SEMA 2015: Battle of the Builders and SEMA Ignited

If you’ve ever been to SEMA, or even just heard stories from the event, then 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 last year and launched their own mega after-party to close out the annual show. They call it SEMA Ignited and it’s essentially a car/truck lovers paradise.

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 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.

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Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher

For this year’s Battle of the Builders challenge, nearly 75 builders entered their rides to be judged against other amazing builds, with just one builder ultimately being named the best of SEMA 2015. Of these 75 vehicle entries, the top 10 were selected and revealed during SEMA week.

Battle of the Builders

Among the vehicles that were chosen for the top 10 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.

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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 and was the only lifted vehicle to make the Top 10, features a custom Roadster Shop chassis with 27 inches of suspension travel, carbon fiber fenders and bedsides, and an 800hp LS engine.

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, Chip Foose’s 1965 Impala, 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 and more. 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 votes from the top 10 builders. The winner was the Bobby Alloway-built Ford roadster!

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SEMA Ignited

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 offered a one-of-a-kind cackle fest.

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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. For the occasion, impressive lifted builds like the truck and ATV combo from the McGaughy’s booth, the Toy’s Trucks Dodge, RBP dually, “Orange Tundra“, VPR 4×4 Jeep, and the Fab Fours Jeeps were in attendance.

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!


Check Out the Full Lift’d Trucks Gallery HERE:


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