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Key Retrofit Ambassador, Rob Ward, Candidate for SEMA Board of Directors

Rob Ward, classic car enthusiast, advocate for electric vehicle technology, and CEO of Legacy EV, has just announced his candidacy for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) board of directors. Ward’s campaign highlights his commitment to investing in new vehicle technology to grow the total addressable market.

Through his campaign, Rob hopes to promote a greater acceptance of new technology, like EV powertrains, in the aftermarket so that all SEMA members can benefit from this growing market trend. 

“Not only are aftermarket technologies evolving, but so is how we do business,” said Ward. “As a SEMA board member, I would focus my efforts on ensuring SEMA members have access to high-quality data and training around emerging technologies as well as professional development on new business strategies.”

The SEMA board is responsible for promoting the automotive aftermarket industry and representing the interests of SEMA members, which include manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and enthusiasts. Ward’s campaign focuses on bringing a fresh perspective to the board and promoting innovative solutions that can help the industry adapt to the changing automotive landscape.

Overall, Ward’s candidacy for the SEMA board highlights the growing interest in electric vehicle technology and how that growth can be leveraged to benefit all SEMA Members. With his extensive experience and passion for the industry, Ward is a promising candidate who could help lead SEMA into a more sustainable and innovative future.

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About Rob Ward:

Rob has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, starting companies, investing in real estate and constantly challenging himself to do big meaningful things. He started an electrical company in Washington, Oregon, and Arizona, working closely with oil companies, power plants, food processing facilities, and semiconductor manufacturers on industrial electrical automation and system integrations. As his electrical company expanded, he considered business ventures that could get him back into the automotive industry. In 2018, seeing the potential for electrification, he knew this was where he could bring value.

“I love building things, seeing an idea turn into a business, and a business turn into a solution that the industry really needs, and watching a team set goals and reach their goals. This gets me excited!”

As CEO and Co-founder of Legacy EV, the face of aftermarket EVs, Rob combined his passion for aftermarket restorations with his electrical engineering and entrepreneurial spirit to build Legacy EV into an innovative industry leader. He has built dozens of classic cars, most notably, a 1930 Model-A Sedan that went from a hot rod resto-mod to an impressive 400-volt EV repower. His builds have won awards and accolades that include six magazine features, four magazine covers, a Top Truck Award, and a place in a Premiere Classic Car Auction Top 50. His 23+ years of experience in electrical systems integration allowed him to use that depth of knowledge to create some of the most cutting-edge EVs in the industry. His company has created the nation’s first Certified EV Technician Program and developed an international network of EV-authorized installers. With this entrepreneurial fortitude, he has forged distribution agreements with major manufacturers across the EV industry, negotiated EV conversion contracts with government agencies, and played an integral role with battery manufacturers, pushing EVs and battery capabilities to world records.

SEMA and Art Chrisman


I know I’m a little behind the curve on this one, regarding my pal and friend Art Chrisman who passed July 12th, 2016, at the young age of 86 years. He, as you know, was one of the founding fathers of NHRA Drag Racing, as well as the patriarch to one of its legendary families—hard core all the way through!

My father and I saw his famed #25 car exceed 140 and 180 mph to be the first winner at the Bakersfield U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships in 1959. Then came the Hustler and the man became legend, one of the true breed of men that command respect without a word spoken. Like all the John Wayne characters rolled into one guy!

 Art Chrisman laughing
Here’s a great photo by yours truly of Art Chrisman at his best, “LAUGHING” with Tom Prufer in my office in 2012.
New SO-CAL Speed Shop Las Vegas, 1020 Brush St. Las Vegas, NV  702.651.1932. (Lenny Sr. or Jr.)

I met Art in the ‘80s when he started using Pete & Jake’s parts on projects at his hot rod shop. Imagine my elation, Art Chrisman buying parts from Jake and me. Rest in peace, my friend.

SEMA 2016 was a blast. It was really busy, especially with Brad Fanshaw and the guys from our Shift and Steer podcast, Matt D’Andria and Aaron Hagar. Go ahead, pick an adjective: unbelievable, incredible, amazing, astonishing, great, enormous, mindboggling, extraordinary—they all just barely describe the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) Show.

Seriously, I’ve been attending since 1973, back in the days of the Anaheim Convention Center, and I’ve never experienced anything the likes of this year’s gathering! How do I know it was huge? Because I was at ground zero in the The Shift and Steer studio based in the “Oh too Cool” Derale booth, hosted by good friend and Derale jefe, Tom Longo. (Thanks, Tom, it was sweet!)

