Showing 10 of 174

2009 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Rolan "Jeep"  Worthan

Rolan "Jeep" Worthan

Auto Meter Products, Inc.

Let’s start with the nickname. “That’s a question that’s been asked of me more times than I can count,” Jeep Worthan said with a laugh. “My mom gave it to me as a baby, though she claimed she could never remember why. Maybe it was because I looked like one when I crawled around on all fours. Or maybe it had something to do with my conception.” He paused. “That usually gets a chuckle.”

Currently (as of 2009) the vice president of marketing/sales for Auto Meter Products Inc., Worthan was a Chicago-area racer and enthusiast before he knew there was an aftermarket parts industry. By chance, he spotted an ad in the Chicago Tribune classifieds for a job at Auto Meter while recuperating from knee surgery in early 1974. He joined the company that April, and he’s been there ever since.

“In the early ’70s, Auto Meter was truly unknown,” Worthan recalled. “Everyone, including me, was using a Sun tach and Stewart Warner gauges.”

Immediately Worthan went into sales, using his experience as a racer to introduce fellow racers to Auto Meter’s products.

“I always had a love of going fast; that was my advantage,” he explained. “I had a passion and cared for the racer—the customer—and I would bring his needs back to the factory so the engineering team could develop products that the racers would want to buy.”

That strategy launched what Worthan considers the most significant product in his Auto Meter career: the Monster Tach. In 1977, Worthan took a “tach tester,” which incorporated the new electric tach, to race tracks around the country. Ostensibly, the tester would help racers calibrate their own tachometers, but once they saw how responsive Auto Meter’s gauge was compared to their own, “they became new believers,” Worthan said. “That product really helped us penetrate into racing and got the ball rolling.”

Worthan brought that same level of enthusiasm to SEMA after he experienced his first SEMA Show with Auto Meter.

“Up to then, my experience had been as a user of performance products, and suddenly here I was on the other side of the fence,” he said. “I immediately fell in love with the industry.”

It wasn’t long before he made friends in the association, one of whom was a member of the Board of Directors.

“He told me how much he enjoyed it and that I’d be perfect for it. So in the early ’80s I got on the board, and I’ve been heavily involved ever since.”

As of 2009, Worthan has served eight terms on SEMA’s Board of Directors. “Eight and counting,” he said. “I’m running again.” He has also been involved with a number of SEMA’s councils and had a hand in the formation of the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC). He’s currently an active member of MPMC, the Young Executives Network and the Hot Rod Industry Alliance, and he is the SEMA Board liaison for the MPMC. He has also been recognized by the Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) as its Person of the Year, and Auto Meter has been PWA Manufacturer of the Year four times during his tenure with the company.

“Jeep’s eighth term on the Board of Directors only scratches the surface of his involvement,” said Ron Funfar of Hedman Hedders. “He has either served on or chaired nearly every SEMA committee—many more than once. He was a charter member of the World Motorsports Society and was influential in the formation of what is now SEMA News.

“It’s not often that a person’s name is synonymous with the company he works for, but when someone says ‘Auto Meter,’ the first thing that comes to mind is Jeep Worthan,” Funfar added. “Jeep’s love and passion for this industry are unparalleled. You will not find an individual more deserving than Jeep to be inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame.”

2005 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Paul "Scooter" Brothers

Paul "Scooter" Brothers

Competition Cams

Since he was old enough to walk, Paul "Scooter" Brothers has been hanging around cars. His father was a mechanic his entire life and, as a result, Brothers was exposed to the wonderful world of automobiles at a very young age.

Brothers said that he was given his nickname when he was a newborn. A hospital staff member observed him trying to "scoot" across his bassinet in the post-delivery room. "Scooter" has been with him ever since.
Brothers' love of the automobile was fed by spending his after-school time, summers and weekends helping his father, who owned his own repair shop. While his father never really caught the racing bug, Brothers noted that it happened to him in high school. "I guess I got somewhat poisoned by the race stuff," Brothers said. "In the late '60s, I began hanging out with some of the guys who had started a company called Racing Head Service (RHS). I started getting involved and started going to races."

His racing and performance aspirations were put on hold for four years when he was drafted into the service. He spent his time in the Navy working on engines on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. When he returned, he went back to work for RHS and picked up where he left off. He's been in the performance automotive business ever since.

