The Street Machine Nationals series partnered with SEMA this year in an effort to bring one young participant (age 27 or younger) to the 2017 SEMA Show to compete in the Battle of the Builders - Young Guns competition. The goal? To expose young builders to the automotive aftermarket industry and provide them with opportunities to grow their businesses, job opportunities and networks.
25 year old, Austin Haynes, of Johnson City, IL won the Street Machine Nationals Young Guns entry with his 1970 Chevy C-10. Austin's classic truck was on display with some of the industry's top show cars and trucks last week in Las Vegas and he and his family were treated like true VIPs by the SEMA staff.
Austin recounts his week as a VIP at the 2017 SEMA Show in the Q&A below.
Q: STREET MACHINE NATIONALS | What have you taken away from your experience as a Battle of the Builders - Young Gun contestant at the 2017 SEMA Show?
A: HAYNES | This experience was just truly amazing. It was a huge accomplishment for my small shop, Southern Speed & Customs, and for me personally just to be at the show. It's been an incredible opportunity for me to put my truck out there to showcase the kind of work we can do at the shop.
Q: STREET MACHINE NATIONALS | Has attending the SEMA Show widened your custom auto hobby horizons?
A: HAYNES | Absolutely! I've been amazed at the products and innovation I've seen out here this week. So much of this hasn't made it out to us small builders in the Midwest yet. I've got plans to bring some of the technology we've seen out here back to the shop to see how we can apply it to current and future projects.
Q: STREEET MACHINE NATIONALS | What are some of the highlights from your week at SEMA?
A: HAYNES | The SEMA staff truly put us on a high-profile pedestal, I never could have even imagined that we would be doing interviews with Velocity and Discovery, meeting the President of SEMA and attending the exclusive SEMA Awards Banquet with some of the movers & shakers in the industry!
I also got to meet one of my heroes in this industry, Chip Foose. To meet the man behind all of the incredible builds was seriously mind-blowing for me. He took the time to talk with me about my truck, noticed the Foose Wheels on my ride, took pictures with me and my family and autographed some business cards for us with a C/10 sketch. He is seriously a stand-up guy.
Q: STREEET MACHINE NATIONALS | Do you have another project car/truck in mind?
A: HAYNES | I've got some plans in the works. I have a 1959 El Camino picked out that I hope to be able to have out at the DuQuoin Street Machine Nats next year.