Shift and Steer boys hard at it interviewing TV Star, Chasing Classic Cars,’ Wayne Carini; great guy, fun and a very savvy car guy!! (L to R, Matt D’Andria, Me, Host Brad Fanshaw, Wayne Carini and Aaron Hagar.)
(L to R Me, Bobby Alloway, Alan Johnson, Gene Winfield, Troy Trepanier and Roy Brizio
Now this was a blast…the 2016 HRIA Hot Rod Builders Panel, one hour of one-upmanship!! (L to R Me, Bobby Alloway, Alan Johnson, Gene Winfield, Troy Trepanier and Roy Brizio.

While attending SEMA I had to stop by the new SO-CAL Speed Shop, the Las Vegas store—or get shot by owners, the Ribaudo family. The store is really nice and just across the strip from the convention center. Lenny Sr. and Jr., report a lot of traffic (and not only during SEMA week). The store has become a tourist destination, especially for our Asian friends. The store is a well stocked “speed shop” in every sense of the word and carries everything from engine parts to sheet metal for Mustangs, pickups and Chevys. The best of luck with that new property!

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the February 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.



For the seasoned professionals, getting vehicles built, painted and polished for SEMA is such a regular to-do that many shops are bringing multiple trucks to Las Vegas.

It’s tough enough to manage just one project let alone more, but the hustle is real, and the results are nothing short of immaculate and impressive. But you’ll soon see for yourself the finished products from some of the finest automotive artists out there. From classic trucks to lifted and lowered late-model haulers, they’ll all be there fully customized and ready to drive, which is proof that no type of build is out of reach these days.

With the support of today’s aftermarket and the brilliant minds behind these projects, there really is no limit to what can be created.

Stay tuned and as we bring you more of the vehicles from the big show:

Kevin Stickel’s 1971 Chevrolet C-10

Built by Delmo’s, Kevin’s C-10, featured in the Royal Purple booth, showcases an implanted LS7 motor, full AccuAir system, Delmo CST wheels, PorterBuilt Dropmember kits and Dakota Digital gauges to help monitor the truck’s vital signs.

Auto Marine Custom Upholstery out of Alberta, Canada, took on the interior overhaul, and accessories from Marquez Design were showcased throughout the C-10’s interior and exterior. The sinister black paint work was also handled north of the border by Lange’s Shop. At a show that had so many trucks this is still one to watch.

1971 Chevrolet C-10

Jeff Ekberg’s 1959 Chevrolet C-10 

This short-bedded, big-windowed beauty is another truck of Delmo’s. At the AccuAir’s booth, it has an LS3 complete with custom Tri-Power intake manifold, which Mullenix Racing Engines helped pull together. Delmo Special 22-inch wheels have taken up residence underneath the fenders, and PorterBuilt Dropmember kits helped close the gap around them. Of course, a full AccuAir system has been pieced together for this C-10’s ride height adjustability. Other sponsors for this beauty include Holley, Dakota Digital, Eddie Motorsports, Magnaflow, Kicker, Be Cool and Autotrend EFI. Arizona locals iKandy Paintworks and Prescott Hot Rods have also jumped onboard to bless the Chevy with paint and interior work, respectively.

Jeff Ekberg’s 1959 Chevrolet C-10 

Jamie Torrez’s 2014 Toyota Tundra  

Demented Customs is Jamie’s shop, and because it’s located in Hobbs, New Mexico, there’s plenty of off-road country to test the truck. He’s no stranger to building lowered cars and trucks, but for this particular build, he chose to take the high road to SEMA. The Demented Tundra, in Leer’s booth, has tons of off-road accessories from Addicted Desert Designs, suspension components from Ready Lift Off-Road and goods from Rigid Industries lighting, and of course, a Leer shell with bike rack. Oh, and for kicks, this baby is TRD supercharged, too.

Jamie Torrez’s 2014 Toyota Tundra

John Gonzalez’s 1974 Chevrolet C-10

It’s rare to find these trucks in the possession of the original owner and with only 66k original miles on the odometer. The paint is also the same stuff that was sprayed by the factory 42 years ago. Yeah, a double take may be in order after reading that, but it’s no joke—it’s all true.

John Gonzalez’s ’74 C-10, which he has affectionately dubbed “Buttercup,” in the United Pacific Industries booth where the company will be showcasing its quality LED lighting parts and accessories for all types of classic cars and trucks, features suspension components from PorterBuilt and Crown Suspension, as well as a CPP Hydroboost big brake system and a 22- and 24-inch US Mags wheel combo.

