Brett Hearn raced to victory in the Super DIRTcar Series season finale Saturday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. (HHP/Alan Marler Photo)
Brett Hearn put in an impressive performance during the World Finals in November. (HHP/Alan Marler Photo)

SHEHEEN: Plenty Was New At SEMA

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — This year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas went off without a hitch. With last year’s event having been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many wondered if the 2021 SEMA Show would happen and what would it would be like if it did.

Normally, the SEMA Show is wall to wall with people. Clogged aisles make it difficult to get anywhere quickly. This year’s crowd was approximately 80 percent of the usual capacity. One key reason for the slightly smaller turnout was the lack of Asian and European companies since those show attendees couldn’t travel to Sin City due to COVID restrictions.

However, the new West Hall that just opened at the Las Vegas Convention Center also helped spread the show and its attendees out even further. This massive facility housed the off-road displays, which are a large segment of today’s aftermarket industry.

The two most customized vehicles on the show floor were the new C8 Corvette and the Ford Bronco. They were everywhere and in a wide variety of customized forms. 

Whether you like the idea of electric motors or not, they were seen throughout the SEMA Show floor and used in every type of vehicle imaginable.

One thing that hasn’t changed was the large contingent of racing products on display and racers walking the aisles. This is a great indicator that the upcoming industry show season, with events such as PRI, RPM, etc., will be strongly attended.

– Based on what we heard during the late October NHRA event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we expect there to be numerous major announcements regarding teams, driver lineups and sponsors during this month’s PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis. It should be an exciting week for the NHRA and drag racing fans.

– We capped a busy week-and-a-half of travel, which included the NHRA event in Las Vegas, SEMA and the GAA Classic Car Auction in Greensboro, N.C., with the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Despite frigid temperatures, the grandstands were packed! Dirt racing is immensely popular these days.

– David Gravel tells us he will return to the seat of Tod Quiring’s No. 2 sprint car next year. “Tod believes in me and that’s what you need as a driver,” Gravel said.

– When asked how many midgets he would field for January’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Tim Clauson told us that he expects five entries in the Clauson Marshall Racing pits at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway.

– We witnessed two very impressive drives on Saturday night during the World Finals. In the big-block modified feature, Max McLaughlin worked his way from 30th starting position to finish sixth.

Donny Schatz put on a clinic in the World of Outlaws sprint car finale, rolling from 25th to third at the checkered flag.

However, 63-year-old Brett Hearn showed he hasn’t forgotten how to win. “The Jet” picked up his 920th career victory in the night’s big-block modified headliner. It was his 450th DIRTcar-sanctioned triumph. Hearn also won the first big-block modified race at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in 2001. Hearn told the crowd after the race, “I visualized myself in victory lane while I was traveling to Charlotte.” 

It worked!

– We were honored to again be one of the hosts for the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown. The 20th anniversary of this special event brought the 12 best engine builders from Hendrick Motorsports together with the 12 best service techs from Hendrick Automotive Group. 

By the time they get to the final round, it’s as fierce of a battle as you will see on any race track. 

This year’s winners were John Boydston of Hendrick Motorsports and Dave Frey from Hendrick Automotive Group. Boydston won multiple NASCAR Cup Series cham­pionships as the engine tuner for Jimmie Johnson. This was his second title in the Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown. They assembled a Chevy NASCAR R07 engine from scratch and then ran it for 60 seconds in 23 minutes and 39 seconds.

– Big thanks to the folks at Hendrick Motorsports for the invitation to attend their recent play day at zMAX Dragway. A wide variety of high-horsepower Camaros were available to exercise. It was a day full of thrilling blasts down the quarter-mile strip and tire-punishing laps around the temporary road course. 

While the Z/28, SS and 1LE Camaros were thrilling, the drag strip special edition COPO Camaro really took our breath away — literally. Thanks, Mr. H!

– Congratulations to Brady Bacon on winning his fourth USAC National Sprint Car Championship title. Brady is a regular monthly columnist in our sister publication Sprint Car & Midget magazine. Way to go Brady!

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