50 Years Later: The Pioneers

SEMA News—November 2016


By John Stewart

50 Years Later: The Pioneers

  50th SEMA Show Logo

A major factor in the vitality and growth of the association was the advent of the annual SEMA Show. In 1965 and 1966, Noel Carpenter, publisher of Speed Equipment Directory, produced an industry-wide exposition that was initially promoted as a chance for the speed-equipment manufacturers to showcase new products. While the shows were not sponsored by SEMA, the association did receive a share of the profits from the 1966 gathering.

Meanwhile, rival publisher Robert E. Petersen of Petersen Publishing Company had started his own equipment expo, promoting the event in his Hot Rod Industry News, as well as in Hot Rod and Car Craft. Petersen ultimately won SEMA’s backing and produced what historically has been considered the first SEMA Show in 1967 under the banner of Hot Rod Industry News (edited by Alex Xydias), with Dick Wells producing the Show as an employee of Petersen’s Special Events Division. That first SEMA Show was held under the cold and damp grandstands of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles while the organizers awaited the completion of the Anaheim Convention Center, where the exposition was moved in 1968. The exhibitors who participated in the 1967 event, known as the “High Performance & Custom Trade Show,” are listed here, as documented in the pages of Hot Rod Industry News. Fifty years later, some are still with us, some are gone, but these pioneers were among the early companies that built the industry we know today.

Airheart Products Inc. Cyclone Automotive Prod.  Ignitioneering P.S.I. Industries Inc. 
Air Lift Co. Dempsey Wilson Racing Cams  Inglewood Tire Serv. Raybestos Products 
Ansen Automotive Eng. Inc. Diest Drag Chutes  Iskenderian Racing Cams R.C. Industries Inc. 
Appliance Plating Co. Douglass Muffler Mfg. Co.  Jahns Quality Pistons Inc.  Rocket Wheel Industries Inc. 
Arcadia Automatic Trans. Serv.  Doug’s Headers  Jardine Headers  Roto Faze Ignitions 
Astro Enterprises  Drag Fast Sales Inc.  J.E. Engineering Corp.  Segal Automotive Products
B&M Automotive Inc.  Edelbrock Equipment Co.  Joe Hunt Magnetos  Schiefer Mfg. Co.
Belanger Headers Co. Eelco Mfg. & Supply Co. Lakewood Chassis Inc. Shelby American Inc.
Bell-Toptex Inc.  EMPI  Mallory Electric Corp.  Simpson Drag Chute Co. 
Bid Products Inc.  Federal Mogul Service  Manufacturers Associates Inc.  Speed & Custom Dealer 
Borg Warner Serv. Parts Co.  Fenton Co.  Merryman Piston Co.  Spirit Safety Equip. 
Buco Products  Fiberglass Trends  Mickey Thompson Ent. Inc.  STP Corp. 
Cal Automotive  Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.  Milodon Engineering Co.  Summers Bros. Eng. 
Calif. Custom Acc. Mfg. Co.  Granite Equipment Co.  Mondello’s Porting Serv.  Tony Nancy Auto & Boat Upholstery 
Casler Racing Tires Inc.  Grant Industries Inc.  Moon Equipment Co.  Traction-Master 
Cedar Rapids Eng. Co.  Hayes Clutches  Mr. Gasket Co.  Trans-American Products Ltd. 
Cholakian (ED) Enterprises  Hedman Hedders  Muntz Stereo Pak  Trans-Dapt of Calif. Inc. 
Chute Metal Co.  Hellwig Products Co. Inc.  NHRA United Western Enterprises 
Cragar Industries  Hooker Headers  Nickey-Bill Thomas Race Cars  Valley Head Service 
Crane Engineering Co. Inc.  Horsepower Engineering  Offenhauser Sales Corp.  Valvoline Oil Co. 
Crestline Mfg. Co. Inc.  Hot Rod Magazine  Perfection American  Venolia Pistons 
Crower Cams & Equip. Co.  Hurst Performance Prod. Inc.  Petersen Publishing Co.  Weber Tool Co. 
C-T Alloy Products  Huth Mfg. Corp.  Pollution Control Board  Weiand Power & Racing Equipment 
Cure Ride Corp.  Hydra Link  Popular Hot Rodding  Wheel Centre Co.
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