The SEMA Battle of the Builders (BOTB) has become one of the top competitions in the custom-car builder community, with more high-quality entries than ever. Interest in this year’s edition was at an all-time high, with more than 250 vehicles entered from all market segments, including trucks, hot rods, street rods, off-road, motorsports, sport compacts, luxury exotics and more. New this year was the Young Guns distinction for builders who were 34 years old and under. The competition was open to any builder with a display, feature or booth vehicle at the SEMA Show.
The core mission of SEMA is to help its members succeed and prosper, and a spirit of volunteerism permeates that mission. To grow the automotive specialty-equipment industry and address the broad range of issues facing association members, SEMA continues to rely on the vision and leadership of dedicated individuals from every industry segment who give freely of their time and energy for the benefit of all. In that spirit each year, SEMA bestows its highest honor—the Person of the Year Award—on an individual who embodies the association’s mission. For 2016, that person is Tim Martin of K&N Engineering.
As we have come to expect, the Show offered both the original and the improved, the ingenious and the astonishing, and it housed an unprecedented array of business possibilities and enlightening educational opportunities. Too, the Show this year was tinged with nostalgia and memories of the past, even as it was rich in optimism for the future.
Over the past five decades, SEMA has become world renowned for its annual SEMA Show, but its core mission as a trade association goes much further, extending benefits 365 days a year. To help its members succeed and prosper, SEMA’s year-round work extends to legislative and industry advocacy, the promotion of technology and innovation, market research, education, member services and a host of other important initiatives to encourage marketplace growth. Those goals take leadership, and each year, the SEMA Installation Gala gathers the association together to install newly elected SEMA Board of Directors and council members, say thanks to outgoing officers, and celebrate SEMA’s latest Hall of Fame inductees.
A major factor in the vitality and growth of the association was the advent of the annual SEMA Show. In 1965 and 1966, Noel Carpenter, publisher of Speed Equipment Directory, produced an industry-wide exposition that was initially promoted as a chance for the speed-equipment manufacturers to showcase new products. While the shows were not sponsored by SEMA, the association did receive a share of the profits from the 1966 gathering.
The 2016 SEMA Show is rapidly taking shape, with an expanded menu of demonstrations, seminars, special events and other new opportunities for Show attendees to soak up the full potential of the automotive aftermarket. With each passing year, the association team responsible for the SEMA Show sharpens its commitment to making the Show the ultimate venue for the specialty parts industry to do business and keeping the Show in tune with the latest concepts and technologies. With that in mind, we offer the following sneak peek at some of the must-see features at the 2016 SEMA Show.
In what has become a highly anticipated September tradition, SEMA News is once again pleased to present the annual “35 Under 35” listing of rising industry talent. This marks the fifth anniversary of this special feature, and we think readers will agree that the young trendsetters profiled in the following pages once again prove that the future of the automotive specialty-equipment industry is in extremely capable hands.
By definition, the SEMA Hall of Fame was created to recognize outstanding persons in the automotive specialty industry whose creativity, dignity, integrity, industriousness and accomplishments, on a national basis, have enhanced the stature of, and significantly contributed to, the industry’s growth. Established in 1969, the award is the automotive aftermarket industry’s highest honor.
More than 90 SEMA members and staff from across the United States traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 11 as part of the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally. Attendees focused much of their advocacy efforts on the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, urging their members of Congress to demonstrate support for the motorsports industry by co-sponsoring the bill. These efforts were not only well received but also produced immediate results. Within days of the visit, several members of Congress agreed to co-sponsor the RPM Act as a result of the meetings they had with SEMA members.
Industry stalwarts unanimously agree that the hot-rod market is as healthy as it’s ever been. The economy is stronger than it was at this time last year, and consumers have more discretionary income to spend on their toys, partially due to low fuel prices. Although hot rodding—in the most traditional sense—is predominately embraced by aging enthusiasts, the options are diverse, and getting broader.
“Last year’s Battle of the Builders competition at the SEMA Show represents how healthy the market is,” said Rick Love, Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) past chairman and executive vice president of Vintage Air. “There were excellent examples of all the different vehicle genres to pick from. Everybody in the hot-rod industry is busy; they have more work than they can do and would like to hire more qualified people.”