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Sun, 27 Nov 2005, 10:17 AM

2005 SEMA Show
By Jim Luikens
Photo copyright 2005 Jim Luikens

For the 37th time the performance aftermarket industry gathered for their annual trade show. Sprinkled among the more than 2000 booths were a number of interesting drag racing vehicles. Come along as I take you inside the trade-only event, which is closed to the public, for a peek at the wide variety of drag racing vehicles that were on display.

Although John Force seemed to be everywhere during SEMA week the only Forcemobile on display could be found in the Castrol booth. It was the Castrol Syntec funny car of Eric Medlen.

Borla Exhaust had different racing celebrities signing racing posters each day. On Tuesday it was Brandon Bernstein's turn behind the counter.

In the Fidanza booth was the 2005 Scion tC Coupe of Titan Motorsports. Built in Illinois by Rick Jones' RJ Chassis, it debuted at this year's NHRA US Nationals. The Scion tC is driven by Brad Personnett.

On Thursday it was Pat Musi's (right) turn to man the Borla booth, along with an unidentified off-road racer. Pat had just flown in from Piedmont Dragway's North-South Big Dog Shootout where the North team, of which he is captain, had reigned victorious

Pat Musi may have been in the Borla booth but his famous Firebird, Popeye, could be found in the Stewart-Warner booth. Amazingly the Firebird had competed in the North-South Big Dog Shootout the prior Saturday night in North Carolina. A non-stop drive by Pat's two over-the-road truck drivers had Popeye in Las Vegas before noon on Monday, just in time for final show set-up.

One of the most amazing engineering feats on display was the four-wheel drive Subaru of Ali Afshar. The car weighs 2000 pounds and its turbocharged 2.5 liter Subaru engine makes 1200 horsepower which is transmitted through a stock Subaru six-speed manual transmission to all four wheels. Afshar's Easy Street Motorsports prepared the car in their North Hollywood, California shop.

Here's a view of Afshar's complete car with its new-for-2006 front clip which has been restyled to reflect the changes in the comparable street Subaru that it's based on. Despite not having recorded a full power run yet due to launch problems the car has recorded a best run of 9.20 seconds at 173 miles-an-hour. The car features, among other things, an all carbon-fiber body.

Ali Afshar's team mate at Easy Street is Julie Stepan of Grand Prairie, Texas. Julie's Subaru runs in the Sports RWD class and it had a very successful 2005 season. For 2006 it is unchanged beyond a new nose that reflects the new corporate look of the comparable street Subaru.

Here's Julie with her Wallys. In 2005 the car ran in six events and made the final round all six times, winning four events and runner-upping twice. The other Wallys belong to team owner Afshar. Julie's SRW-class Subaru carries a complete interior and weighs 3100 pounds. Its best run is 9.21 seconds at 150 miles-an-hour.

One of the most innovative displays belonged to long-time drag racing supporter Hedman Hedders. Its booth featured a silk-screened back drop that had been created to look like an old-time speed shop.

In the Dunlop Tire booth, and riding on Dunlop Direzza drag slicks, was the Mitsubishi Eclipse of Florida's 'Big Len' Monserrat. The PRO FWD entry produces 1100 horsepower on nitrous according to the accompanying sign and uses a G-Force five-speed transmission.

It wasn't all Sport Compact drag race cars at this year's show, although sometimes it felt like it. Here is Ron Hope's Original Rat Trap Fuel Altered. The ribbon attached to the roll bar means that it was a winner in the Meguir's competition among cars that were on display.

Here's the PRO RWD AEM Honda of Steph Papadakis, one of the real legends in Sport Compact racing. It features a twin-turbo Acura engine and Toyo Tires.

Another legend in Sport Compact racing, Vinny Ten, was just across the aisle. This is his twin-turbo Nissan 350Z with its front-end removed so that all can see the magnificent plumbing job done for the twin-turbos. Every one of these PRO RWD machines is a hand made work of art.

Speaking of art, how about the factory-supported Chevrolet Cobalt of Marty Ladwig. It could be found in the booth of Sport Compact Series sponsor, Sony Xplod. Note how the entire four-cylinder engine mounts forward of the differential, which drives the front wheels. The car has recorded a best of 7.53 seconds at 202.02 miles-an-hour.

Gary Gabriella's Cobalt was in the DuPont booth. Painted a gorgeous Candy Apple Red, it carried the colors (no pun intended) of co-sponsor DuPont's Hot Hues Paints and rode on M/T drag slicks.

For nostalgia drag fans the A/Gas 1969 Chevrolet Camaro of Mark Mahood could be found in the Drag Racer Magazine booth. Reflecting his traditional approach, Mark, a hitter on the Good Guys circuit, uses Goodyear tires on all four corners of his blown Camaro.

One of the more unique Sport Compact entries is the Mazda 6 four door sedan of Ed Bergenholtz. Ed's car was on display in the Audiobahn booth along with a glass case that displayed his championship trophies.

Ed had a giant-size decal of his world championship trophy and ring on the hood of his car in the event that anyone missed his world championship title. As you can see he uses Nitto Tires. The diversity of tire brands in Sport Compact racing is simply amazing.

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