SEMA Heritage

Safety Pioneer

Bill SimpsonIt would be difficult to estimate how many lives have been saved and injuries averted (or at least minimized) by the pioneering work of Bill Simpson. Simpson, who passed away in December 2019, was one of a handful of members of the racing community who dedicated their lives to improving driver safety.

Real Long Test

HeritageAt first glance, this Motor Trend photo from 1959 looks like a very strange comparison test. Who would be cross-shopping a Volkswagen Beetle and a Corvette? And what’s that third vehicle hiding behind the other two?

Panel Painting

HeritageTrend-setting custom car builder Larry Watson is credited with creating the first panel paint job in 1958, when he tried to tone down the bright silver paint on his newly customized ’58 Thunderbird by covering several of the car’s body panels in metallic burgundy, leaving the silver to show through as accents.

Chassis Tips for Draggin’ 1961 Style

HeritageHot Rod Technical Editor Ray Brock was on hand to document the car club’s visit and explain why an automotive chemical manufacturer happened to have a late-model Ford display chassis at its headquarters. Brock wrote in an October 1961 article that Zecol “maintains a racing shop with three ’61 Ford stock cars to advertise and test their products under the most extreme conditions, stock car track racing on the Midwestern USAC circuit.” Though the company’s race efforts were stock-car oriented, a drag-strip chassis “was built up for display to assist the many young racing enthusiasts who daily stop by the Zecol shops to ask advice” from mechanics Newkirk and Harold Carlson.

Everybody Was There

HeritageFifty years ago, the Petersen Publishing Company magazine devoted to the business side of automotive enthusiasm devoted a large number of pages over two issues to cover the 1969 SEMA Show. The quotes reproduced above are the stories’ opening lines. Even five decades later, you can feel the adrenaline rush of enthusiasm and accomplishment the editors were experiencing on their first go-around with the coverage and how that rush transformed with a month’s hindsight into a less jubilant but more confident assessment of what went on at the Anaheim Convention Center in early January—and what it bode for the industry.

Grandfather of the C8 Corvette

HeritageThose who tuned in to the live-stream introduction of Chevrolet’s mid-engine C8 Corvette in July saw vintage footage of a single-seat roadster driving around GM’s Milford Proving Grounds and fishtailing up the dirt switchbacks of Pikes Peak. Chevy’s ’20 Corvette has roots back to that little car, the first Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle, or CERV I.

Monster Family

Bob ChandlerIt would be nearly impossible to pinpoint the one person who invented, say, drag racing or road racing or most of our popular motorsports, which typically evolved with input from many “fathers” over long periods of time. Not so monster truck racing. That entire phenomenon—part competition, part spectacle, part thrill show—can be laid at the feet of one man: Bob Chandler. And one truck: a blue ’74 Ford F-250.

Gold Country Classic

HeritageThis summer will mark the 66th year since a group of Georgetown residents looking to promote interest in their small Northern California town hosted the first Jeep Jamboree over the rocky Rubicon Trail. Since then, the owners of countless Jeeps—and Scouts, Broncos, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers and dedicated rock buggies—have made the trek, from first-timers crossing off a bucket-list rite of passage to family members following years of four-wheeling tradition.

Small Wonder

HeritageHot Rod—the bible of all-American, big-cube performance—allotted four pages of its July 1967 issue to a story on an import-car dealership in Riverside, California, that was on the cutting edge of a growing automotive phenomenon.

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