Endorsements

Thoughts from well respected people in the industry

 
 

Doug Yates

 
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“On behalf of the entire Roush Yates Engines organization, we would like to endorse Russell Stephens for the 2019 Chairman of the Board at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). As CEO and co-owner of Roush Yates Engines, I feel it is critical that we align the Chairman of the Board position with dedicated and an experienced racing individual like Russell Stephens.

At Roush Yates Engines, we engineer and build over 1,000 high performance engines in partnership with Ford Motor Company. Roush Yates Engines is the exclusive engine builder of the NASCAR FR9 Ford V8 engine and twin-turbo EcoBoost Ford V6 race engine that powers the Ford GT super car in the IMSA and FIA series

Our company has been working with MSD and Russell since 2004, but for many years before this, with Robert Yates Racing. Russell has over 30 years of industry experience and loyalty with MSD. He has also been active as a SEMA volunteer for over 25 years, demonstrating his passion and commitment to the SEMA organization and the after-market business. In closing, I believe that Russell Stephens would be a tremendous asset to the SEMA organization and our industry!”

Doug Yates, President/CEO of ROUSH-YATES

 

Tony Stewart

 

“Just wanted to say that I really enjoy working with Russell. His attention to detail and passion for Motorsports, show in everything he does. He’s truly an asset to anything he gets involved in and puts 100% effort behind it. I endorse Russell Stephens for Chairman of the Board of SEMA. “

Tony Stewart, NASCAR Cup Series Champion

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Nick Fowler

 

“Having grown up in a family that loved cars and racing and then being blessed to have a vocation in the automobile and performance industry is more than I could have asked for. This industry is my passion and my livelihood - - one of the greatest treasures during this time is to work with and develop friendships with those that hold the same desires and wishes that will protect and grow this industry that we have the opportunity to work in. Russell Stephens has been a key figure for not only my business here at Scoggin Dickey Parts Center but also as a mentor and friend for more than 30 years.
I have spent countless hours serving with Russell thru SEMA and numerous other organizations watching him give back to the Automobile Industry.
Russell’s integrity and dedication are an inspiration to me. His leadership has guided several SEMA Committees and other organizations to new heights and has paved the way to the success that stands today as the backbone of what we get to participate in without hindrance.

I have served along side Russell and witnessed his ability to hear all of the ideas, all of the opportunities, all of the challenges and present solutions that work for everyone in these changing times. He is not afraid of change and yet Russell brings a wealth of knowledge from the past that is often a key to moving forward in the future.
Russell’s personal contacts and outreach in this industry is second to none. I have watched Russell use these assets to gain information and improve his knowledge of the industry. Without a doubt, Russell has honed his skills to become one of the most complete and well rounded leaders in the Automotive Industry today.
He has stood along side me as a trusted friend in times of need and always lent a helping hand when required. I cannot think of anyone more deserving or more qualified than Russell Stephens for the SEMA Board.”

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Nicky Fowler, VP - Scoggin Dickey Parts Center

 

DENNIS GAGE

“I was on the SEMA Board for seven years and a number of those were with Russell.  He’s solid, methodical and I don’t think anybody’s more dedicated to the aftermarket than he is.  Russell’s not flashy.  He’s just really good!”

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Dennis Gage- Host-My Classic Car TV Show

 

RICHARD CHILDRESS

“Having known and worked alongside Russell Stephens for the better part of 30 years throughout Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) partnership with MSD, I can personally attest to his leadership abilities, his dedication to his craft as well as his commitment to family. When he was announced as President of MSD in 2009, I felt there was no better candidate out there and commended that decision.  His leadership and proven success of the MSD brand over the past ten years as well as his countless hours of volunteering for SEMA, both on the floor and in the boardroom, is proof-positive that there’s no better candidate for Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors.  Russell is hands-down the best choice to lead the association into the next phase of aftermarket industry growth.” 


