With many teams just getting back to the USofA from Le Mans, it’s a quick turn around for the 2015 episode of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. This is also round 3 of the Tequila Patón North Endurance Cup.
Now, I should be talking about what happened at qualifying on Saturday. My take on how the “Balance of Performance” is working out and what tweaks IMSA has made. How the Daytona Prototype cars are still a bit too fast and how the P2 cars seem to be pushed to the back. How great the racing is in GTLM and in a surprise for me, how I’m starting to enjoy PC racing.
BUT, The Glen being “The GLEN”, rain..rain..and MORE rain. So much so, IMSA canceled qualifying.
So, the starting grid for today’s race will be based on team points with the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype will starting from pole. The No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09 will lead PC filed. In GTLM, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R will lead in their class. Lastly, No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 will lead GTD class.
How to watch the race?
Easiest thing is head over to IMSA’s website for the various ways to watch the 6 hours of the race. Green flag drops at 10am ET this morning.
And of course, the ever handy spotters guide.
[photo | IMSA]
In seven days our group of SEMA Young Executives have traveled over 1,500 miles (some much farther), crossed 7 state lines, and networked with 100′s of young professionals and enthusiasts. We’ve braved hail, flash flood warnings, and even tornados. Most importantly, we have shown our commitment to the SEMA cause and the industry that is our passion.
Forbes magazine did a study a number of years ago on how people felt about what they do for a living. According to their study, there are three options in earning a living. There are those that have jobs, those with careers, and those with callings. 24% of employed people have a job… in other words they don’t look forward to going to work everyday, they hate it. 63% have a career — it’s just a means to an end, nothing special. 13% have a calling, they love their job, they feel like they are benefiting others and themselves, and what they do each day brings them joy. I can honestly say that I fall within the 13%. It took several years to get there but I love what I do and it doesn’t seem like work.
The automotive aftermarket is a diverse workplace. Our team this week met with entrepreneurs, sales people, engineers, marketers, technicians, photographers, and a variety of other professionals. All under the umbrella of the automotive industry. At SEMA, we focus on the specialty side. SEMA member companies specialize in developing, distributing, selling, and installing products that make vehicles look, sound, and perform better. America has had a love affair with the automobile since its invention and the annual Hot Rod Power Tour is proof that that passion is still going strong. An average of 3,500 cars made the long haul trip this year from Madison, WI to Baton Rouge, LA with thousands more that joined us throughout the trip. Each car had a story and the variety of vehicles on the trip was staggering. Resto-mods, street rods, 4×4′s, classic trucks, sport compacts, modern muscle, rat rods, you name it.
Throughout our trip we met individuals that worked in the industry but didn’t know how to break into the aftermarket. We met young enthusiasts that didn’t know where to even start looking to get into the industry, and we met folks that didn’t think it would be a possibility. We know there are skilled people out there and it’s our goal to connect those ambitious people with a network of young professionals who are looking to grow and ensure the success of our industries future. We also know that there are people out there that don’t think they’d be able to get into the automotive aftermarket and don’t have a clue of where to start. That is why we spent time at several different trade schools. The students need to see that we’ve made it and they can too.
A fresh new group of SEMA Young Executives will be selected next year for the tour and they’ll be on a new route to spread the good gospel of how great the automotive industry is and what opportunities are available.
On our final day of the trip we headed West from Gulf Port, Mississippi en route to Baron Rouge, Louisiana. Our group of five vehicles nearly made it the entire trip without so much as a hiccup. After going through a heavy rain storm soon after entering Louisiana, Tim Brueggemann’s starter engaged and hung up on the flywheel. By the time he’d gotten it powered down the teeth teeth on the starter were no more. Thankfully the F100 is a standard and we were able to push start it the rest of the day.
As we all travel our separate ways, back to Idaho, California, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee; we’ll all head back to the office on Monday. The difference is, this Monday we’ll have a hand full of life long friends and connections that we didn’t have before and we all have a renewed fire to help make our industry better.
Stop 6 of the 2015 Hot Rod Power tour took us to Gulf Port, Mississippi. First we made a quick stop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to spend some time and mentor a group of automotive students at the Tuscaloosa Technology and Career Academy. This is a high school that allows students to specialize in specific trades, ranging from automotive to 3D animation. My high school barely had a wood working class.
