed at the Henry Ford Museum [in Detroit]. Then to a museum in Philadelphia and will also be on display at the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis over the Labor Day Weekend."

After the tour, the Henry Ford Museum planned to inter the capsule for the next 100 years under a floor "with a very thick armored glass over it so the museum goers can inspect it and possibly walk over it," wrote Carleton. The estimated cost for such an arrangement was approximately $5,000—cheap by today's architectural standards.

Carleton's question for Petersen: Did he want to offer a similar subterra display at his museum instead? The estimated cost was "nothing," since the project could be folded into the construction then underway. Moreover, an NBC "Today Show" interview with the publishing scion about the museum was in the works, presenting an ideal PR opportunity.

"A decision must be made immediately since it will be announced on the 'TODAY' show the end of June, the same show on which you will have your interview clips," Carleton pointed out.

Alas, permanent entombment at any of the proposed museums was not to be. After a brief stint as an above-ground display in the Petersen Museum, the capsule wound up back at SEMA's SoCal headquarters. There its secrets await their unsealing some 73 years from now.


1963: The Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) is founded. Thirty-six companies join the new association by year's end.

1967: The first official SEMA Show takes place in January 1967 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; 98 companies and 3,000 industry professionals attend.

1968: The SEMA Show relocates to the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

1969: SEMA membership surpasses 100 companies.

1970: SEMA changes its name to the Specialty Equipment Market Association.

1971: SEMA membership surpasses 500 companies.

1977: The SEMA Show moves to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

1977: SEMA membership surpasses 1,000 companies.

1984: SEMA Scholarship Council is formed.

1988: SEMA Show sections originate; exhibitors within the street-rod market are grouped in a "Street Rod Equipment" area.

1992: SEMA joins other specialty-equipment organizations to create Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW), occurring annually the first week of November in Las Vegas.

1993: ARMO, SBN, SRMA (later HRIA), AARM (PRO) and YEN (FLN) councils are formed.

1994: SEMA membership surpasses 2,000 companies.

1995: MPMC council is formed.

1996: MRC (MRN) is formed.

1997: The TIA International Tire Expo and the SEMA Show merge to create Global Tire Expo.

1998: WIC (WTC) council is formed.

1999: TCAA (TORA) council is formed.

2002: The Las Vegas Convention Center expands an additional 1 million sq. ft. with the opening of South Hall.

2002: SCC (ETTN) council is formed.

2003: A vehicle Proving Ground is added to the SEMA Show where attendees experience exhibitors' products in action for the first time.

2003: SEMA membership surpasses 5,000


2006: SEMA holds its 10th Annual Washington


2008: SEMA focuses on supporting

member businesses through the Great Recession.

2012: SEMA launches the SEMA Data Co-op (now SEMA Data) for the management and sharing of industry product data.

2012: SEMA acquires Performance Racing Industry (PRI); its 2013 show returns to Indianapolis.

2013: The SEMA Launch Pad

competition debuts.

2014: SEMA Garage opens in Diamond Bar, California, with facilities for emissions testing, CARB certification, measuring sessions and more.

2014: SEMA Ignited is introduced.

2014: The Battle of the Builders competition debuts.

2019: SEMA Electrified, a new emerging-tech SEMA Show feature, debuts.

2019: SEMA membership reaches a record 7,703 companies.

2021: The Las Vegas Convention Center expands by 600,000 sq. ft. with the opening of West Hall.

2021: The Boring Co. launches its underground shuttle service between West Hall and South Hall.

2021: SEMA Individual Memberships are offered for the first time.

2022: SEMA Garage Detroit opens a 45,000-sq.-ft. facility, which includes 5,000

sq. ft. dedicated to ADAS testing and calibration.

2022: The SEMA Show New Products Showcase expands to include sections dedicated to the latest EV and ADAS products.