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Richard Childress, Chairman & CEO – Richard Childress Racing

 

DENNIS ANDERSON

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Russell Stephens for over 20 years. He has played a huge role in the success of the Gravedigger Monster Truck Racing team as well as the King Sling Mud Racing Team. With his strength, passion and knowledge in performance parts along with his personal dedication, he is such an asset to the automotive industry. He will lead SEMA into a bigger and better future. I feel he is the obvious choice for Chairman of the SEMA Board.”

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Dennis Anderson, Creator of Grave Digger Monster Truck

DAVE KINDIG

“This endorsement is in the interest of Russell Stephens and his quest for the SEMA Chairman of the Board election. Russell Stephens in his role at MSD has been vital for our company and his attention to our needs and his dedication to the industry is an inspiration. I believe his abilities are amazing and his knowledge of the automotive aftermarket is remarkable and with great value.”

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Dave Kindig- Host of TV Show Bitchin’ Rides, Owner Kindigit Design

 

NATE SHELTON

“I have known Russell Stephens nearly 30 years both professionally and personally. In additional to his role as President of MSD, Russell has been a tireless volunteer for SEMA for over 25 years. Russell has served on the Board with me when I was Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors. He has been on the SEMA Board of Directors Select committee and chaired or served on numerous committees including the Nominating Committee, the WD of the Year Committee, the Rep of the Year Committee and SEMA Person of the Year Committee. I also know Russell is a serious car guy who is passionate about the industry and who has dedicated his whole life to it. His business sense, industry relationships and integrity are just what SEMA needs in a Chairman that will lead the association into the future. Having seen Russell in action in SEMA meetings and shows makes me confident in endorsing Russell for Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors.”

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Nate Shelton, SEMA Chairman of the Board 2015-2016, SEMA Hall of Fame, Former Chief Marketing Officer Driven Performance Brands

 

SCOOTER BROTHERS

“For close to 30 years Russell Stephens and I have worked in this industry together, served on the SEMA Board together and have even been competitors at times. I can testify to Russell’s character and his deep care of this industry. As a former SEMA Board Chairman, I know the qualities that are required to make a great SEMA Board Chairman. Russell has those qualities in addition to 30 years of industry experience and 25 years of SEMA service. Russell is the best choice to lead the SEMA association into the future. I endorse Russell Stephens for SEMA Chairman of the Board.”

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Scooter Brothers, SEMA Chairman of the Board 2011-2012, SEMA Hall of Fame, Co-Owner Comp Performance Group

 

BILL HURLEY

“Dear fellow SEMA members, we have a unique opportunity in front of us this year. The opportunity is to elect Russell Stephens to the position of SEMA Chairman of the Board.

Russell has not only served on the SEMA Board for three terms, but has chaired the Board of Directors Nominating Committee as well as the WD of the year Committee. Russell has served over ten times on SEMA Committees such as Person of the Year Committee, Rep of the Year Committee, MPMC Select Committee and SEMA Person of the Year Committee. Russell was also singled out when he was awarded the PWA Person of the Year in 2005.

Russell has worked for MSD for forty years, rising to President of the Company in 2009. He has demonstrated many times over his passion for fair business practices throughout the channels of distribution. He is on a first name basis with the giants of Drag, Circle Track and Off-Road Racing.

I invite you to do the Performance Industry a great service, elect Russell Stephens SEMA Chairman of the Board.”

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Bill Hurley- Managing Director, U.S. Performance Buying Group


RON FUNFAR

“I have had the privilege of knowing Russell Stephens for over 30 years. Even back in the day, Russell was a hard working car guy  at MSD with a tremendous passion for our industry. We would frequently run in to each other when on the road doing WD open houses. As time went on, Russell’s passion started to branch out as he tried to find other ways to help our Industry grow. Russell realized the best way to do that was to do all he could through SEMA……and that he did. Russell served on the SEMA Board of Directors for three terms totaling 7 years. One of the most gratifying things a person  can do is to serve on some of the several  Committees SEMA has. Again, he certainly did that. He served on the SEMA Board of Directors Nominating Committee five times serving as Chair 3 times. He also Chaired the WD of the year Committee and served on that Committee a total of seven times. Some of the other Committees Russell has served on are SEMA Person of the Year, SEMA Rep of the Year, SEMA Board of Directors Select Committee and  SEMA MPMC Select Committee. Russell is a strong supporter of the SEMA PAC President’s Club and won the coveted PWA Person of the Year Award. Here is a guy with a tremendous background in how SEMA works because he has been there and knows how to make things happen. When elected he will give his all to Serve as your Chairman of the Board. When your Ballot arrives choose Russell Stephens as SEMA Chairman of the Board.”

