The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Memorial Scholarship Founding Supporters are individuals or companies who have made a significant contribution to the scholarship or have made a unique impact on the specialty equipment market. Through awards in the names of each subfund sponsor, SEMA recognizes each individual’s or company’s contribution to the industry.
Those individuals and companies are as follows:
Joseph B. Amato, Sr.
One of the icons of the quarter-mile is all-time Top Fuel wins leader, Joe Amato. With a stunning 52 national event victories in 99 professional final round appearances and a legacy of five World Championships including an unprecedented three series titles in a row, Amato’s name and ever-smiling visage will forever be a part of straight-line racing. He's known throughout the NHRA as the "winningest driver in drag racing history," an achievement that results from tenacity and determination. Few drivers in the 50-year history of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) can truly be classified as legends of the sport.
Louis L. Borick
The founder and CEO of Superior Industries, Lou radiated the spirit of entrepreneurship. He started his company, Superior Industries International, with the design and production of alloy custom wheels. Today, Superior wheels are found on tens of thousands of production-line new cars. He had been on the company's board of directors since 1958, serving as chairman until 2007. Lou was also a major supporter of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund and one of the Scholarship's sub fund sponsors.
The automotive performance industry lost a spirited entrepreneur when Dan Borré died of natural causes at an early age. He had worked as a marketing specialist at Keith Black Racing Engines and as a SEMA Hall of Fame Inductee in 1990, Dan was also a generous supporter of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund as a sub fund sponsor.
Jim A. Borré
Jim Borré got his start more than 40 years ago as a teenage counterman at a neighborhood auto parts store. From the parts counter to management roles, Borré advanced to president of Sperex VHT Corp., a position he held for 17 years. Borré was the CEO of Manik Motors, a major national supplier of truck accessories. Borré’s affiliation with SEMA spans many years, including a seat on the SEMA Board of Directors, executive committee, active in the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) and he has been a major contributor to the progress and growth of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. Jim Borré was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2000.
Custom Automotive Network-CAN (formerly PWA)
Founded in 1970, CAN’s mission is to assist the specialty automotive industry in efforts to expand, maintain and promote the profitable distribution of custom automotive products through the manufacturer | distributor | retailer | consumer channel. CAN is a nonprofit organization of custom automotive parts distributors and resellers joined together to deal with management, financial and legislative matters. Supporting members include manufacturers, manufacturer’s sales representatives, retailers | jobbers, service providers and media publications.
The Nat Danas Scholarship is presented annually to students pursuing or advancing a career in the auto trim and restyling industry. Nat Danas was the founder and publisher of Auto Trim & Restyling News magazine. A restyling industry icon, Danas began his career in the 1940s as owner of an auto trim business. He founded the magazine in 1952 to serve the trim, restoration and restyling industries. In 1953 he formed the industry's first trade association, the National Association of Auto Trim Shops. Danas produced numerous trade shows and conferences showcasing emerging trim and restyling trends, and offering the industry's first formalized educational workshops and technical training clinics. He also pioneered the concepts of adherence to best practices and recognition of skill-level achievement through the establishment of a voluntary code of ethics and the Master Craftsman Award. In 1988, Danas was instrumental in founding the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO). He later worked with former SEMA President Chuck Blum to bring PRO under the SEMA umbrella in 1990. A long-time SEMA member, he served multiple terms on the PRO Select Committee, received the council's lifetime achievement award in 1995, helped to establish the restyling industry as a vital segment of the specialty automotive equipment marketplace.
Joe Hrudka: The entrepreneurial spirit has never emerged more explicit: Joe Hrudka, after driving a car in drag racing competition and working on Chevy engines for his race cars, acknowledged a universal need for quality, high-performance head gaskets. Earliest prototypes were built in his home basement in Cleveland, Ohio, giving birth to the Mr. Gasket Co.
Leo served many companies in the specialty aftermarket—Hurst, Amco and others—but it was his dedicated service to SEMA and the industry that will be remembered. It was Leo who, as president of SEMA, spearheaded the unprecedented growth of the annual SEMA Show, including pushing to have it moved from Anaheim, California, to Las Vegas. Leo held a seat on the SEMA Board of Directors, and proposed the creation of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. He was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 1982, named SEMA Person of the Year in 1994, and turned 100 years young in 2016.
K&N Engineering is the inventor and leading innovator of reusable cotton gauze filter technology for automotive applications. From humble beginnings as a family run business over 35 years ago, K&N Engineering, now a truly global company with offices in the U.K. and the Netherlands, continues to exist as a family owned business with an enthusiast mindset and a direct connection with motor sports that carries over throughout all levels of management and manufacturing. Today, K&N exists as both the sales and brand leader for performance filters, and maintains a stocking catalogue of over 3,500 part numbers.
