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:
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.
The founder and CEO of Superior Industries, Lou Borick radiates the spirit of entrepreneurship. He started his company, Superior, with the design and production of alloy custom wheels. But today Superior wheels are found on tens of thousands of production-line new cars.
The automotive performance industry lost a spirited entrepreneur when Dan Borre died of natural causes at an early age. He had worked as a marketing specialist and was employed at Keith Black Racing Engines at the time of his passing.
Jim A. Borre
Borre 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, Borre advanced to president of Sperex VHT Corp., a position he held for 17 years. Borre was the CEO of Manik Motors, a major national supplier of truck accessories. Borre’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.
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.
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.
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.
Performance Warehouse Association (PWA)
PWA is an organization of specialty automotive parts wholesalers joined together and dealing with management, financial and legislative matters which represent the United States, Canada and International. Founded in 1971, PWA today leads the industry in jobber/retailer support programs.
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.