Don’t Miss: SEMA Battle of the Builders

SEMA News—February 2016


By Della Domingo

Don’t Miss: SEMA Battle of the Builders

Tune in February 1!
  Battle of the Builders
The Battle of the Builders TV special premieres Monday, February 1, at 10:00 p.m. (EST/PST), with re-airings scheduled in the following weeks.

The SEMA Battle of the Builders competition is described as the ultimate challenge for vehicle builders. With customizers showcasing their newest creations at the SEMA Show, the 2015 competition featured more than 200 submissions, with builders vying for the title of Top Builder.

During the week of the SEMA Show, industry experts studied, scrutinized and evaluated the entries to narrow the field down to the Top 10. From there, the 10 finalists examined the competition in front of an audience at the SEMA Show, and the winner was announced during the official SEMA Show after-party, otherwise known as SEMA Ignited.

Battle of the Builders
The top finalists, shown here after the field was narrowed to 10, represent some of the most respected and creative builders on the planet.

For those who were unable to attend the SEMA Show or SEMA Ignited (and even for those who were there), the Velocity Network is bringing viewers an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the competition. Fans will see and hear what the judges had to say about the entries, visit with some of the builders at their shops and watch the excitement grow as the winner and runners-up are announced.

The TV special premieres Monday, February 1, at 10:00 p.m. (EST/PST), with re-airings scheduled in the following weeks. Visit or check your local cable/satellite provider for dates and times.

In the meantime, here are random facts about the builders and the competition:

  • The Top 10 represented Chicago, IL; Garden Grove, CA; Omaha, NE; Madison, WI; Mooresville, NC; Signal Hill, CA; Huntington Beach, CA; Louisville, TN; and Birmingham, AL.
  • Among the Top 10 finalists were two tuner vehicles: Ryan Basseri’s Honda Integra Type R and Eric Kozeluh’s ’95 Toyota Supra. Both builders are from Southern California.
  • One of the judges, David Freiburger, has never held a job that did not revolve around cars. He landed at Petersen Publishing in 1991 and currently hosts the popular YouTube Show, “Roadkill.”
  • The Chevy Colorado built by Phil and Jeremy Gerber was inspired by events such as the Baja 1000. The truck includes an 800hp Chevrolet LS7 V8 engine and a modified 4L80E transmission.
  • Top 10 finalist Andy Leach began modifying vehicles at the age of 13, when his father bought him a copy of Street Rodder. Shortly afterward, at the age of 14, Leach purchased his first car—a ’37 Ford.
  • Alan Johnson, who entered the competition with a ’53 Studebaker sponsored by ARP Inc., began modifying vehicles at the age of 13, when he got his first vehicle (a VW Bug).
  • Mike and Jim Ring, who own and operate Ringbrothers, made it to the Top 10 with a Mustang Fastback sponsored by BASF. With 2015 being their second year in the Top 10 of the SEMA Battle of the Builders, the brothers said they were “flabbergasted” to be among the finalists.
  • Bobby Alloway was also among the Top 10 builders in both 2014 and 2015. When he couldn’t afford a new vehicle in high school in the ’70s, Alloway purchased an old “cheap” one and fixed it up, thereby launching his career in the car industry.
  • RJ de Vera is a 20-year veteran in the automotive aftermarket industry and served as one of the judges in the 2015 SEMA Battle of the Builders competition. Some may remember RJ as the co-host of the MTV reality series “Trick It Out,” but it’s his extensive experience with brands such as Pepsi, Valvoline, Denso, Michelin/BFGoodrich, American Honda and Acura for which many others will know him.
  • Few fans were surprised that Chip Foose, one of the industry’s most well-known builders, was among the top finalists in the competition. What many may not have known is that Foose started his business, Foose Designs, in 1998 when, after looking for a job, no one would hire him.
  • Kyle Tucker, the 2014 winner of the SEMA Battle of the Builders, was among the Top 10 finalists in 2015. Having grown up on a farm in the Midwest, Tucker started racing go-carts at a young age.
  • Fred Williams served as a judge in the competition, representing the off-road and truck segment of the industry. In addition to his role as brand manager and technical editor for Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off-Road magazine, Williams is an avid off-roader who loves playing in the dirt, rocks, sand and mud.

To learn even more about the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition, the builders and the judges, visit and tune in to the TV special Monday, February 1, on the Velocity Network.

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