Michael A. Kunzman
A car nut since the early 50’s, Mike became fascinated by the first lowered, louvered, dual exhaust smithy muffled Fords and Mercs while in grade school and he began working on a first gas powered lawn mower when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Mike began his career after graduating college with JC Penney Co., and came into their fledgling automotive parts and accessories department, where he created and developed their performance parts program, to be known as their AFX parts program. When he reached 50 stores, they were the largest seller of products such as Hurst, Cragar, American Racing Wheels, Hedman Hedders, Edelbrock, Grant, and many other lines. Mike now has the privilege of actually making a living, in the hobby he loves.
Menzler’s automotive career launched with a stint pumping gas at a Blakely station, but he transitioned to sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve Control Group, Rifle Specialty, from 1965 to 1967 and received an honorable discharge. By 1974, he was back in the automotive world, this time as a car salesman for a Chevrolet/GMC dealership. In 1978, he launched Inventive Marketing to focus on automotive-related parts, eventually adding Motofeet—a company known for its engine stand—under the same umbrella. Yet his calling seemed to be as a sales representative, working for companies such as Baer Brakes, Centerline Wheels, Dart Engines and Manley Performance. He took to volunteerism which included his passion for the SEMA Cares Pinewood Drag Races. Menzler eventually moved to COMP Performance Group, where he remained employed until his final days. Menzler’s honors included National Hot Rod Association Division 4 Person of the Year in 1988, the MPMC Industry Recognition Award in 2000, the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network Mentor of the Year and the MPMC Hall of Fame in 2010, the SEMA Person of the Year in 2011 and, posthumously, the inaugural Dick Dixon Legacy Award from the Hotrod & Restoration Trade Show.
The Jeff Moses Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) Scholarship Fund began in 2001 when the then ARMO Chairman Jeff Moses, Don Robertson, Jeff Davis, Terri Tomlin and Camille Randal, lost their lives when the airplane they were riding in went down. He was elected Chairman of the ARMO Select Committee and exhibited outstanding leadership qualities. By creating the Jeff Moses ARMO Scholarship Fund and awarding scholarships to those showing an interest and passion in the Restoration industry, it was the finest tribute possible to a truly great leader of the organization.
Appropriately lauded as the patriarch of the entire performance industry, Wally Parks was the first editor of Hot Rod magazine and the founder and CEO of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The beginning of hot rodding and drag racing spurred the start of an industry to serve a growing population of passionate, hands-on enthusiasts, the industry today guided by SEMA.
John B. Raffa
John B. Raffa was always eager to pass along the lessons he'd learned about journalism and editing, with drag racing being the ultimate beneficiary of his largesse. By 1967, Raffa was ensconced in the then-Petersen Publishing offices of Car Craft Magazine, where he quickly climbed the ladder from ME to Editor to ultimately, publisher. By 1985, he was back doing what he's always done like no one else in the history of drag racing photojournalism - teaching the younger staffers how to become not only better writers, but better reporters as well. Exciting stories about drag racing have definitely helped the sport reach a wider audience, and thanks to John Raffa, there are an increasing number of writers capable of producing them for years to come.
Mickey & Trudy (Feller) Thompson
Mickey Thompson, one of Motor Sports greatest innovators and drivers in the sport. He has raced in almost every form of Motor Sports possible. He was the innovator of the first Sling Shot dragster, the staging lights for drag racing and water barriers for auto crash protection. He did research and development for Chevrolet and the Aero Space Industry. He has patented numerous inventions, including the wide profile tire we use today. Gertrude “Trudy” Feller, wife of Mickey and employee of Hot Rod Magazine, was born in Brooklyn, New York on Oct. 4, 1946. Trudy was a tremendously loved member of the Thompson family and a wonderful asset to Mickey in his racing promotion career.
He was a true pioneer of products for off-road vehicles, the original designer of four-wheel drive hubs for Jeeps. Warn Industries, operated by son Michael, is best known today for its assortment of heavy-duty winches.
Phil Weiand's company got its start by producing heads and intake manifolds for flathead V8s during the early days of hot rodding. His company grew to become one of the foremost suppliers of speed equipment in the 1950s; it flourishes today, making a full assortment of products for early and late model engines.
Founder and owner of Competition Specialties in Auburn, Washington, until his death in 1998, Woomer was an active force in the industry. As SEMA Board Chairman, Woomer “took charge” and, working closely with former President Charles R. Blum, encouraged unprecedented growth of the annual SEMA Show and the association. Woomer was an innovator, an enthusiastic supporter of racing and one of the performance industry’s most dedicated entrepreneurs.
SEMA would also like to recognize Melvin Burton, Harlan Felder and Bernie Karp for their significant contributions to the specialty equipment market.
If you or your company is interested in becoming a SEMA Memorial Scholarship supporter and have a scholarship issued in your name, please contact SEMAEducation@sema.org or (909) 378-4862.