As SEMA Young Executives in the automotive aftermarket, our group recognized the rare opportunity this group of students has. Their state-of-the-art facility is sponsored and supported by Snap-On tools and includes all of the latest equipment and tools. Many of them have already disassembled, and reassembled small block v8′s and had them running.
I was raised in a family of automotive buffoons (no offense) and there were no programs available until college. Even without being mentored or having the opportunities to receive training, I knew from a young age that the automotive industry was for me. The high level of training that these students have available to them is impressive and it was out task to help them realize that. It is easy to take opportunities for granted when you are young.
After our school visit we promptly headed south for Gulf Port, Mississippi. Arriving a little late to the show due to our school visit, we didn’t have the chance to mingle as long as we did in Birmingham but it didn’t stop us from finding some great young enthusiasts and professionals at the show. Keith McWilliams met a couple of guys that are celebrating their 21st birthdays by taking on the power tour in a Formula Firebird that they built last week… for $2,500. That sounds like a Top Gear shenanigan.
I had the opportunity to visit with Ian Lehn. Ian came on the Hot Rod Power Tour last year as one of our young executives. Ian is the perfect role model of how the SEMA organization can help launch enthusiasts careers in the industry. Each year, SEMA hosts an event call the SEMA Launchpad competition which pits young entrepreneurs against each other for a grant from SEMA to help get their business off the ground. As an engineer, Ian has developed a new and unique fuel additive that boosts octane levels called Boostane. Ian won the Launchpad last year and has seen a major impact in the growth of his business from that opportunity.
As a member of the YEN, I’m constantly on the lookout for who can benefit from our organization and how I can shed light on our great industry. Our 7th and final stop tomorrow will be in Baton Rouge, LA. We hope to see some of you there!
We spent a sweltering day in Birmingham, Alabama for day 5 of the Hot Rod Power Tour. Typically the power tour route avoids the interstate so that the drivers can enjoy the more scenic routes. Today, the YEN group took a more direct route so that we could make it in time for a school visit. Still, we ran into groups of long haulers on the interstate and it was like watching a traffic cam clip from 1970.
Our school stop today was Lawson State Community college where we shared our professional experiences and backgrounds with the students. We emphasized the value of the technical skills that they would be learning and how they can be used as a foundation in whatever path they take in the industry… even in sales or marketing.
From Lawson, we traveled the rest of the way to Birmingham and Hoover stadium for the show. Each of us found young enthusiasts or professionals to interview. For enthusiasts, we focused on what they wanted to do in the industry and provided feedback on how that can happen. For professionals, what can we do to create more awareness and how can they get more involved themselves?
Personally, I decided to interview a 9-year-old boy by the name of Aaron. Aaron and his dad are from Birmingham and were enjoying the show together. Keith McWilliams and I noticed how excited Aaron was getting around certain cars and suddenly I was 9 years old again. For me it all started with Hot Wheels and Motor Trend and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work with or around cars. I wanted to be an automotive journalist. That’s why we spoke to Aaron, I was curious to know if he wanted to work in the industry. Turns out, he likes to take things apart and build things. “I want to be a scientist, or have a job where I can build things” he said. Thankfully, Keith being a product engineer for Comp Cams was able to shed some light on that aspect of the industry and Aaron ate it up.
I wish I would have ad the mentors in the industry when I was a young age. I may be in the industry now but I know it could have happened a lot sooner had I had that available or known where to look.
A few of our team members also interviewed some young professionals in our industry that are under the age of 40. Tim Brueggemann of B-Line Auto talked to Mike, who’s 38-years-old. Mike has been a car guy his whole life and has worked in the industry for 16 years. He works for Edelbrock.
Keith McWilliams interviewed Blain, the PR and marketing manager for Holley performance. Blain is 28-years-old and got into the industry after a 3-month internship. Keith loves the aftermarket and says’s that “The people of the performance aftermarket are what drive the passion behind American innovation. It’s not only an escape but also a lifestyle. The SEMA family of companies is very much a family and meeting other like minded individuals is the most effective way to promote our industry.”
Tomorrow we hit the road for Gulf Port, Mississippi in search of some much needed breeze and more future professionals! Remember to follow us on the Hot Rod Power Tour at #YenPowerTour.