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Ron Funfar- President and COO, Hedman Performance Group, SEMA Hall of Fame Member

 

ANTRON BROWN

“Russell is a great man with passion, integrity and vision in the automotive landscape. I endorse him for Chairman of the Board of SEMA.”

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Antron Brown- Three time NHRA Top Fuel Champion

 

SAMMY SWINDELL

“I have known Russell Stephens for over 30 years, going back to my early years racing.  He has not only been a great person to work with professionally, but is also a great friend.  He has always answered my calls and helped me with every request, big or small. He takes the time to listen and get me the products and help I need. He is passionate about the racing industry and would be a great addition to the SEMA board.”  

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Sammy Swindell-  Three time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Champion

 

JACK BECKMAN

“My name is Jack Beckman, and my life quite literally centers around the automobile. I make my living driving a nitro Funny Car, and I still am very much a hod-rodder and hands-on guy when at home. I am endorsing Russell Stephens for Chair-Elect of the SEMA board, as I have a vested interest in the preservation of the aftermarket industry. My experiences with Russell are both professionally- through my racing- and  personally -over the past three years restoring my first car- , and I feel I am qualified to offer both character and personality references for him. Kudos to all of you at SEMA for everything that you do.”

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Jack Beckman- NHRA Funny Car Champion and Current Racer

 

JEFF BATES

I have known and worked with Russell Stephens for nearly three decades and have served alongside him on the SEMA Board of Directors, its Executive Committee, as well as Board Nominating Committee. He is smart, well balanced, and does not run from a challenge. His decision making while on the Board was well thought out and straight forward. He has forward thinking ideas and was always an active contributor. His commitment to SEMA and its members is hard to match with a long list of committees served on over many years

His industry experience is second to none, having guided MSD Ignition as its VP of Sales then its President since 2009. I worked as a Sales Representative for MSD for many years and got to see his business and industry experience firsthand.

His Industry, Business and SEMA experience make him an outstanding fit for the position of SEMA Chairman of the Board, and is the reason I’m endorsing him and his effort to run for the position.

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Jeff Bates- Partner/ Bob Cook Sales

BRETT ROOT

“I’ve known Russell Stephens for the extent of my 20-plus year career in the motorsports industry. I’ve admired his dedication to MSD, his honesty and have appreciated the time he’s devoted to SEMA, as both have positively impacted IMCA and our sanctioned tracks. Russell deserves all the considerable respect he receives from his peers in our industry. There could be no better qualified person to serve as chairman of the SEMA board of directors. “

Brett Root, President of IMCA

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Brett Root, President of IMCA

 

VON HOT ROD

 

TOM DEERY

“This industry is driven by passion. The leadership of our member organization must have the passion for the automobile; from motorsports to OEM and must be a skilled leader. Russell Stephens is that person.

We have an opportunity to elect a candidate for Chairman with the right resume and perfect experience to represent every discipline in the SEMA organization. His vast experience working with in the SEMA Organization for 25 years and a lifetime committed to the Industry are the credentials we need to steer the organization and membership into the future. Let’s make Russell our Chairman of the Board, the time is now.” 

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Tom Deery, President and COO, World of Outlaws and DIRTcar Racing

 

JIM BINGHAM

“My name is Jim Bingham and I’d like to tell you a little bit about Russell Stephens who’s running for SEMA Chairman of the board.

Being a SEMA Hall of Fame member and a SEMA board member myself over the past 6 years, I know what leadership the SEMA board needs and Russell is the right man at the right time!

