The oxford dictionary defines
a celebrity as “a Famous person, especially in entertainment
or sport” … or in the Automotive Industry. Ok, so
I added the last bit. The craze of Reality TV Shows has definitely
broadened the scope of what defines a celebrity. Almost like a
cross between a well known individual and an entertainer. These
are some of the celebrities we met at SEMA 2013.
Tanner Foust – Top Gear USA
Most of us know who Tanner Foust is. What surprised me is that
most Americans DON’T. While waiting to meet the man, an
American couple actually approached us, whispering their question
to me, “Who’s this?” “Tanner Foust”
I say, to which they just shrug their shoulders, “Top Gear
USA, Rally X, Supercars Exposed” I say, but all I get is
an “OK” and they move on.
Ryan Friedlinghaus – West Coast Customs
Surprisingly (to me at least), signing autographs with his son.
Cool little guy LOL. (Ryan or his son? – Ed)
Rod Chong – Speedhunters.com
I am sure that he would not agree with the celebrity status we
have given him here. For those who don’t know, Rod Chong
is the creative director of a “little” website called
Speedhunters.com. What a humble and completely down to earth guy.
He found it very weird that we were honoured to meet him. During
our 10 minute conversation he spent more time trying to convince
me that he was just an amateur photographer with the same passion
for cars that we have.
Ishmael “Ish” Jimenez – West Coast Customs
Master upholsterer at West Coast Customs. Ish was actually manning
the West Coast Customs booth when we met him. Not the biggest
talker (just like on the show), but a really cool character.
Chip Foose - Overhaulin
Chip Foose is one of the few at SEMA who will unfortunately never
be able to enjoy the show. The man is considered a Legend in the
Muscle Car game that dominates in the States and thus has a superstar
status at SEMA. People queue to meet him for an hour before he’s
supposed to get there and the line averages at a 2 hour wait to
meet him. But with him only being available for an hour, chances
are slim that you will meet him.
On my first attempt to meet the man, I was met with the two hour
line which was already cut off. The gentleman controlling the
line actually said to me that half of the people standing in the
queue are well aware that they probably won’t meet him.
So I would have to try again the next day. But this time I would
go prepared. I arrived at the stand where Chip Foose would be
signing autographs a full hour before the time, but as it was
the last day of the show, it was already over 50 people long.
Some might say I am mad to queue for over almost two hours just
to meet a car designer, but I assure you it was worth it. We met
lots of great folks in the states, but it was in this queue that
we met the greatest bunch of car guys. Our new friends from Mexico,
Enrique, JJ and Alex (Alejandro). We look forward to entertain
them when they head to Cape Town for a visit!
Chip was signing autographs with Chris Jacobs (presenter for the
show Overhaulin). Both great guys and Chip said he does his own
hair every morning. Yes, I asked him who does his hair. LOL. Chris
actually said that Chip wakes up with his hair looking the way
it does. LOL
Counts Kustoms – Danni the Count and Kevin
Very popular guys, especially considering the show, “Counting
Cars” is fairly new. These guys greeted me like we were
old friends and were just completely genuine. When they heard
we were from South Africa, they made a massive deal about it (in
a good way). We are not that small on the map as it may seem.
Farm Truck and AZN (Sean Whitley and Jeff Bonnett)
Proof that reality TV doesn’t turn everyone into the Kardashians.
(I used to love that show BTW LOL)
These guys were genuinely interested in getting to know all their
“fans”. Hell, the couple in front of me just wanted
an autograph for their son … but Sean and AZN would have
none of that. They insisted on getting their son on the phone
and proceeded to have a conversation with him ragging him about
his car and calling him out for a race.
They were completely amazed that we had travelled that far to
SEMA and were very curious about our Drag and Street Racing Scene.
When asked if I wanted to take a picture with them, they were
ecstatic about my “Special Request” to choke AZN.
We had a good laugh and I went on my way only to hear Sean mention
to the rest of the crowd gathered for autographs, “I don’t
know how you guys are going to top RACEWEB, cause that was awesome”.
If you haven’t heard of the Farmtruck, please YouTube it.
They are on a TV Show called Street Outlaws. While we at Raceweb
do not in any way condone Street Racing, we love the show for
what it is. Local guys might want to take note of their disclaimer
at the start of the show as well as where they choose to set-up
their street racers.
Bryn Musselwhite – Speedhunters.com
Another one that won’t agree with the celebrity status we’ve
given him. We first met Bryn at Killarney when he was down here
shooting the Fords and Friends Event. Bryn is the Editor in Chief
for Speedhunters. Bumping into someone you actually know at SEMA
is unheard of … a 1 in 80000 chance really. While shooting
some stunning 86’s I noticed him walking past us out of
the corner of my eye. “Musselwhite” I screamed, to
which he replied, “My South African buddy” LOL.
After he "crapped" us out for not getting in contact
with him sooner we discussed the shear insanity that is SEMA,
the Liberty Walk 458 and photography. Being a Speedhunter, he
was able to offer some insider insight to what makes SEMA tick
with some interesting tid bits that normal show goers would never
even hear of. (No I don’t plan on telling you).
And that was a great end to our SEMA Experience. It truly is an
experience of a lifetime that every petrol head should try and
do, you won’t regret it!