"When I got out of the service, I started racing NHRA Super Stock for five or six years," Brothers said. "It came to a point where I had to make a decision-I had to decide what I was going to be good at. Thankfully, I decided that business was more important than play. So I went down the business path, and it fortunately worked out pretty good for us."

Part of the success that Brothers has been associated with includes starting the mail-order business while at RHS. "In the early years at RHS, we actually were one of the first in the mail-order world," he said. "I think Summit and Jeg's were in their infancy at that point. People continued to push product through the normal three-tier distribution system, and we went mail-order and bragged about it and beat our chests to try and get things done."

The company turned its attention to crate engines in the mid '80s. "Way back then, we were doing 2,500 engines a year," Brothers said. "We were the first mail-order engine place that I know of."

Brothers' responsibilities and duties changed when he made the move to Competition Cams in the late '80s. The two companies had common ownership at that time, so the move was a change of duties, not employers. "I moved from RHS over to Comp and began a fairly intensive R&D program," he said. "We hired some engineers and began looking into the future. Shortly after that, we sold RHS."

Brothers has been with the company for 35 years. "We had someone retire the other day that had been here for 25 years," he said. "I thought that sounded old until I remembered how long I'd been around here."

Brothers got involved with SEMA roughly 10 years ago. After working with the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council, he was asked by Chuck Blum to get involved in the very early phase of what would become the Technology Transfer program. "We were just conceiving the program, and were trying to get Ford to agree to participate," Brothers said. "That was probably the first involvement I had with SEMA that really made a difference."

While Brothers acknowledges his father as being the biggest influence in his life, he's quick to also give credit to other individuals in the industry who influenced his career. "There have been a lot of people in our industry, but John McWhirter, who was one of the original partners in RHS, was an early mentor to me," he said. "He took me under his wing and taught me some things about business that continue to be very profound today. Ron Coleman has also been a good friend and business partner and taught me how to be successful in business."

"It sounds corny, but you become the people you surround yourself with," Brothers noted. "I firmly believe that this is not a product or an individual business; this is a team business. And I'm so absolutely busting out with pride with the people that we have here at all the Comp companies. They help me look good, and they allow me to take the credit for a lot of the things they do. I really don't do anything other than give them the tools to go do their job-and then probably one of the most important things I do is get out of their way and let them do their jobs."

When he was told that he had been chosen as a Hall of Fame recipient, Brothers' response was characteristically grounded and humble. "It's an honor to be selected," he said. "But on the other hand, it's hard to think that people would feel this way about you when you're just doing what you ought to do. I'm not doing anything special. I think they're just running out of people to talk about," he said.

 

1996 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Dick  Van Cleve

Dick Van Cleve

Van Cleve & Accociates

At Car Craft magazine, Dick was lauded as one of the top advertising reps; later, he was owner of Van Cleve & Associates, a marketing and advertising firm. He also served many years on the staff of SEMA; his work with the SEMA Golf Tournament to benefit the Scholarship Fund stands out as a career achievement. Dick also served as SEMA Vice President of Marketing in the late 1980s, and he was a devoted volunteer to PWA, where he was a Board member.

1996 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Jim  Kerr

Jim Kerr

Jim Kerr & Accociates

In the automotive parts and accessories business, Jim’s known simply as a “doer,” one who gets the job done. Jim has had a long and illustrious career in the specialty automotive market—Jim Kerr & Associates was formed in 1967, and he owned and operated his own rep agency, serving with Hurst Performance and representing the likes of Mr. Gasket, Lakewood, Hooker and Eelco. Jim became a SEMA member in 1968, and was also an MRC Select Committee member.

1997 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Don Prudhomme

Don Prudhomme

Don Prudhomme Racing

Don "The Snake" Prudhomme is recognized as one of the greatest drag racers of all time. In 1962, Don first made his mark in motorsports when he won the Top Fuel class at Smokers March Meet in Bakersfield, California. One of the most popular celebrities in all of drag racing —and one of the winningest Top Fuel drag racers in the country in the mid-1960s—Don has driven dragsters and Funny Cars, but his Hall of Fame honor came as a result of his work through the years to achieve improved safety through chassis and equipment design standards. The Snake is on the NHRA’s list of wins, earned consecutive Winston Series titles and broke the 250-mph barrier. He was inducted in the Hot Rod Hall of Fame, and was one of the first drivers to have his team become an active member of SEMA.

