There has been a lot of talk — and action — at this 50th annual SEMA Show about attracting young people to careers involving cars.
The day before the show began, as part of the SEMA Career Paths initiative, some 600 high school and college students attended the first Student Career Day to learn about potential careers working for automotive and aftermarket companies.
The SEMA Show also featured the annual Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge in which teams of high school students compete in an engine-building contest.
SEMA also announced during the show that it has begun accepting applications for scholarships of as much as $5,000 for those studying in technical and business fields.
And then there’s actor Sung Kang and his Project Underdog.
“If I were a car, I would be the Maverick,” Kang, who drove the classic compact Ford in the movie, Fast & Furious Five, said in a news release.
“The Maverick has always been underappreciated, overlooked and undervalued,” he added. “The Underdog.”
Kang worked a trio of students from California’s Alhambra High School and with custom car-builder Steve Strope to transform a 1972 Maverick into the Project Underdog car that was displayed in the Shell stand at the SEMA Show. Shell’s Pennzoil brand supported the project, as did several SEMA-member companies, and SEMA loaned its SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California, so the Project Underdog team had a place to work on the car.
The car has a 2.3-liter Ford EcoBoost four-cylinder engine boosted to nearly 400 horsepower with aftermarket turbos and intercooler, a Tremec manual 6-speed transmission, wears a Rocket Bunny body kit, has carbon fiber hood and trunk, and a redesigned interior.
The car will be going to auction with proceeds from the eventual sale doing to the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Foundation to provide aide for students pursuing automotive careers.
“The Underdog,” Kang said of the car. “But those who love her are loyal forever. This and the chance to make a difference for these students is something I can stand behind.”