A Gen IV 6.0L and a 6L90E transmission combo keeps the truck in motion. A full TMI interior has helped resurrect the fading original upholstery, and a Vintage Air AC system and gauges from Dakota Digital have given the cab a comfier, more modern touch.

Gonzalez has built the truck, his first SEMA project, at his place, Johny’s Garage in Bell Gardens, California, and he’d like to offer “thanks to John Padilla at United Pacific for this amazing opportunity and Eric Rodriguez at Wolf Design for the rendering artwork.”

John Gonzalez’s 1974 Chevrolet C-10

KC Mathieu’s 1949 Ford F-1  

After months of prepping a vehicle for SEMA and spending thousands of dollars on parts, the last thing most builders want to do is immediately subject their latest creation to harsh conditions on the open road. Notice how we said “most” builders. Enter KC Mathieu, owner of KC’s Paint Shop. His plan is to drive his SEMA projects from their home base of Fort Worth, Texas, to Las Vegas and back.

KC Mathieu’s 1949 Ford F-1   KC Mathieu’s 1949 Ford F-1  

This particular ’49 F-1 features a No Limit Engineering Big 10 chassis and a Ford Racing 5.0L Coyote engine with a Roush supercharger. If that isn’t enough to win you over, a set of Budnik wheels (along with a matching steering wheel) and Falken Tires have been brought in, as well as a full Wilwood big brake kit.

LMC Truck restoration products have been used throughout the build inside and out. A RestoMod air system keeps the cab cool for the long drive from Vegas.

Other sponsors include Be Cool, Currie, ididit, HeatShield, Ron Francis Wiring, Hughes Transmissions, Dakota Digital, RideTech, Aeromotive Fuel Systems, Kwik Performance, Inc., Superchargers Online, Hides Leather and VP Racing Fuels.

Mike Alexander’s 2014 GMC SLT  

To develop a new air suspension product line, Mike Alexander teamed up with Eric Conner from SoCal Suspension to debut FLO Airride Mfg.’s new product lineup at this year’s SEMA Show. Partnering with Injen Technology to install and show off its NNBS intake and tune, this is an exciting build to behold.

Mike Alexander’s 2014 GMC SLT  

In less than three months, they took a stock cruiser and outfitted it with all-new FLO Airride products and Michigan Metal Works suspension components all managed by the advanced Air Lift Performance 3H. Tucking massive 26-inch Billet Specialties BLVD wheels with Baer Brakes Extreme 6s+ setup, this is one “new new” body (NNBS) we couldn’t wait to see come to life. Daley Visuals, PlainNSimple, McGaughy’s, Sadistic Iron Werks, Roadwire and Image Street Rods along with a few close friends joined in on the thrash to bring this to life ready for its center-stage debut.

Jonathan Lee’s 1959 Chevy Apache

Representing the latest in the evolution of air suspension technology, Jonathan Lee’s 1959 Chevy Apache, featured in the McGaughy’s Suspension SEMA lineup, shows off the all-new FLO Airride Mfg. product line. This beautifully grounded Apache makes use of the full McGaughy’s Camaro clip front end and big-brake swap along with AccuAir management laid out on custom Delmo Specials.

Built by Eric Conner and the SoCal Suspension crew, this classic features goodies from Eddie’s Motorsports, Dakota Digital, Kicker Audio, Vintage Air, Powermaster Performance and more.

Jonathan Lee’s 1959 Chevy Apache

Kody and James Barber’s 1984 GMC High Sierra  

This square-body was inherited from James’ father, Kody’s grandfather. The two figured that restoring and improving on this family heirloom would be the perfect way to honor the truck’s original owner. Chris Stafford of Stafford’s Garage was recruited to manage/design/build the truck as well as lock down placement for the finished truck at SEMA (at the Precision Replacement Parts booth).

The truck now sits on a full custom frame built by Cody Stoute of Popeye’s Rod Shop using custom-spec Morrison frame rails, LongShot Fabrication Builder Series front cross member and QA1 adjustable shocks.

Up/down adjustment will be controlled with Air Lift’s 3H air management system. A 22- and 24-inch Raceline Hooligan wheel combo along with Toyo Proxes STII rubber will propel the GMC stylishly down the highway.

