2024 SEMA Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

2024 SEMA Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

SEMA has announced the newest members of its Hall of Fame: Chris Kersting, Jack Priegel, Les Rudd and Jon Wyly.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has announced the newest members of its Hall of Fame: Chris Kersting, Jack Priegel, Les Rudd and Jon Wyly. SEMA is extending an invitation to the industry to join in honoring them as they are welcomed into the Hall of Fame at the­­ SEMA Leaders & Legends Gala on July 19 in Anaheim, Calif.

“The automotive specialty-equipment industry, and SEMA as a whole, owes a lot of its success to the tireless contributions of our newest Hall of Fame members,” said SEMA President and CEO Mike Spagnola. “Whether it was helping to build up companies or providing services that were once a gap in the industry, their legacies have left a mark that will enrich our industry for generations to come.” 

Chris Kersting: As SEMA president and CEO from 2002 until his retirement in 2022, Kersting led the organization through two decades of significant growth. During his tenure, he grew the globally recognized SEMA Show and bolstered the success of 6,000-plus SEMA member companies through programs and services, including the SEMA Data Co-op (now SEMA Data), SEMA Garage & Emissions Lab, SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC), SEMA Ignited, SEMA Garage Detroit, and acquisition of the Performance Racing Industry (PRI). He also led the Association through times of difficult challenges, such as the 2008 recession and COVID pandemic. 

Prior to his role as president and CEO, Kersting led SEMA’s Washington, D.C., office as vice president of government affairs, where he urged lawmakers to pass bills that protected the interests of SEMA member companies and challenged government regulation to maintain innovation and growth in the aftermarket industry. Association membership, approximately 2,400 when Kersting started, grew steadily during his tenure and topped more than 6,400 member companies at his tenure’s end–a period of rapid growth for both the Association and the industry.

“I feel so fortunate to have had a lifelong career working with smart, interesting, and good people,” said Kersting. “SEMA’s reason for existence was to help the people in this great industry and to give them tools and fuel to blast forward. I feel honored and humbled to have that work recognized.”

Jack Priegel: Priegel was an electrical engineer and worked for Raytheon at White Sands Missile Range, NM, before he founded Autotronic Controls Corporation, better known as MSD Ignition, in his garage in 1970. Priegel and his engineers invented the multiple spark discharge ignition system known as MSD. MSD drove ignition technology for over 40 years to both the street and racing markets, bringing soft touch rev limiting to the performance and racing market in addition to crankshaft trigger systems, timing retards, start retards, and many other ignition products. Under his leadership, MSD was a SEMA member and active SEMA Show participant for over four decades. Priegel supported his team members to be active SEMA volunteers during all of those years. Priegel died in September 2018.

“It’s such an honor, and I’m proud of him and the work he accomplished,” said Sharon Priegel, Jack’s wife, upon hearing about the Hall of Fame announcement.

Les Rudd: With extensive involvement in SEMA and the automotive industry for over 35 years, Rudd’s leadership and guidance have been pivotal to the industry. His tenure on the SEMA Board of Directors, including notable roles such as treasurer and chair elect, provided invaluable direction and stability to the organization. Furthermore, Rudd’s active participation across various councils, networks, and committees fostered collaboration and unity within the industry. His efforts facilitated networking opportunities, thereby promoting collective progress and growth, solidifying SEMA’s role as a unifying force. Today, as president of Bob Cook Sales, Rudd’s responsibilities encompass a myriad of roles, from business management and sales leadership to manufacturer representation. His steadfast dedication to advancing the interests of his clients and the industry at large continues to be the guiding force behind his illustrious career.

“How do I now enter industry eternity with my heroes, my mentors, my friends? There is nothing more humbling than to be honored by your peers,” said Rudd. 

Jon Wyly: At a time when the industry was struggling with data due to the absence of an industry data standard, Wyly organized a group of SEMA members to define the problem via the SEMA Business Technology Committee (BTC). The BTC evolved into the SEMA Data Co-op (now SEMA Data), which Wyly ran as the program’s CEO for five years. SEMA Data is a key member benefit that offers manufacturers a way to better organize their data and drive business success. With a career spanning over 40 years in the automotive aftermarket, including key roles in sales, marketing, e-commerce, and business data management, Wyly also served on numerous SEMA task forces and work groups, including six years on the SEMA Board of Directors, and was named SEMA Person of the Year in 2005 in recognition of his contributions.­  

“I’ve had the good fortune to spend my entire career in an industry that I love, surrounded by talented, inspiring people,” said Wyly. “Now, to find myself honored with induction into the SEMA Hall of Fame alongside many of my friends and heroes, is nothing short of amazing and quite a humbling experience.”

In addition to formally inducting Kersting, Priegel, Rudd, and Wyly as SEMA Hall of Fame members during the 2024 SEMA Leaders & Legends Gala, the event on July 19 will include recognitions of the newly elected and outgoing SEMA Board members. Ticket information will be announced in mid-May.

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