Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
March 6, 2015
Photos By: SEMA

The SEMA Show is an industry trade show where hundreds of automotive parts and accessories companies, both OE and aftermarket, gather in Las Vegas to show off their new products and services to parts distributors, wholesalers, parts and service shop owners, and the media. To everyone not working in the industry but nonetheless very interested in it, SEMA is seen as a Caligula-level orgy of car parts and one of the best car shows on the planet. It’s a car show because many of the manufacturers build cars to showcase their new wares, or they invite professional and amateur builders that they have worked with during the year to display their creations in that manufacturer’s booth at the show. The neat thing about SEMA is that it encompasses every type of automotive interest, from hard-core off-road trucks, to imports, hot rods, customs, bikes—you name it, if you have a kink for some weird kind of transportation there’s an example to ogle at the SEMA Show. Everyone is biased when it comes to the cars at any show—if you’re a fan of musclecars for example, you’ll search those out while probably ignoring the craftsmanship that went into a road race Porsche or a rock-crawler Jeep.

In an effort to showcase the different types of build styles in one place for all to see, SEMA created the first-ever Battle of the Builders Competition. More than 125 vehicle builders entered the competition and then three judges from the publishing world (David Freiburger from Hot Rod, Fred Williams from 4Wheel & Off Road, and Sam Du from Super Street magazines) walked the show and chose their top ten vehicles based on creativity, fabrication, function, and any other factors they deemed important. Included in the Top Ten were several musclecars, a few street rods, and two off-road trucks. The vehicles were gathered at SEMA Ignited, the Friday night after-show event (open to the public down the Strip from the Vegas Convention Center) for final judging, which was conducted by the guys who built those 10 vehicles. The only rule was that the judges couldn’t vote for themselves, and after checking out all the vehicles and arguing over their picks, they chose an overall winner.

You can find out who the winner was since SEMA filmed it all for the SEMA Battle of the Builders Competition television show premiering Sunday March 8 at 8:00pm (Eastern) on the Velocity Network. The TV special takes viewers behind the scenes of the inaugural competition and follows the builders along their journey to the world’s leading automotive trade event. Check it out.

The SEMA Battle of the Builders Competition television special premier took place at SEMA’s headquarters in Diamond Bar, California on the Thursday night before the show’s first airing on the Velocity Channel. Seen here from left to right are builder Mike Ring (Ringbrothers), SEMA President and show co-host Chris Kersting, co-host Adrienne “AJ” Janic, and builders Troy Ladd (Hollywood Hot Rods), Kyle Tucker (Detroit Speed), and Steve Strope (Pure Vision).
The “screening room” was one of the photo coves at SEMA’s facility.

Top Ten Builders
Bobby Alloway, Louisville, TN ’37 Chevy Coupe
Gordon Aram, Bend, OR ’78 Ford Mustang II
Ringbrothers, Spring Green, WI ’66 Chevy Chevelle
Dale Dondel, San Jacinto, CA ’14 Ford Raptor pre-runner
Rick Dore, Carlsbad, CA ’48 Jaguar
Jeff Kinsey, Cumby, TX ’32 Ford 4-door sedan
Troy Ladd, Burbank, CA ’32 Ford roadster
Larry McRae, Banning, CA Jeep JK
Steve Strope, Simi Valley, CA ’67 Ford Black Ops Fairlane
Kyle Tucker, Mooresville, NC ’69 Chevy Camaro