1997 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Dennis Holding

Dennis Holding

Direct Parts Inc.

As with so many of his associates in the specialty parts business, Dennis got his start because he had an interest in racing—drag racing to be specific. He owned a dragster that toured the NHRA circuit, and he later became involved in the international distribution of performance parts. Beyond his role as president of Direct Parts Inc., he has served many terms on the SEMA Board of Directors, was on the Executive Committee and many other SEMA committees, and acted as a consultant for SEMA on industry-related issues.

1997 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Charles R. Blum

Charles R. Blum

SEMA

Charles R. Blum, CAE, was appointed president of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in July 1980, where he served 22 years at the helm, until his retirement in 2002. As president and CEO, Chuck was responsible for all operational aspects of the Diamond Bar, Calif.-based specialty automotive trade organization.

An industry veteran, Chuck began his automotive career in sales at Keystone Wheels. He rose through the ranks to become vice president of sales and marketing, and distinguished himself by positioning the wheel company as a market leader. Prior to taking over the operations of SEMA, Chuck was an active member, serving on the Board of Directors and also in the elected position of Chairman of the Board.

Under his guidance, the association and the industry it serves experienced unprecedented growth, making it the largest automotive trade association in the world based on total dues-paying members. Today, SEMA offers an impressive array of educational, marketing, legislative and other business-related programs, all of which are in keeping with the association’s mission to help its members’ businesses succeed and prosper.

Chuck succeeded in strengthening the association's position as a major force in world trade, thereby providing SEMA-member companies with expanded trade opportunities through participation in foreign trade missions and expositions. SEMA maintains strategic relations with numerous foreign trade associations, and has overseas staff stationed in China.

In his role as president, Chuck also spearheaded the dynamic growth of the SEMA Show held annually in Las Vegas. From a small niche-market show, the SEMA Show has grown into an internationally recognized trade exposition with more than 2,200 companies occupying in excess of a million net square feet.

Chuck was a driving force in creating Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW). The resulting consolidation of aftermarket trade shows—which includes the concurrent SEMA Show and the AAPEX Show—has become one of the most important trade expositions on the international calendar of automotive events.

In 1990, Chuck was recognized by his peer group and given the designation of CAE, Certified Association Executive. This highly coveted recognition is sought after by all professionals engaged in association management. In 1998, in recognition of his lifelong contributions to SEMA and the specialty automotive industry, Chuck was inducted into the prestigious SEMA Hall of Fame.

Chuck, now president emeritus, retired from SEMA in July 2002. He remains active in the industry as a consultant. A long-time resident of southern California, Chuck has two children and four grandchildren.

1998 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - John  Scafidi

John Scafidi

Hurst Shifters

John was with Hurst Performance in the 1960s as a factory representative. His innovative style of selling and serving customers resulted in an industry standard that is used today by reps in their service policies to clients. John also earned a reputation as a mentor and role model to members of the industry.

1998 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Bill Hays

Bill Hays

Centerforce Clutches

Bill founded Hays Clutches in 1958. His contributions to racing clutch technology are legendary, including safety issues and innovative performance on street and track. His clutch designs carried over into other lines. Bill was also behind the technologies at Centerforce. His innovations were lauded with the SEMA Best New Performance Street Product Award and Hot Rod Magazine’s Best New Performance Product Award (for the Dual Friction design), and Centerforce has won PWA Manufacturer of the Year. Bill was also a URSS Rookie of the Year and raced go-karts, mini-sprints and 305 sprint cars.

1999 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee

 SEMA Hall Of Fame Inductee - Steve Woomer

Steve Woomer

Competition Specialties

Steve was founder and owner of Competition Specialties in Auburn, Washington, and was an active force in the industry. As Chairman of the Board of Directors of SEMA, he "took charge" and, working closely with then-President Charles R. Blum, encouraged unprecedented growth of the SEMA Show and the Association itself. Steve was an innovator, an enthusiastic supporter of racing and one of the performance industry's most dedicated entrepreneurs. Additionally, he was a SEMA Memorial Scholarship subfund sponsor, and in 1997 received the PWA Pioneer Award for his outstanding contributions to the development of the Warehouse Distributor in the specialty equipment industry.