If you’ve ever been to SEMA, or even just heard stories from the event, you know that half the fun is the after-parties that happen all across the city every night after the show grounds have closed down. The folks at SEMA finally caught on to this and last year launched their own mega after-party to close out the annual show on Friday night. They call it SEMA Ignited and it’s essentially a car-lover’s dream party surrounded but some of SEMA’s finest custom rides.
Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher
SEMA Ignited has grown considerably over the last year and now includes not only massive amounts of SEMA Show rides, but also multiple music stages, a drag car cackle fest, food trucks and vendors, demonstrations from professional Formula DRIFT drivers, and the now annual, SEMA Battle of the Builders challenge. If you’re into cool rides, live music and some serious fun, SEMA Ignited is the place to be immediately following the official cruise out of the SEMA Show.
Battle of the Builders
For this year’s Battle of the Builders challenge, nearly 75 builders entered their rides to be judged against other amazing builds and builders from the show. SEMA first narrows them down to a “Top 10” and then just one builder ultimately being named the “Top Builder” of SEMA 2015. Of these 75 vehicle entries, the top 10 were selected and revealed during SEMA week.
The Camaro, which debuted in the GoPro booth last year, features custom carbon fiber front fenders, hood, nose, front and rear flares, rockers, and front and rear splitter and diffuser, as well as a 750hp LS engine and a 5-speed Jerico transmission. The pre-runner, which made its debut in the GoPro booth this year, features a custom Roadster Shop chassis with 27 inches of suspension travel, carbon fiber fenders and bedsides, and a potent 800hp LS engine.
Among the vehicles that were chosen for the Top 10 this year was Kyle Tucker’s 1970 Chevelle, featuring a complete Detroit Speed Engineering frame and suspension, supercharged LSX 427ci engine, 19 and 20-inch Forgeline wheels, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and a custom interior. The top 10 also included the Ringbrothers‘ full carbon fiber 1965 Mustang known as “Espionage,” which features a a 959hp Wegner Motorsports-built engine, Whipple supercharger, custom race-inspired interior and BASF Glasurit Spy Green paint; Ed Kozeluh’s 1995 Toyota Supra built by Twins Turbo Motorsports, featuring a custom engine setup with a V-mounted intercooler and radiator, as well as being detailed to the nines; Andy Leach’s 1962 Bel Air Bubble Top, which sports an Art Morrison chassis, supercharged LS9 engine, Bowler 6-speed transmission, a Recovery Room Hot Rod interior, and Charley Hutton body and paint; Ryan Basseri’s (owner of Rywire Motorsport Electronics) Japanese-imported Honda Integra Type R, which has been completely customized with every system redesigned and rebuilt for race readiness; and owner of the Roadster Shop, Jeremy Gerber’s one-off wide-body Camaro as well as his and Phil Gerber’s 2015 Chevy Colorado pre-runner.
By Friday afternoon, the top ten builds were narrowed down to the top three and announced on the Car Crazy Stage out front of the convention center at 3:30pm, just prior to the big cruise out of the event complex. The top three were Alan Johnson‘s 1953 Studebaker, featuring a fully massaged body, custom fabricated trim, slight wedge-chopped roof, laid back windshield, a custom chassis with the front suspension of a Corvette C6 and trailing arm rear suspension, triple-adjustable Ridetech coilovers, Wilwood disc brakes, 700hp Keith Dorton-built big block and a Currie 9-inch rearend; Chip Foose‘s 1965 Impala, which is a classic body shortened 14 inches and set atop the innards of a 2009 Corvette, featuring handmade bumpers, trim pieces and grille; and Larry and Carol Olson’s 1933 full-fendered steel Ford roadster built by Bobby Alloway, featuring a custom Alloway chassis, one-off Billet Specialties wheels, 241 Red Ram HEMI powerplant, Legend 5-speed transmission and a PPG Black paint scheme topped off with candy flames.
Following the announcement of the top three, all top ten vehicles were escorted to SEMA Ignited, where they were put on display in front of the main stage until 7:30pm, when the winning builder and vehicle were announced based on the votes from the top 10 builders. Truly an acknowledgment from peers; the winner was the Bobby Alloway-built Ford roadster!
In addition to the Battle of the Builders challenge, SEMA Ignited offered excitement for everyone. On the West side of the event, Formula DRIFT drivers like Ryan Tuerck and Vaughn Gittin Jr. signed autographs, took photos with fans, and ultimately took to the designated drift pad for an unforgettable show of talents. Two secondary stages throughout the event offered a live music experience, as well as a professional DJ. And food trucks and vendors offered even more SEMA 2015 action, while a corral of drag cars put on a one-of-a-kind cackle fest; which is always quite the crowd pleaser.
Among the handful of designated vehicle areas, hundreds of SEMA Show rides, from lifted trucks to slammed sport compacts, were put on display. But unlike at the SEMA Show, this time around, the vehicles and their owners were free to show off their vehicles’ sound systems, LED lighting displays and raw horsepower.
The perfect way to end SEMA Week, SEMA Ignited was a blast and certainly worth checking out. As popular as it was this year, just two years in the making, we can only imagine what the greatest SEMA after-party will be like in years to come!