By Juan Torres
Austin Haynes won the Young Guns category at the Street Machine Summer Nationals in St. Paul, Minnesota, last July, and will participate in the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition during the 2017 SEMA Show.
For 24-year-old Austin Haynes, winning the Young Guns category at the Street Machine Summer Nationals in St. Paul, Minnesota, last July will result in a dream come true. That’s because for his victory, he was awarded an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas to participate in one of the industry’s most prestigious vehicle-build competitions—SEMA Battle of the Builders—during the trade-only 2017 SEMA Show, October 31–November 3.
“I have never been to the SEMA Show; it’s something I read about in magazines and watched on TV, but would only dream about,” Haynes said. “Winning the SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns title is completely unbelievable. It’s a dream come true. I never expected to win. I just saw it as an opportunity to get out there a little bit and show what I can do.”
Haynes’ ’70 Chevy C-10 will now go head-to-head against hundreds of vehicles from some of the world’s top builders in the exclusive competition. In addition, SEMA Battle of the Builders participants get a chance to participate in the SEMA Cruise during SEMA Ignited—the official SEMA Show after-party—and possibly be featured in the SEMA Battle of the Builders TV special, which makes it possible for consumers to connect with manufacturers and see the great new products and trends that debut at the SEMA Show.
Haynes acquired the C-10 when he was 15-years-old as a project for him to learn and put together a hot-rod truck.
“We pulled it out of a field, and it was in such bad shape that the seat fell through the floorboard when we took it to the shop,” Haynes said. “It had a motor, but it didn’t work. I did the bodywork, console, suspension, cut the bedwood, everything, and it wasn’t really done until I was 20–21.”
The build process not only taught Haynes the tools and skills of the build trade but also how to be patient.
“I did everything on the truck myself, but a lot came following the advice of others who would help guide me and then would come back and point out my mistakes,” he said. “Building the C-10 gave me the chance to learn from others with more experience. It showed me that a little hard work and dedication could result in something worthwhile.”
In an effort to support young builders and recognize them as the future of the industry, SEMA created the Young Guns regional program this year and partnered with car shows to highlight builders 27-years-old or younger, six of whom will be sent to the 2017 SEMA Show.
“We partnered with Bonnier due to the excellence of their shows, including the Street Machine Summer Nationals, and to recognize and encourage participation of young builders from around the country,” said SEMA Vice President of Marketing, PR and Communications Ira Gabriel. “The youth are essential to our industry. There are many amazing and talented younger enthusiasts and vehicle builders who can look to the SEMA Show and Battle of the Builders and get excited about our industry.”
Haynes is now looking forward to not only attending the SEMA Show, but also participating in it.
“I’m not sure what to expect; I plan to hang out and enjoy it,” he said. “I look forward to meeting individuals with the same passion for cars. I want to see their builds, their work and learn ideas from them. At small car shows, you see amazing builds, but always know there is another level of car builds and craftsmanship; the SEMA Show is that next level. I’m just a small-town boy who baled hay to earn extra money to build my truck. Just going to the SEMA Show and competing in Battle of the Builders is a dream come true. I would probably stop breathing if I won.”