Day 4 of the Hot Rod Power Tour began in St. Louis, Missouri at Ranken Technical College for some networking and mentoring with students in the Automotive program. Having gone through a technical program and having been in many technical schools, I can honestly say that Ranken is one of the most impressive programs and facilities I’ve seen.
Ranken’s program is supported by Toyota, Honda, Ford, and General Motors with many of the students having job placements ready and waiting at graduation. Programs range from general repair, overhaul, collision repair, and our favorite… performance. After an excellent tour of the facilities, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the students and shed some light on the opportunities that are out there. In our group we have two custom shop owners, a manufacturer’s rep, a product engineer, and several marketing and sales professionals. Having worked as a manufacturers rep, I know first hand the great demand for skilled and reliable technicians and having that technical knowledge is a solid foundation and increasingly important and beneficial in almost any job in our industry.
To many young enthusiasts and professionals, SEMA is nothing more than the annual show in November in Las Vegas. The fact that SEMA is responsible for the growth, protection, and promotion of the automotive aftermarket is often unknown. Networking with SEMA members and seeking careers with SEMA member companies is also often a question mark. As members of the SEMA Young Executives network, we’re happy to help remedy this issue.
After our visit at Ranken, we headed south to Memphis for stop number four of the tour, after a quick stop at Waffle House of course! Stop four brought with it an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the worlds largest burnout, which was accomplished with 118 cars. After the show we retired to Beale street, birthplace of the blues where select long haulers displayed their cars. We enjoyed good food, good company, and of course, great cars.
Tomorrow the tour route will take us to Birmingham, Alabama where we’ll work with a Local High School and continue our quest to work with future young professionals.
Wind, hail, and even a tornado slowed us up on day 2 but the sun rose in Champaign, Illinois this morning to mostly clear sky’s and dried out our rides in no time. We quickly hit the road for Madison, Illinois (just across the river from St. Louis) for stop number 3 at Gateway Motor Speedway. Instead of autocross this time we got to enjoy some 1/4 mile drags where Hot Rod Power Tour participants got to test their reaction times and horsepower against fellow enthusiasts. A pair of Chevrolet S10 pickups were the fastest that Keith McWilliams and I saw for the day, tipping the lights at 10.4 and 10.5 seconds.
In search of young enthusiasts and young professionals/future professionals, Keith and I came across Andy from Atlanta Georgia. Andy and his friend are making the long haul from Madison, WI to Baton Rouge, LA as well in a Fox Body 302 Mustang. Andy lit up when we told him that we were looking for enthusiasts that wanted to know more about SEMA and getting into the industry. “I’m definitely interested” he said. Andy currently works for a restoration shop that specializes in restoring Mercedes-Benz’s, specifically the legendary 300SL Gullwing, one of my favorites. While Andy’s in the industry, networking with other professionals and SEMA members can help him advance in his career quicker than he would otherwise.
Keith and I were also able to meet the guys at Fusion Motorsports. Better known as the dudes that build the Shelby GT500 Eleanor replicas. They’d been scheduled to show their Shelby that’s making the trip at a drive-in showing of “Gone In 60 Seconds” last night in Champaign but got washed out. At least we got to learn more about the car in detail at the show in St. Louis.
Tyler Wesley, of Speedway Motors had a chance to visit with Austin Dicus. Austin is 19 years old and will soon be taking over the family business, Dicus Designs. The Dicus family runs a custom auto shop and are sponsored by Ford. They’ve built several one-off builds for Ford that have been featured at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas, NV. Austin is only 19 years old and already involved as a SEMA Young Executive. Bryan Harrison, our SEMA Director of Networks, connected Austin with another YEN member that is with us on the trip, Tim Brueggemann. Tim runs a successful custom shop in Nebraska and had some good Tips for Austin who is already well on his way in having a positive impact in our industry as a professional and an enthusiast.
The automotive industry is for passionate people and that’s what makes it such a great space to work in. Our purpose as SEMA Young Executives is to lend a helping hand to those looking to enter the industry. Looking from the outside in as an enthusiast it can seem impossible, like a dream, only for those with connections and the right amount of luck. I’ve been there, I know how it feels. Our goal is to help provide those connections, remove the barriers and misconceptions and help ensure the bright future of the automotive aftermarket. SEMA’s current crop of young professionals will need to the pass the torch and we’re looking for the enthusiasts that can take us to the next level.