Russell has served 7 years on the board of directors, serving as the chair on numerous committees, was awarded the 2005 PWA person of the year award. He has volunteered for over 25 years with SEMA.

Russell has 33 years working full time in the industry and is the current president of MSD LLC since 2009. He has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree Marketing Option from the University of Texas at El Paso

He is intimately involved in the circle track racing markets including NASCAR, sprint cars, late models and modifieds and is a passionate hot rodder with a ’32 Ford.

I ask that you vote for RUSSELL STEPHENS! He is the RIGHT MAN for SEMA Chairman of the board!”

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 Jim Bingham, SEMA Hall of Fame Member, President and CEO of Winner’s Circle Speed and Custom

 

JEFF KING

“I don’t often endorse people who are running for SEMA positions; however, in our upcoming election we have an opportunity to elect a truly outstanding person Chairman of the Association.  It has been my honor and pleasure to know and work with Russell Stephens for nearly thirty years. Russell is simply a great guy and in my opinion exactly the type of person we need leading the SEMA organization.  

Russell is active in all levels of our industry as a:

  • Passionate enthusiast – Russell loves cars and car people.

  • Customer centric sales and business leader – Russell cares about our end users and our distribution partners.  He has been recognized as the PWA Person of the Year, and under his leadership MSD has grown to be one of the truly outstanding companies in our industry.  He has a track record of building successful teams and relationships.

  • Staunch political ally for the industry at all levels of local, state, and federal government – Russell has lobbied on our behalf to ensure that our industry is treated fairly and that our rights are protected.  He cares what happens to our industry.

  • Active Association leader and volunteer – Russell has participated in leadership and support roles at all levels of the SEMA organization.  From chairing multiple nominating committees, to helping get the MPMC going, to serving multiple times on the SEMA Board of Director’s, Russell puts his time and heart into our association and industry.

On top of all of his meaningful accomplishments and industry involvement, Russell is most importantly, a very nice person.  He puts others first with a servant leadership style. Russell cares more about what gets done than who gets credit for it. We need him leading SEMA.

I urge you to vote for Russell Stephens for SEMA Chairman.  He is the right person for the job.”

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Jeffrey G. King, President and CEO, Engineered Performance Technologies

 

JOHN HOTCHKIS

“Please join me in supporting Russell Stephens for SEMA Chairman of the Board.  Significant experience and deep industry knowledge are vital qualities of a successful Board Chair and Russell has these in spades.  I have had the pleasure of serving with Russell on the SEMA Board and on various industry committees.  He is a thoughtful and tireless leader that encourages consensus, and makes the tough decisions in SEMA members best interest.  With many automotive industry and governmental challenges ahead, we need a strong Board leader with the drive and experience to keep our industry’s future bright.  Russell Stephens is hands down that leader. “

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John Hotchkis, President, Hotchkis Performance Inc., SEMA Board 2010-2015, SEMA PAC Chair 

 

MICHAEL RAO

“I have known and worked with Russell Stephens for 30 years. Russell has the experience, ability, and integrity to lead SEMA especially given the current challenges we face i.e. international tariffs, emission legislation, new vehicle technology, and international currency fluctuation. Russell’s experience in team management is an asset that will provide stability and enthusiasm throughout the industry. My professional and personal experience in working with Russell leaves no doubt that he is the best candidate to lead SEMA. “

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Michael Rao, Founder R&R Marketing

 

DOUG LANE

“I have been fortunate to be around and in the performance industry since I was a child.   Growing up in a family business that has been driven and helped along the way by many that have a true love and passion for the industry I respect those that have that same level of commitment that we do.  Russell Stephens is one of those people that truly cares about our industry and gives back in a way that strengthens and protects our industry.  I have been fortunate to know Russell for over 30 years and he has done a masterful job in his many roles at MSD from part time when he started to President today.  He has an educated understanding of both the performance aftermarket industry and how SEMA can continue to strengthen and preserve our livelihood. With his interest and experience in cars, racing, business, SEMA and this great industry I confidently endorse Russell for Chairman of the SEMA Board of Directors.”