Kody and James Barber’s 1984 GMC High Sierra   Kody and James Barber’s 1984 GMC High Sierra   Kody and James Barber’s 1984 GMC High Sierra  

And speaking of highway propulsion, an LS427 from Blueprint Engines will be throwing down 620 hp and an estimated 600 ft-lbs of torque, which will make this baby a real mover. As far as the exterior goes, it will remain pretty close to what GM had originally intended. Chris ran with a two-tone paint scheme that he had dreamed up with early-model Corvettes in mind. LMC Truck has provided the emblems, and Precision Replacement Parts has stepped in with all of the weather-stripping and seals that the truck needed. All body and paintwork will be taken care of by Chris, along with Jeremy Pounds at Mo’s Paint & Body shop. Stoute has also begun work on the bed floor, exhaust and engine bay sheet-metal work. This is going to be a really hip square once it’s finalized.

Nick Germano’s 1968 Chevy C-10  

Securing a prestigious spot at the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) reception and booth in Central Hall, Nick’s ’68 will certainly make an impact on all who lay eyes on it. Outkast Kustoms, in Newark, California, is responsible for the build, and it has definitely mapped out one incredible project.

If you can’t quite pick up on what’s different about this truck, the ’69 Camaro bodylines might be the reason why. The custom one-off hood, grille and bumper, as well as the chopped roof and slanted back windshield also factor into this Chevy’s unique appearance. The bed and interior feature custom sheet-metal treatments, and the handmade taillights boost style points straight through the roof. The body mods made on this truck are outstanding.

Nick Germano’s 1968 Chevy C-10   Nick Germano’s 1968 Chevy C-10   Nick Germano’s 1968 Chevy C-10  

Joining in on the build is an A+ cast of sponsors, including VIAIR, Fast Fuel Injection, Currie, Odyssey Batteries, Vintage Air, Wilwood, Be Cool, Master Shift, Intro Wheels, AccuAir, Slam Specialties, Dakota Digital, Choppin’ Block, Scott’s Hot Rods, AVS, Grant Kustoms, King Kustom Kovers and a whole lot more. This truck is certainly a product of its environment in California’s Bay Area. Local automotive artisans have worked on it extensively, and it features plenty of impressive parts and accessories sourced from Nick’s immediate surroundings.

Mike Baldwin’s 1967 Chevy C-10   

Originally a long-bed model, this ’67, All American Billet booth, has undergone quite a transformation at the hands of Jeremy Rice and the Tre5 Customs crew in Peoria, Arizona. In the powertrain/drivetrain department, the rebuilt 5.3L LS based V-8 features a COMP Cams camshaft, an All American Billet non-AC serpentine pulley setup, a 3-inch stainless exhaust from Black Widow and a ton of parts from Summit Racing. The wiring harness has been built by Modern Vintage Systems specifically for this truck.

The chassis was modified to lay frame on the ground with the assistance of Choppin’ Block front and rear suspension kits and ’bags and a four-way manifold from Slam Specialties. Twenty-two-inch Intro wheels have been powder-coated a transparent copper color to match the roof, which offsets the lighter color of the truck perfectly.

Mike Baldwin’s 1967 Chevy C-10   

Brother’s Truck parts were brought in to replace the originals. A unique sapele wood bed kit from Bed Wood and Parts was brought in to class up the project, and iKandy Paintworks was selected to even out the truck’s surface before the final finish was applied. The cab features a new split bench seat, door panels and dash pad from TMI Products, as well as custom kick panels and a Powerbass sound system designed and fabricated by Elevated Design.

This is a killer build that features many intricate details and parts that just have to be admired up close.

Brandon Edwards’ 2013 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie  

Undertaking a total of eight builds for SEMA, Brandon Edwards of Cash Bred Off-Road of Converse, Texas, made this Ram at Bully Dog’s booth his main event for the show.

What you’ll see upon first glance is one bulldozer of a pickup truck. It has been treated to Cash Bred’s own in-house fabricated 20-inch lift kit. That’s a major spike in altitude and is definitely not a feat for amateurs to attempt, but for guys like Brandon and his crew, it’s all in a day’s work. Fox 2.5 shocks and coil-overs help smooth the ride, and to eat up the road or dirt, 40/15.50r26 Fuel off-road tires and 26×16 Specialty Forged wheels help make light work of rough terrain.

Brandon Edwards’ 2013 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie  

Helping the Cash Bred team along the way are TC Kustomz, which has stepped in with the paint and powder-coat duties, and MCVP contributed the quality vinyl wrap. Gold Standard Lighting has come aboard with its killer projector headlights, Rigid Industries lighting helps illuminate dark paths, and Fusion Bumpers keeps the truck looking rugged and safe from any potential love taps at both ends. Of course, a build this big features a whole lot more that can’t be squeezed into this brief introduction, but if sky-high trucks are your thing, you’ll need to see this beast for yourself.

