Constructing Automotive Works of Art

SEMA News—December 2013

EVENTS
By Chad Simon

Constructing Automotive Works of Art

Builder’s Challenge Features Increasingly Complex Pinewood Hot Rods Designed for Charity

  G3 Rods

G3 Rods 

   

Ten of the nation’s best custom-car and hot-rod builders created miniature pinewood hot rods that lit up the track this past summer at the fourth-annual Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) Pinewood Builder’s Challenge during SEMA’s Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, which was held July 26 at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center in Pomona, California. Just before the banquet started, the hot rods raced against each other to benefit two children’s charities. The cars were autographed by the builders and displayed in HRIA booth at the 2013 SEMA Show.

An incredible class of hot-rod builders participated in the HRIA Builder’s Challenge, but Derek White of Street Vizions successfully defended his title in the end, winning the race series for the fourth consecutive year. His car this year was a John Menzler tribute—a “Menzler Racing” hi-boy-style coupe. Keith Kaucher of Kaucher Kustoms was the runner-up, followed by the Mickey Thompson Challenger I replica built by Doug Dwyer of Essential Marketing Services.

“We like doing the SEMA Pinewood Builder’s Challenge because it benefits SEMA Cares charities, and it’s also fun to compete against everybody,” said Brigit White of Street Vizions. “This car was special because it was made for my friend John Menzler. If it weren’t for him, we would not be competing.”

Kindig It Design 
Kindig It Design

 

 Johnson Hot Rods
Johnson Hot Rods

     

Dwyer added, “The Pinewood Drag Races just happened to be compatible with my interest in model building. The first car I built was the Chrisman Coupe, because Art Chrisman is from my home town of Compton, and I have been friends with him for many years. Art gave me some of the actual paint from the real car. He signed it for the auction, which raised several hundred dollars. This year’s car was Mickey Thompson’s Challenger I, and his son Danny Thompson signed it for the auction.

 

Doug Poad
Doug Poad

   
 

Spanky’s Hot Rods & Customs
Spanky’s Hot Rods & Customs 

   
 

Kaucher Kustoms
Kaucher Kustoms

Participating builders included industry luminaries B Rod or Custom, Essential Marketing Services, G3 Rods, Johnson Hot Rods, Kaucher Kustoms, Kindig It Design, Performance Associates, Doug Poad, Spanky’s Hot Rods and Street Vizions.

During the HRIA reception at the SEMA Show, the Best Engineered (Johnson Hot Rods), Best in Show (B Rod or Custom) and the race winner (Street Vizions) were auctioned live, and a silent auction was slated for the rest of the Pinewood Builder’s cars. Proceeds will benefit the SEMA Cares charities.

“Many of us can admire the amazing creations from some of the industry’s best custom-car and hot-rod builders from afar,” said Eric Saltrick of Steele Rubber Products and one of the event’s founders.

“But the HRIA Pinewood Builders Challenge auction allows all of us to own a one-of-a-kind custom car from these builders. They are the ones we see on television and in magazines winning national awards and recognition for their large-scale works of automotive art.”

In addition to supporting the charities, the builders showcase their creations throughout the year to children interested in cars, providing an opportunity to expose the hot-rod hobby and custom-car industry to the next generation of car builders.

“The cars in the Builder’s Race are true, one-of-a-kind pieces of art that reflect the passion, creativity and ingenuity of the builders,” said Dave Williams of Rampage Products, who served as the race organizer and trackside umpire.

“These qualities resonate with people when they see the cars.”

The race came to fruition at the 2009 SEMA Show when former HRIA Chairman Rick Love of Vintage Air and HRIA members Saltrick and Menzler (from Comp Cams) decided to walk the Show floor and ask every well-known hot-rod builder to participate.

The idea behind the first Challenge was simply to see what top-notch hot-rod builders could do with a block of wood, and they have pushed the boundaries of the rules every year.

The rules are simple and subject to interpretation. Each pinewood builder is given four months to complete a car, with no design limitations imposed except that the car has to fit the track’s dimensions and no propulsion systems are allowed.

Performance Associates
Performance Associates

 

B Rod or Custom
Street Vizions “Menzler Racing”

     
     
 

Essential Marketing Services’ Mickey Thompson Challenger I
Essential Marketing Services’ Mickey Thompson Challenger I

   

“Basically, each builder must use at least one piece of the pinewood block we provide, no matter how small a piece,” said Saltrick. “Over the years, builders have not only used the wood for their cars but also aluminum, fiberglass and chrome. They have fabricated custom wheels, suspensions and chassis parts in miniature formats. All of our participating builders have egos, and the Pinewood Challenge allows them to compete for bragging rights.”

 

Rate this article: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)