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 Doug Lane- President, Motorstate Distributing, 6 time SEMA WD of the Year Award Winner

 

JOHN JOHNSON

Fellow SEMA Members:

 

I am pleased to support Russell Stephens in his efforts to become the SEMA Chair-Elect. I have known Russell for over ten years and had the pleasure of serving on the SEMA Board and Executive Committee with him for three of those years.

 

I support Russell for Chair with the following comments:

  • Integrity and Honesty

  • 25 years of contributions to SEMA and its members

  • Three terms on the SEMA Board

  • A huge performance aftermarket enthusiast

  • Owns and builds the products we represent (’32 Ford Coupe)

  • Experience in manufacturing, sales and distribution

  • President of MSD since 2009

 

Russell understands the needs of the diverse SEMA members and knows how the SEMA organization can and does work to the benefit of the members. As Chair, he will ensure that the SEMA organization successfully addresses the many challenges we face today and will face in the future.”

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John Johnson- Former SEMA Secretary/Treasurer, Managing Director- The Spartan Group, SEMA Person of the Year

 

DAN GRESHAM

It is with great pleasure that I endorse Russell Stephens for Chairman of SEMA.

I have known and worked with Russell for 15 years.  We worked together at MSD Ignition starting in 2004, we worked together as fellow Board Members of SEMA, and we’ve worked together for many years since then.  We’ve shared many triumphs and a few hard times.  On a personal level, there is no one on the planet better to share a foxhole with than Russell Stephens.

Beyond Russell’s outstanding personal qualities, no one in our industry has a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities before us than Russell.  Russell will bring to the Chairmanship of SEMA an understanding of the industry from the shop floor to the executive suite.  He has been on the front line of changing industry dynamics, changing technology, and the increasing role of government.

SEMA is a complex and huge activity with a disparate array of responsibilities to industry participants, various constituencies, governmental entities, and its members.  Russell’s years of service to SEMA, on its Board, as Chairman of the Directors Nominating Committee, countless other committees and volunteer assignments, give him the experience and knowledge needed to help SEMA face our industry’s continuing technical and industry changes.

Without any reservation, I support Russell Stephens as the right person for Chairman of SEMA.” 

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Dan Gresham- Former CEO MSD Performance, Former SEMA Treasurer, PWA Person of the Year, Industry Consultant

 

JEEP WORTHAM

I have known Russell for about 30 years and have worked side by side with him countless times.  I have had to work with him

at numerous shows, races and consumer events and our company even shared space with MSD for many years on a race display

trailer. I also served for several years with Russell on the SEMA Board of Directors and additionally worked with him on several of the

SEMA committees and task forces.

Russell is a hard working individual, totally focused on the responsibility at hand and promptly completes every mission he's assigned.

As a manager for MSD, and now President, he has a proven track record regarding his decision making on tasks, goals and direction.

It has been a pleasure to work with, brainstorm together, and learn from Russell Stephens.

Based on years of experience working with Russell, and serving on the board with him, I strongly endorse and recommend Russell for

Chairman of the SEMA Board.”

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 Jeep Worthan- Auto Meter VP Marketing &  Sales (retired), past SEMA Board Member, SEMA Hall Of Fame Member

 

MICHAEL KUNZMAN

I am proudly endorsing Russell Stephens for position as Chairman of the SEMA Board.  Russell has vast experience in service to SEMA having served three terms on the SEMA Board of Directors. He's also served on the BoD select committee, the SEMA Board of Directors Nominating Committee, the SEMA MPMC Select Committee, WD of the Year committee, the SEMA Rep of the Year committee and the SEMA Person of the Year committee. Russell was awarded the 2005 PWA Person of the Year and the SEMA MRC Inaugural Sales Team of the Year award during his years of serving. I've had the pleasure of representing MSD, working closely with Russell and the excellent team he gathered around him for many years.  I proudly attest to Russell 's strong sense of integrity, fairness, honesty, and great foresight as to forward directions and planning. Please give strong consideration to this outstandingly qualified person for SEMA leadership.”

