Cover Story

SEMA Honors Nick Arias Jr., Bill France Sr., Mark Heffington and Bob Larivee Sr. With Hall of Fame Induction

For a chosen few, an obsession develops. Regardless of personal or professional success, this select group never stops raising the bar. Even when they take the checkered flag at the track or produce an event that attracts thousands of rabid fans or they literally break the mold when it comes to reinventing performance parts, it’s still not enough. There’s always room for improvement, and every person inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame spends a lifetime trying to find it.



  • It’s been a long time coming, but the SEMA Data Cooperative (SDC) beta phase is up and running at full speed, with more than 80 specialty parts companies participating.

Chris Kersting

  • Our primary mission here at SEMA is simple: to help our member businesses succeed and prosper. One of the most important ways we do that is through legislative and regulatory advocacy. In a nutshell, it’s our goal to make your voices heard.

    To that end, SEMA supports a dedicated and highly active team of government affairs experts on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. They’re focused on identifying and affecting issues that make a difference to your business.

Government Affairs

  • Some Legislative Proposals Follow Predictable Patterns

    Among the greatest challenges of any business is the effort and skill required to stay current or even ahead of what is popular. Predicting trends and following their progress are key elements to success not only in business, but also in politics. Just as businesses are subject to consumer sentiments and economic fluctuations, timely legislative initiatives and popular regulatory proposals can be shaped by any number of national variables and are often broadly applicable. The following are several important legislative trends affecting the automotive specialty-equipment industry that continue to feature prominently in state and federal government agendas.

  • Upcoming Election Is Yet Another Chance to End Partisan Gridlock

    In 2008 and 2010, voters sent a clear signal that “business as usual” in Washington—partisan gridlock, stagnant growth and increased spending—would no longer be tolerated. The American public vowed to remove from office those lawmakers who refused to accept the demands of the electorate. Despite this clear ultimatum, deep political divisions and gamesmanship rule Congress. As business owners struggle to create jobs and lead our economic recovery, lawmakers have squandered opportunities to provide a stable climate for growth.

  • How SEMA Represents Members as a Government Watchdog

    The laws and regulations that govern how SEMA members do business have a growing impact on the way automotive specialty equipment is made, distributed and marketed. SEMA has been a strong industry advocate on legislative and regulatory policies since its founding in 1963. SEMA continues to pursue federal, state and local laws that are limited, reasonable and, ultimately, help our members’ businesses succeed and prosper.

  • SEMA places a wealth of legislative/regulatory information at members’ fingertips to help their businesses succeed. All of the material can be accessed through the “government affairs” page on the SEMA website at The legislative and regulatory materials are also posted on the SEMA Action Network (SAN) website ( as a way to involve member-company customers, the enthusiast community.

  • SEMA maintains an experienced government affairs staff in Washington, D.C., to further the priority policies of the SEMA membership. Whether it is protecting a niche marketplace from an unnecessary regulatory burden or expanding sales opportunities through proactive legislation, the government affairs team is dedicated to helping members succeed and prosper.

  • SEMA Action Network Unites Hobbyists/Industry to Protect Automotive Rights

    The SEMA Action Network (SAN) represents the united voice of “car guys and gals.” This group 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 61,000 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 U.S. and Canadian customers who drive industry sales. The SAN has a proven record for achieving legislative successes on issues that directly affect all aspects of the automotive hobby, including the ability to purchase, install and operate vehicles with aftermarket parts.

  • SEMA’s government affairs and technical staff has a healthy agenda of regulatory issues that relate to and have impact upon the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Virtually every day, issues are addressed that can affect the short- and long-term interests of SEMA members and their customers. The following are some current and representative examples of challenges being routinely addressed.

  • Did you know that some lawmakers are big fans of collector cars, vehicle exhibitions and auto racing? Many of these U.S. representatives and senators have joined the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus. Likewise, state lawmakers have joined the companion State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus.

  • Priority Issues: State

    Accelerated Vehicle Scrappage: SEMA opposes scrappage proposals. Where proposals can’t be defeated, SEMA seeks to amend them to protect collector vehicles, focus on gross polluters, use measured emissions values, allow parts recycling and include repair/upgrade alternatives. Scrappage programs accelerate natural vehicle retirement by allowing for the purchase of older cars, which are then typically crushed into blocks of scrap metal.

  • Let’s be honest. Politics is something we all love to hate. However, over time and based on experiences with government on the local, state and federal levels, I have become educated to the fact that relationships built with government officials are vital to our industry’s continued existence.

Industry News

  • The following individuals were elected to seats on council Select Committees in the recent SEMA council elections. The new and re-elected incumbent Select Committee members will contribute significant time and effort during the next two years on projects and events to provide a benefit to SEMA-member companies.

  • Mercedes E-Class, Buick Drop Top, Aston Martin DB9 Successor, Honda Accord Coupe

  • Announcements from Performance Improvements, The Coker Group, Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), Prestolite Performance, LKQ Corp., and more.

  • Results of the 2012 SEMA Board of Directors election are in, with two new members joining the group and three members re-elected. The newest members of the group are Russell Stephens, representing the manufacturer category, and Nick Gramelspacher, representing the distributor/retailer category.


  • The Toyota HiLux is among the best-selling vehicles in the world—hitting more than 14 million units sold in 135 countries worldwide since its introduction. The 1-ton, double-cab, 4x4 pickup benefits from a reputation for reliability and sturdiness, and offers performance and appearance customization opportunities for a wide range of specialty-equipment manufacturers.


  • While there are any number of online services eager to manage your e-marketing for you, the downside to those services is cost. Unlike the one-time fees associated with PC-based software, online service billings generally recur monthly and never disappear. Not surprisingly, many small businesses are deciding to opt for PC-based e-mail marketing software instead, which starts at about $100. Such packages can be every bit as sophisticated as an online service while offering users much more control over how their data and analytics are managed.

New Products

  • From Model Ts to musclecars and beyond, the restoration of classic automobiles has been a thriving segment of the automotive specialty-equipment industry for decades. Dozens of new restoration products were introduced to warehouse distributors, jobbers and retailers at the 2011 SEMA Show, and the following pages contain a brief look at all of them, complete with contact information and, where applicable, part numbers.

Required Reading

  • The SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women is a unique project that has captured the media’s attention. Hundreds of outlets reported on the announcement that SEMA and Ford have partnered to have a new Mustang customized by a group of female volunteers. The completed vehicle will debut at the 2012 SEMA Show and will then be auctioned on eBay to benefit the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund.

SEMA Heritage

  • Given the explosion of sophisticated automatic transmissions in everything from Ferraris and Porsches to the new ZL1 Camaro, Roger Huntington, writing in the April 1967 issue of Car Craft magazine, could have been talking about today’s performance-car market:

    “Automatics are here to stay in high-performance American cars. And, in fact, the age-old manual four-speed might just be falling back a hair. A lot of hot dogs like the convenience of two-pedal driving, and it is pretty well established that an automatic is quicker away from the stoplight—other factors equal. This is becoming a very strong sales factor in today’s supercar market. More and more guys are going automatic on their hot street machines.”