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Celebrity Encounters Of The SEMA Kind

Car Show Celebrity appearances happen at many big events like custom hot rod shows or auctions. At SEMA they are everywhere. If there is a motorsports star, celebrity builder, YouTuber or Instagrammer with an automotive endorsement deal or show on Motortrend, History, etc, they were at SEMA, doing meet & greets from the booths of their respective sponsors. Quite a few were scheduled in the SEMA app and I made sure to add them to my calendar. Now, I’m not an autograph hound per se, but the idea of getting access to some folks whose signatures on an 8x10 headshot might help raise some money for a car show I’m involved with sounded like a good proposition.

First appointment on my agenda, meet Cristy Lee of Celebrity IOU Joyride on Discovery+. I’ve been a fan of Cristy since her days on All Girls Garage and Motortrend’s coverage of Barrett-Jackson. When I began Car Show Life’s Instagram page, she was one of the first car people I followed. She does some great stuff on that platform, including integrating her endorsement partnerships into content, like this Instagram reel for Covercraft from last winter (click here). I was so excited to meet her, I showed up early to the Covercraft booth and became the first stalker...<ahem> fan in line.

She arrived as the Covercraft folks were working on her signing set up and, when offered a stool, Cristy didn’t hesitate to just pick up a chair and start arranging things herself. That really impressed me. She’s a hands-on talent. What else would you expect from a mechanic and home renovation enthusiast?

Our brief chat consisted of talk about her recent home improvement project, her garage renovation. She had been documenting the experience on social media the previous weekend. She gave me a list of the things she still had to do: drywall, lights, welding station, moving in all the tools, etc. “And don’t forget the vehicles!” I added. It certainly sounds like a #garagegoals result in the works once she’s all done. I had Cristy make out an autograph to the Camaro Nationals event which will be held in July 2022 at Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown, PA. I also had to get a selfie, cause, well, Instagram. Of course, I look like an absolute tool next to her. I have the same problem in photos with my lovely wife as well. It’s what happens when you pair a two with a ten. On to my next stop, the Griot’s Garage exhibit to meet Chris Jacobs of Overhaulin’ and Discovery Channel fame.


Griot’s Garage had two displays at SEMA 2021, indoors in the newly completed West Hall and outdoors in the Silver Lot. The App showed the meet & greet taking place in the West Hall, so I trekked over there only to find out they had Chris outdoors. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one confused by this. Chris Jacobs himself also had to do an about face at the West Hall.

Once again, I found myself first in line and had a few extra moments to chat with a guy I feel like I already knew. I’ve been watching Chris on TV with his “brutha-from-another-mother”, Chip Foose on Overhaulin’ for years. More recently, I’ve been following his life’s journey on Instagram and we chatted about his impending fatherhood. “Have we met before,” he asked. “Nope,” I replied, “we’ve just interacted on social.” I asked him if he’s gonna try to fit a child car seat into his prized Porsche, Grand National or Challenger. I’m looking forward to seeing which of his awesome rides will “baby” best. I also had Chris make out an autographed pic for the “Overhauled” Camaro Nationals this coming July.

My final scheduled meet & greet was with Tyler Hoover, of Hoovie's Garage on Youtube and the current Barrett-Jackson broadcasts on History & FYI. History had some cardboard cut outs of Tyler and Danny “The Count” Koker of Counts Customs and Tyler promoted his appearance at the History Booth with his flat doppelganger, so I insisted that I get a selfie with @The_Real_Hoovies_Garage and the NOT @The_Real_Hoovies_Garage.

Celebrity or not, everyone I encountered at SEMA was so warm and inviting. Even the chance encounters with notable car folks, which can get prickly sometimes, were wonderful experiences. I spotted Randy Weaver of Weaver’s customs at the Adam’s Polishes booth. Walking thru the Silver lot on my last day, I saw “Horny Mike” from Counts Kustoms. But, my two greatest moments happened on my very first day as things were being set up.

I was shooting video and pictures of the Foose Experience and I noticed several Foose Design folks milling about, removing the paper floor mats and plastic seat covers from the cars and doing some final detail primping. One guy was in the cars applying decals to the corners of the windows to document the car name and the names of the owners. When he emerged from the front seat of “Impression”, that Foose Design employee was none other than Chip Foose himself! I got the chance to tell him how much I admire his work, not just the custom car builds, but also his ability to put pen to paper and draw those incredible renderings.

The other car designer I’m absolutely in awe of is Dave Kindig of Kindigit Design and TV’s Bitchin Rides. Dave’s design aesthetic makes for some of my favorite custom cars. I was exploring the Silver Lot on the eve of the show opening as the Kindigit Team was unloading a pair of Corvettes. These were the CF1 roadsters that they were debuting at SEMA as the first turn-key hot rod by Kindigit Design, based on the C1 Corvette with bodies made entirely of Carbon Fiber. Getting a photo with Dave Kindig brought me full circle to where I was in 2019, spotting these guys in the lobby of the Encore. I was too timid to ask for a photo then, but I got the chance to tell him about that moment and how, two years later, I felt like I had arrived. For me, the Car Show Life is a sweet one!

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