Cover Story

Gray Baskerville, Art Chrisman, Chris Economaki and John Towle Join the SEMA Hall of Fame Elite 

For the true automotive pioneer, trailblazing is its own reward. You don’t race, tinker, invent and innovate with an eye toward peer accolades. You push the envelope for the sheer thrill of it—it’s who you are, what drives you, it’s the challenge that fires your soul.




  • The collaboration between the automotive specialty-equipment industry and the collision repair segment continues to increase, a fact that is reflected in the growing footprint of the newly branded Collision Repair & Refinish section of the 2011 SEMA Show. The new section—an expansion of the previously established Paint, Body & Equipment area—is one of 12 sections that will house exhibitors during the event at the Las Vegas Convention Center over November 1–4, 2011. The name change more accurately reflects the growing presence of the collision repair market, and more companies had already committed to exhibiting in the new section at press time for this issue than were present in the Paint, Body & Equipment section in 2010.

Chris Kersting

  • One might argue that the single most significant year-round benefit for SEMA members is our ongoing work in government affairs. What’s clear, however, is that having an effective presence on national and state levels has made an important difference for SEMA members and the specialty-equipment industry as a whole. To support this important strategic initiative, SEMA maintains a dedicated and well-connected team in Washington, D.C., working to make member voices heard on regulatory and legislative issues that affect a range of market niches.

Government Affairs

  • SEMA places a wealth of legislative/regulatory information at your fingertips to help your business succeed. All of the material can be accessed through the government affairs page on the SEMA website ( The legislative and regulatory materials are also posted on the SEMA Action Network (SAN) website ( as a way to involve your customers, the enthusiast community. Here are some highlights of the materials you’ll find in the government affairs toolbox:

  • The laws and regulations that govern how SEMA members do business will always have a significant impact on the way automotive specialty-equipment products are made, distributed and marketed. SEMA has a proven legislative and regulatory program led by a fulltime professional staff based in Washington, D.C., that continually works on behalf of the membership. The program includes a number of components that together have resulted in a long list of successes of significant benefit to the industry.

  • For almost a decade, there had not been an affordable test protocol for
    certifying emissions-related, on-road diesel parts or systems in
    California. During a portion of that time, SEMA engaged in the
    development of a test method (as an alternative to the very costly
    engine dynamometer protocol required of the diesel OEMs) that would
    allow California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Orders (EOs) to be
    completed without imposing significant financial burdens on applicants.

  • Vehicle Equipment Standards and Inspections: State policy makers
    continue to revise and update equipment and inspection standards—often
    with a bias toward the vehicle manufacturer’s original equipment, such
    as lighting, tires and wheels, suspension components and bumper/frame
    height. SEMA opposes arbitrary and unnecessarily restrictive equipment
    and inspection procedures.

  • The last year has been successful for the SEMA Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC), thanks in large part to the vital contributions SEMA members have provided. From securing the repeal of the health-care law’s 1099 reporting requirement to preventing the mislabeling of ethanol content in gasoline, preserving the right to off-road recreation and securing a U.S. Senate Resolution recognizing collector cars, the PAC has addressed issues that have a direct effect on how SEMA members run their businesses and has been an important tool in these victories. With an election year approaching, all SEMA members should learn about SEMA PAC and become involved.

  • When we think of trends, undercarriage neon lighting, spinners and European-style taillamps spring to mind. Trends develop over time and contribute to movements in design, industry, fashion, entertainment and even legislation. In reacting to trends, legislatures tend to create many of their own. The following trends are currently being pursued by state legislatures across the country and on the national stage. These legislative and regulatory trends do more than create laws to which the industry must comply; they provide insight into underlying conditions that have fueled their creation.

  • In its daily efforts to promote and protect the auto hobby, SEMA continues to partner with state lawmakers from across the country through the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. Celebrating its six-year anniversary, the caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers whose common thread is a love and appreciation for automobiles.

  • The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is a nationwide partnership between enthusiasts, vehicle clubs and members of the automotive specialty-equipment industry who have joined forces to promote hobby-friendly legislation and oppose unfair legislation. With more than 60,000 individual members from all 50 states and Canada, the SAN is the premier organization defending the rights of vehicle enthusiasts—the same enthusiasts who comprise the United States and Canadian customers who drive industry sales. The SAN has a proven record for achieving legislative successes through its members’ passionate response to the hundreds of federal and state bills each year that directly affect all aspects of the automotive hobby, including the ability to purchase, install and operate vehicles with aftermarket parts.