SEMA Founding and Charter Member Companies

Company, Owner

* denotes founding companies

American Racing Equipment, Jim Ellison

Ansen Automotive Engineering,* Louis Senter

B&M Automotive Products,* Bob Spar

CAE Racing Products, Jim Culbertson

Chuchua’s 4-Wheel Drive, Brian Chuchua

Cragar Equipment*, Roy Richter

Crankshaft Co., Huey Holik

Dempsey Wilson Racing Cams*, Dempsey Wilson

Edelbrock Equipment Co., Vic Edelbrock

Ed Iskenderian Racing Cams*, Ed Iskenderian

Eelco Manufacturing & Supply*, Els Lohn

Enginetics, Ruth Wilson

Grant Industries*, John Bartlett

Halibrand Engineering, Ted Halibrand

Henry Blankfort Group, Henry Blankfort

Hedman Manufacturing Co., Bob Hedman

Hurst-Campbell Inc., George Hurst

Inglewood Tire Co., Bill Krech

J.E. Engineering, Bill Pendleton

Milodon Engineering*, Don Alderson

Moon Equipment Co.*, Dean Moon

Offenhauser Sales, Fred Offenhauser

Potvin Equipment, Chuck Potvin

Schiefer Manufacturing Co.*, Paul Schiefer

Scott Engineering

Segal Automotive, Al Segal

Shelby American, Carroll Shelby

Spalding Products, Tom Spalding

Speed-A-Motive, Harold Osborne

Thomas Automotive, Products Bill Thomas

Traction Master Co., Maury Leventhal

Trans-Dapt*, Willie Garner

W&H Engineering, Bob Wyman

Weber Speed Equipment*, Harry Weber

Weiand Power & Racing*, Phil Weiand 

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 11:51

By SEMA Editors

SPAL Automotive Srl--the designer and manufacturer of high-qualitySPAL USA electric fans, blowers and fluid pumps for vehicles and equipment--has announced plans to construct a state-of-the-art manufacturing and office facility in Ankeny, Iowa.

SPAL USA, the North American subsidiary of SPAL Automotive Srl, has been providing products from Italy since 1989. The company's newly planned facility will join its current sales and distribution center in a 40,000-square-foot facility in Ankeny.

Plans for the new facility--which will help produce cooling fans for a new electric vehicle platform for a major US automaker--include green energy power from enhanced insulation, existing renewable electricity and solar panel technology. Construction is expected to begin this year, with the first of three possible stages set for completion in early 2025.

Brembo Completes Mexican Caliper Plant Expansion, Announces Plans for Global Expansions

Brembo--the Italian designer and manufacturer of high-performance braking systems with a North American office in Plymouth, Michigan--has completed its latest plant expansion in Escobedo, in the State of Nuevo Léon, Mexico.

The 322,917-sq. ft. expansion doubles the facility's aluminum caliper production output, from foundry to manufacturing and assembly, creating 500 new jobs through 2027, the company stated.

"The Escobedo plant expansion greatly increases Brembo's ability to serve our customers in North America," said Stéphane Rolland, Brembo North America president. 

In addition, Brembo announces plans to expand two of its global facilities, including its China brake system manufacturing plant in Nanjing. Part of the expansion will be the renewal of its research and development center there. Work is expected to begin in the second half of 2023 and to be completed by the first half of 2025.

Brembo also decided to invest in a cast iron foundry in Dąbrowa Górnicza, Poland, where it currently houses a facility for producing and selling brake discs for cars and commercial vehicles. The "investment will create the most innovative Brembo foundry at the global level, which will be endowed with cutting-edge technology, also in terms of sustainability," the company stated. The first pouring of the foundry is expected in the first half of 2025.

These projects are in addition to Brembo's acquisition of the Italian property at Kilometro Rosso, an innovation hub in Stezzano. It is expected to be finalized by the end of 2023, allowing the company to expand its headquarters in Italy.

Bosch Announces New Bosch Mobility Business, President of Americas Region

Bosch has announced a realignment of its global mobility business, Boschwhich beginning in January 2024, will be known as Bosch Mobility. A significant focus of the realignment is strengthening the regions to "serve existing and new customer needs even better and faster with customized technologies and solutions," a company rep stated.

The structure of Bosch Mobility recognizes the increased focus on and impact of software on the vehicle. Bosch Mobility aims to generate sales revenue of more than $84 billion worldwide by 2029, a more than 50% increase from 2022.

Bosch Mobility will be organized into seven divisions:

  • Electrified Motion will be concerned with everything relating to electric motors, from the Bosch e-axle to seat adjusters.
  • Vehicle Motion will cover vehicle dynamics, from ABS and ESP to steering.
  • Power Solutions will handle combustion-engine technology, mobile and stationary fuel cells, electrolyzers and hydrogen engines.
  • Cross-Domain Computing Solutions will develop solutions for areas ranging from automated parking to driver assistance and automated driving.
  • Mobility Electronics will drive forward the development of control units and manage in-house semiconductor activities at Bosch.
  • Mobility Aftermarket will cover the secondary parts market and the Bosch Car Service workshop franchise.
  • E-Bike Systems will supply systems solutions, including drive units, rechargeable batteries, ABS and connected displays for e-bikes.
  • The Bosch subsidiary ETAS will be given horizontal responsibility for hardware-agnostic software for operating systems and engineering tools.

