HRIA Takes Center Stage at the SEMA Show
|The annual Hot Rod Builder’s Panel is a big draw. Last year’s participants, shown here (left to right), included Troy Trepanier, Steven Cook, Bobby Alloway, Kyle Tucker, Rick Love and Brian Brennan.|
Hot rods have played a prominent role at the SEMA Show for decades. Old-timers will recall the days when a slew of rods took up a substantial swath of space in the North Hall, along with the stellar feature vehicles displayed at what was then known as the Street Rod Marketing Alliance Awards Banquet.
Though the council long ago changed its name, the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) continues to have a conspicuous presence at the SEMA Show, both on and off the exhibit floor. From HRIA booth #23395—located in the Central Hall—to the council’s festive reception and the popular Hot Rod Builder’s Panel, there will be much for hot rodders to see and do at this year’s Show.
Catch the Action
HRIA and the Automotive Restoration Market Alliance (ARMO) jointly host shared exhibit space, affectionately known as “Central Park,” situated adjacent to the two segment-specific sections—Hot Rod Alley and Restoration Marketplace. All things being equal, each council showcases three vehicles.
The HRIA vehicles selected for display not only help to promote awareness of the hobby but also elevate the profile of the participating hot-rod builders, exposing their talents and creativity to thousands of Showgoers. At the same time, the exhibit focuses attention on the products installed on the vehicles, spotlighting the supporting HRIA-member companies exhibiting in Hot Rod Alley.
In keeping with tradition, two of the vehicles—one representing HRIA and the other ARMO—remain covered until their unveiling on the opening day of the Show.
While the vehicles themselves are a big draw, the booth also serves as a gathering spot for HRIA members and nonmembers to relax on comfy seating, mingle with ARMO colleagues, inquire about council membership, and get acquainted with the builders and HRIA select committee members, as well as SEMA staff.
“It’s a great gathering spot—a place for people to stop by and learn more about HRIA,” said former council chair Rick Love of Vintage Air. “The vehicles do a really good job of representing the hot-rod industry and products in Hot Rod Alley.”
Celebrate the Hot-Rod Industry
HRIA pulls out all the stops at its annual awards reception. Held on Wednesday evening at the Westgate Paradise Center, the eagerly awaited event—which last year raised more than $11,000 in sponsored tables to benefit the SEMA Memorial Scholarship fund—typically draws an enthusiastic audience of more than 400 hot-rod industry professionals.
Billed as the prime networking event of the year, the reception traditionally kicks off with an honor guard trooping of the colors, followed by the national anthem. As attendees mingle with industry friends and colleagues, enjoy snacks and beverages and ogle the eye-catching display vehicles, the awards program kicks into high gear, with emcee Rick Love introducing the newest crop of HRIA award winners.
Each year, HRIA presents four awards: Hall of Fame, Chairman’s Award, Industry Recognition and Business of the Year. The awards acknowledge industry leaders for their superior achievements and notable contributions to the hot-rod industry.
Last year, RideTech’s Tom Vogele and Bret Voelkel were inducted in the hall fame. The HRIA Chairman’s Award was presented posthumously to John Menzler of Comp Performance, while John Drummond of Goodguys Rod & Custom Association walked off with the Industry Recognition award. The Business of the Year award went to Bowler Performance Transmissions.
To find out whom this year’s honorees will be, you’ll need to show up at the HRIA Awards Reception.
Join the Hot Rod Builder’s Panel
One of HRIA’s most popular activities is the annual Hot Rod Builder’s Panel. Want insider tips and tricks on how to become a successful builder? Interested in learning about the latest trends, hearing stories of days gone by and getting a chance to ask the experts pressing questions? Then the Hot Rod Builder’s Panel, slated for 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 7, is the place to be.
As of press time, the panel, moderated by Vintage Air’s Rick Love, is set to feature some of the industry’s foremost builders, including Bobby Alloway of Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop, Kyle Tucker of Detroit Speed and Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy. Well-known street-rod journalist Brian Brennan of Street Rodder will also be on board.
“The Builder’s Panel is a fun environment, and we always have a good group,” Love said. “The guys get along well. There’s a lot of storytelling and joking around with one another. They talk about trends. They share advice for young builders and other professionals. And, of course, we encourage audience participation—a chance for them to ask questions. It’s very interactive, and we always get a really good turnout.”