  • No one appreciates victory more than those who have been near defeat,
    and no one appreciates help more than those who have nearly fallen. As
    part of this issue is devoted to legislative and regulatory themes, we
    asked executives from SEMA-member companies to comment on some of the
    programs that have helped them overcome adversity and improve the
    marketplace for both the industry and the consumers who benefit from it.

  • A year ago, we wrote a column discussing the divided American political landscape in which voters were attempting to find the “change” for which they voted. The public clearly was not prepared for the amount of spending pushed through Congress in 2009 to confront the recession and the resulting jobs loss. Having turned the tables in 2010 with an overwhelming shift in power, Washington politicians still seem to be struggling to understand what voters intend when they vote for “change.” In the coming months, perhaps the most important question to be answered by voters is what they expect the role of government to be.

Industry News

  • Toyota FT-86. Ford Escape, Chevrolet Sonic MPV, Dodge FIAT Compact

  • Nate Shelton of B&M Automotive Group was elected chairman-elect of SEMA and will join five newly elected Board of Directors members to help lead the association in the 2011–2012 term. Shelton fills the position that was held for the past two years by Scooter Brothers of Comp Performance Group. Brothers begins serving as chairman at the association’s summer Board meeting in July. The newly elected Board volunteers include Tim Martin of K&N Engineering; Steve Wolcott of ProMedia LLC; Jim Chick of Bestop Inc.; J.R. Moore of Performance Warehouse; and Greg Adler of Transamerican Auto Parts.


  • In a closely watched case, a German court has, for the second time in two years, sided with a consumer who sued for the right to install aftermarket carbon-fiber wheels on his motorcycle. The German state of Baden-Württemberg denied the consumer an operating license, with the following note in the appeal documents: “Upon retrofitting carbon fiber wheels, the motorcycle no longer conforms” and “the operating permit of the individual vehicle is forfeited pursuant to the German Road Traffic Admission Regulation….”


  • Businesses that are uneasy about the increasing frequency of unsolved hacker cases can take heart: With a bit of forward planning, you can significantly reduce your vulnerability to a computer break-in via the Internet.

New Products


    As technology evolves, the term “mobile electronics” becomes somewhat ambiguous. A few years ago, it clearly referred to automobile electronics. But with the advent of cell phones, portable navigation, electronic gaming and portable DVD—among multitudes of other evolving systems—mobile electronics now also refers to any self-contained electronic device that can be easily transported. One of the major trends rippling through the automotive specialty-equipment industry is the merging of the two definitions.

  • While “restoration” once referred to using only original or reproduction parts, the industry has come to also embrace the idea of mild modifications to classic vehicles. There is still a definite differentiation between a “restomod” and an all-out hot rod, but the lines have been subtly blurred.

    This compilation of restoration products that were introduced at the 2010 SEMA Show runs the gamut from traditional numbers-matching reproductions to modernization components for handling and power. We’ve also interspersed comments from the owners and executives of some of the industry’s leading restoration specialists. Both say a lot about how the marketplace has changed.

  • Every business involved in the automotive specialty-equipment market has at least one thing in common: They all want to develop the most efficient way to provide customers with top-quality parts, assemblies or services. Finding the right tool for the right job can go a long way toward fulfilling that goal.

Required Reading

  • While the 2011 SEMA Show is still a few months away, it’s important to look back at the previous year to gauge the direction the industry is heading. Below are a couple of noteworthy articles that indicate an upward trend. Read what these publications had to say about previous SEMA Shows, and expect more coverage from these and other magazines as they report on the 2011 event taking place in November.

SEMA Heritage

  • In November 1965, jet cars were making all the headlines at the Bonneville salt flats. Craig Breedlove, Art Arfons and brother Walt Arfons continued a battle for the overall land speed record that had started two years earlier when Breedlove became the first to go more than 400 mph in the Spirit of America. Somewhat outside of the media’s glare were two brothers, Southern California hot rodders Bob and Bill Summers, who were aiming to take the 403-mph wheel-driven speed record from Brit Donald Campbell and his million-dollar, turbine-powered Bluebird.