Index Ink Design/ Street Trucks 1970 Chevy C-10  

Everyone else was getting in on it. Why not Street Trucks? Throughout the past few months ST teased what they might be doing. The guys there partnered with Index Ink Design on their next big project. They found a donor ’70 C-10  which will get the pro-touring treatment for a little autocross action. Starting from the ground up, the chassis will be revamped with coil-overs, rack-and-pinion steering and a big brake kit. From there we will plant a modern fuel-injected Chevy LS engine combined with a five-speed manual transmission. Styling will be simple and classy. Look for issues of the magazine on newsstands.

Street Trucks 1970 Chevy C-10  

Chris Stafford’s 2015 Chevrolet 2500HD  

This 2500 HD High Country has been dubbed project “Bad Country,” and one look at it explains it all. The rig features a McGaughy’s premium 7-9-inch adjustable lift kit, Fox dual-reservoir shocks front and rear, Helwig Suspension anti-roll bars and airbag kit. Raceline Flow Form wheels, size 22×12-inch, and Toyo Open Country tires provide solid ground contact.

Featured in the Iron Cross Automotive, its low-profile HD front and rear bumpers and HD steps, along with a T-Rex black mesh grille and UnderCover bedcover, BedRug liner, swing cases and Avec USA LED light bars in the bumper and rock lights will make an impression. The interior will be treated with Roadwire leather covers and painted accent pieces for the right amount of style to flow into the cab.

For added power, a 3-inch intercooler tubing kit and a 3-inch turbo downpipe, as well as a polished stainless exhaust system from MBRP, an Injen Technology air intake and ECU and TCM tuning from PPEI will all team up for increased performance. An Edge CTS2 Insight programmer will help monitor performance parameters as well as control the truck’s LED lighting setup. Paintwork is by Mo’s Paint and Body in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and all performance and suspension upgrades by Backwoods 4×4 in Franklinton, Louisiana.

Chris Stafford’s 2015 Chevrolet 2500HD

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.

EV Builder’s Guide Headlines SEMA 2022 EV Panel

Magazine editors, contributors and industry insiders will discuss the global opportunities of electric trucks at SEMA next November.

In the first year of its existence, EV Builder’s Guide will moderate a SEMA 2022 panel: The Electric Truck: Tap into New Opportunities.

The panel’s appearance demonstrates the growing EV interest at SEMA but also the magazine’s importance to the larger aftermarket industry. “There was no EV presence there before,” says founding editor Chris Hamilton, “and now we’re hearing, ‘Keep up the good work.'”

With new editor-in-chief Jérôme Andre, the EV Builder’s Guide panel at SEMA 2022 also begins the magazine’s pivot to covering EVs worldwide.
By 2025, a majority of global consumers expect to buy an EV, and so Andre and Hamilton will gladly explain how the magazine is already bringing EV insight to the world of readers who want it.
He has been an auto journalist for over 20 years, but in 2016 Andre turned to the fledgling EV industry he saw in the United Kingdom. “I did my first story about a classic car-EV conversion in the U.K.,” he says. “I could tell that was the way forward because conversions make a classic care more reliable and enjoyable to use.”

He and Hamilton agree that the EVs from the U.K., Europe and Australia will appear in the magazine’s coming issue.
“It’s important to bring international coverage to international readers in Issue 2,” Andre says.
“We cannot just cover stories in America, and so we’ve got pieces from owners modifying their cars around the globe.” Those stories also include India, where Andre hints there is more EV potential than many expect.
Hamilton and Andre will join three other panelists from the EV industry to discuss the future trends of electric trucks for builders, consumers and technicians.
Andre, for one, is already describing a future trend he sees: retrofitting existing internal combustion engine vehicles with electric drivetrains, rather than building all-new EVs.
“Even mainstream European manufacturers are considering it, because it makes more sense for them. They were really against it five years ago and now they’ve embraced it.”
He adds that American manufacturers might not be far away from a similar move: “I wouldn’t be surprised if GM or Ford worked out retrofitted models in the next five years,” he says. But that’s just one item for the future that he’s bringing to the panel.
The Electric Truck: Tap into New Opportunities” will occur on Nov. 1, 2022, at 11 a.m. in the West Hall of SEMA. Hamilton will moderate a four-person panel that includes Andre, contributor and Legacy EV Design Engineer Tim Cachelin, Electrified Garage CEO Chris Salvo, and Battle Motors Chief Technology Officer Kelleigh Ash

All The Best Engines From SEMA 2019!

Everyone loves cool engines right?! Well, we decided to capture all the best truck engine set-ups at SEMA 2019 so you can spend your afternoon drooling. Which one is your favorite? Check them all out!