The Right Stuff
The August 6, 2020 announcement from SEMA stating that the SEMA Show will not be taking place in 2020 gave us the opportunity to check in with Ira Gabriel is the SEMA Vice President of Marketing, PR and Communications for the latest on the SEMA Battle of the Builders and Young Guns competition.
SEMA: With the recent announcement from SEMA that the SEMA Show will not take place in November as originally planned, what does this mean for the SEMA Battle of the Builders and Young Guns competition?
IG: Both the SEMA Battle of the Builders and the Young Guns program will continue to take place. SEMA went virtual with our Young Guns program in March 2020. The Young Guns virtual regional corrals have identified winning builds from each virtual regional corral held to date and will conclude in September with an online fan vote consisting of the current runners-up from the season. The Young Guns program continues to serve as a feeder to the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition and offers young builders the opportunity to compete to earn a spot in the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition. The SEMA Battle of the Builders competition is still proceeding, and applications are still being accepted. Our television production team works with staff to review the applications and produce YouTube webisodes.
SEMA: With no show, how will the SEMA Battle of the Builders work?
IG: The idea behind the program is to recognize top builders, their builds, their innovation, creativity and the products. All of that is still very much alive in a virtual competition. In many respects, it's about sharing their story which is what the SEMA Battle of the Builders has done for six seasons. We will be shifting to a virtual element for the Battle of the Builders which may have a few live components integrated to evaluate the top cars and recognize the winners.
SEMA: How does the SEMA Battle of the Builders and Young Guns program connect with the mission of the SEMA?
IG: SEMA is a trade association that helps its members succeed. Getting more youth involved in the industry is a major strategic focus for the company. The goal of the SEMA Show is to bring together industry professionals, enthusiasts, and manufacturers and highlight the aftermarket parts, technology and vehicles from our industry. The Young Guns program, in particular, is a program that was built to recognize and inspire the next wave of young builders and get them actively involved with the aftermarket industry.
SEMA: How does a builder become one of the Young Guns?
IG: If you are 27 years or younger at the time of the annual SEMA Show and work on your vehicle in any capacity, you are eligible to register for the Young Guns program. To participate, a young builder would register for one of the regional virtual Young Guns corrals(A full list can be found at www.semayoungguns.com) . If selected to present their vehicle at the Young Guns regional virtual corral, the young builder would be given the opportunity to present their vehicle in front of industry judges and be evaluated on the quality of their build, work done to their build, total involvement as the builder, ingenuity and aftermarket parts used on the build. This entire process takes place through a video conferencing platform where the builder and judges are present.
The winner of each event will compete in the prestigious SEMA Battle of the Builders competition.
SEMA: How would you best describe the program and opportunity for a young builder?
IG: The SEMA Battle of the Builders competition was created to create excitement about the builders, aftermarket industry parts and vehicles. Coverage of the SEMA Battle of the Builders is shared throughout social media, on a nationally televised one-hour program and through media coverage. For a young builder, the hardest step to enter the industry is the first step.
SEMA: What advice do you have for a young builder to get started?
IG: My recommendation is to visit the Young Guns website (www.semayoungguns.com) to enter a vehicle.
SEMA: What does it mean to a builder when they qualify at one of the virtual regional corrals?
IG: Qualifying at a virtual regional corral for a young builder means you have been recognized by your peers and industry members who have acknowledged the hard work, hours, craftsmanship, ideas and mechanical workings that you've put into your build. Simply put, being identified as the Young Guns winner at a virtual corral means that your work speaks for itself. It is one of the highest compliments and honors that can be bestowed upon a builder. You are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the top builders in the industry—and in the world! These top builders have become media sensations, TV personalities and have launched big businesses—all because they started out as a young builder who was doing something with a vehicle that they really, really enjoy. Many of these builders who start at SEMA end up making a career out of it.
SEMA: Any last-minute advice for young builders out there?
IG: Keep pursuing your passion and dreams. Your first project is going to be one that you will remember forever, but it won't be the last. Work with people around you and get advice from mentors and those in the industry. Pursue the industry as a career, hobby, profession or just a pastime. The more you put into it, the more the industry will give back to you. Take the first step today by visiting www.semayoungguns.com and registering to attend a regional event.