In addition, Bosch has announced a new regional board to oversee its mobility business in North and South America. Beginning January 2024, Paul Thomas will step into the new role of president, Americas and lead the Bosch Mobility Americas regional board. He will oversee technology, strategy and sales for the Americas region.

Thomas currently serves as executive vice president of Bosch Mobility Solutions, Americas.

Velocity Modern Classics Restructures Executive Team

Velocity Modern Classics--the award-winning classic vehicle specialist based in Pensacola, Florida--has announced a newly restructured executive team.

Stuart Wilson, founder and former CEO, will continue to lead Velocity Modern Classics with a renewed focus on brand strategy and operational excellence as executive chairman.

Jeremy Hans will assume the role of CEO, moving from his previous position as partner. Hans brings years of leadership experience as the founder of a commercial real estate investment firm and 16 years as a U.S. Navy Officer and helicopter pilot. He will oversee all company divisions and focus on long-term growth as Velocity launches its new K5 Blazer, Mustang and F-Series truck offerings later this year.

In addition, Tom Maxwell joins as chief revenue officer to oversee the company's sales and marketing efforts. Paul Slater brings over two decades of experience as an accomplished manufacturing and supply chain operations executive to the role of chief operating officer. Finally, Michael Rodgers will serve as Velocity's chief financial officer with 25 years of professional finance experience in the public and private sectors.

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 11:38

By SEMA Editors

The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), brought to you by Gran Turismo, has announced a partnership with the United States Auto Club (USAC) as Pikes Peak moves into its second century of auto racing.

USAC had previously served as the sanctioning body for PPIHC for nearly 25 years from 1956 to the early '80s.

Paul 'Ziggy' Harcus Honored With Robin Miller Award

Longtime IndyCar crewmember Paul "Ziggy" Harcus of AndrettiZiggy Harcus Autosport was awarded this year's Robin Miller Award. He was honored during a ceremony as part of the Miller Lite Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

"Ziggy, you are an institution. You've mentored so many people in our sport for so many years," said Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment CEO. 

Harcus is the first Robin Miller Award winner that is not a media member. The award honors an "unheralded individual who has devoted a significant portion of their life to IndyCar racing while bringing unbridled passion and unrelenting work ethic to enrich the sport."

The late motorsports journalist Miller received the inaugural award in 2019, followed by TV and radio sports announcer Bob Jenkins in 2021. Two IndyCar race team communications managers received the award last year: Judi Kouba of Chevrolet and the late T.E. McHale of Honda.

Porsche, Deluxe Corporation Expand Female Driver Development Program

Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) has announced Deluxe Corporation has expanded the Porsche Deluxe female driver development program with two more drivers, Chloe Chambers and Madeline Stewart.

Chambers and Stewart are the recipients of the program's scholarship, which includes a full-season entry with Sabré Cook in the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama. Additionally, they each receive one set of Yokohama race tires each event weekend, as well as direct access to PMNA competition advisor and Porsche Junior Program North America driving coach Patrick Long.

For more racing news, visit Performance Racing Industry's (PRI) website.

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 11:30

By SEMA Editors

Kyle Petty Charity Ride

Officials with the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America have announced it raised more than $1.7 million following the 27th Anniversary Ride, which took place on April 29-May 5. Funds directly benefit Victory Junction, a camp in Randleman, North Carolina, serving children with chronic medical illnesses.

Former NASCAR driver and racing analyst Kyle Petty led more than 125 motorcycles across more than 1,500 miles of picturesque scenery in Utah and Nevada, including the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

The Ride's donation supports summer camperships, building projects and maintenance programs, including the upkeep of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Water Park.

Victory Junction has served as the Ride's primary beneficiary since its establishment by Petty and his family in 2004 in honor of his late son, Adam. Since it began in 1995, the Ride has raised more than $21 million for Victory Junction and other children's charities. As a result, the Ride has helped Victory Junction mobilize resources to provide over 115,000 camp experiences for children of all levels of abilities who are living with complex medical conditions at no cost to their families.

For more information, read the announcement here or visit and

Kyle Petty Charity Ride