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Michael Kunzman- President and Founder, Kunzman and Associates, Six Time Recipient SEMA Rep of the Year

 

RICK ROLLINS

Fellow SEMA Members:

As a past SEMA Board member for 18 years and as a past SEMA Chairman of the Board, I know exactly how important it is to vote; and more importantly, to vote for Russell Stephens as your next Chairman.

I’ve known Russell for over 30 years as both a competitor and a co-worker; also, as a fellow SEMA Board member, but I’m most proud to call him my friend. I know his work ethic, his consistent, tireless effort to do the right thing (for the industry) and his love for this industry. Therefore, I’m proud to endorse Russell Stephens for SEMA Chairman of the Board.”

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Rick Rollins-SEMA Chairman of the Board 2009-2011, SEMA Hall of Fame, MPMC Hall of Fame, Owner: FST Performance

 

MITCH WILLIAMS

“Dear Fellow SEMA Members,

I would like to ask for your support for Russell Stephens for SEMA Chairman.  As a 6 term SEMA Board Member and former SEMA Chairman, I think I know what it takes to take this position to the next level.  I served with Russell for several years on the SEMA Board and Russell has the passion, commitment, and experience to do just that.  

His leadership is exactly what SEMA needs to take another step towards our full potential as an industry and an association.  

Please cast your vote for SEMA’s future and elect Russell Stephens. “

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Mitch Williams, Former SEMA Chairman

 

SARAH BURGESS

“I want to take this opportunity to endorse Russell Stephens for Chair-Elect for the SEMA Board of Directors. 

I have had the amazing opportunity to spend time with Russell on a variety of levels – everything from admiring the MSD Brand as shop owner in Australia, to working for the company and observing Russell interact with hard core MSD fans to being a brand ambassador for MSD through my racing.

This automotive industry is unique – we have the older generation of hot rodders and an industry craving for new, young enthusiasts.  Russell has the experience to recognize the variety of levels of enthusiasts as well as the desperate need to get young people passionate about driving again, passionate about getting the hands dirty.  This is clearly obvious from his own passion for cars, attending car shows with Michele and their own hot rod and getting his grandson hands-on involved.

As a female in this industry Russell has treated me with the upmost respect and has ALWAYS taken the time to hear my thoughts about where our challenges lay within the aftermarket automotive industry.

I am proud to call Russell a friend, but more importantly a mentor; Russell is proof that through hard work, passion, dedication, loyalty and determination that you can gain respect and success. I vote for and support Russell Stephens for Chair-Elect for SEMA Board of Directors.”

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Sarah Burgess- Owner BMI Racing, Lucas Oil Offroad Racing Series Pro-Lite racer

 

TIM ODOM

I am pleased to endorse Russell Stephens in the upcoming election for the Chairmanship of the SEMA Board of Directors. On the personal level, I know Russell to be a person of character and integrity. I have worked with him as a customer for over two decades and I have found him to him fair-minded, approachable, and professional. I have had the honor to serve with him on various SEMA committees and I know he is passionate about our industry, the car culture, and about SEMA’s role in helping our businesses. These experiences lead me to believe that Russell is the best candidate on the ballot and will make an excellent SEMA Chairman.”

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 Tim Odom, President, The AAM Group

Sherman and Christy Barnett

“We’ve known Russell for thirty years both professionally and socially. We have 15 race cars, race 100 times per year, and have MSD ignitions on all our cars. We are also proud to have been sponsored by MSD and to have won over 800 trophies while racing for them. Russell shows up at local races and stays close to his customers. That personal touch of mixing with the consumers is what SEMA needs to drive new generations of enthusiasts to the stores and dealerships. We highly recommend Russell for Chairman.”

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Sherman and Christy Barnett, Barnett Harley-Davidson Racing Team, Barnett Harley-Davidson, Rides Auto Group