Car Culture

Car Culture

The 2020/2021 Automotive Hall of Fame’s Induction and Awards Ceremony will recognize innovators and influencers from across the global mobility industry. This year’s class mirrors the evolution of the automotive industry and is comprised of a diverse group of visionaries.

“This class of inductees is the Automotive Hall of Fame’s most diverse in terms of geographical region, race, gender and industry sector. Also, we have added a new award – Mobility Innovator Award,” said Ramzi Hermiz, chairman of the Automotive Hall of Fame Board of Directors. “It is our goal to recognize all individuals who have made clear and compelling contributions that helped shape the automotive industry.”

Since the postponement of the Induction and Awards Ceremony in 2020, three additional inductees have been added to the Class of 2020/2021: C.R. and Frederick Patterson – C.R. Patterson & Sons (later the Greenfield Bus Body Company) and Charles Wiggins, who was barred from participating in white-only events, including the Indianapolis 500. He was also a leader in the parallel Colored Speedway Association championships, becoming a four-time winner of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes. Known nationally as the “Negro King of Speed,” Charlie was a notable driver and an exceptional mechanic and engineer.

The previously announced inductees of this year’s class include: Honorary Chairman Mong-Koo Chung, the innovative leader and former chairman, who grew Hyundai/Kia into the world’s fifth largest car manufacturer and established the Hyundai brand synonymous for quality and reliability; Thomas Gallagher, the former chairman and president of Genuine Parts Corporation who successfully championed the independent owner model of NAPA stores, promoting distribution models that kept stores competitive and rooted in their communities, and advocated right-to-repair legislation; Jay Leno, founder of the Emmy Award-winning series, “Jay Leno’s Garage.” Leno is capturing generations of automotive enthusiasts through his passion for all things automotive; Helene Rother, known for her impeccable taste in design, Rother moved the post-war car market from interiors designed for utility to ones designed for luxury and sophistication. She was also the first woman hired in the styling department of General Motors.

The Mobility Innovator Awards recognize the outstanding work an individual has accomplished to introduce new technologies and services that are redefining mobility. This year’s winner is Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom and a member of its management board.

The 2021 Distinguished Service Citation, recognizing individuals who have had a significant positive impact on the industry or their respective organizations, go to; Sir Lewis Hamilton, professional driver, Formula One; and Ray Scott, CEO, Lear Corporation.

The  2021 Industry Influencer Awards, which recognize individuals who are influencing and leading through their actions, innovations and visible positions on issues pertinent to the automotive industry and its future, go to; Jim Baumbick, vice president, enterprise product line management, strategy, and planning, Ford Motor Company; Laurent Borne, president & CTO, Stoneridge; Nelda J. Connors, founder & CEO, strategic partner, Pine Grove Holdings, LLC; Chris Ludwig, vice president, EPIC Experience Team, HARMAN International;  Ben Volkow, CEO, Otonomo and Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer, General Motors.

The July 22 private ceremony will be held at the museum, located in Dearborn, Mich.

State Line Auto Auction ownership recently celebrated employee Child ‘John’ Williams on his 20th anniversary at the auction.

Williams started out in the body shop at State Line Auto Auction in 2001. His 20th anniversary was June 28. During his career, Williams has been a stalwart by exhibiting his versatility regarding various tasks and procedures, according to SLAA President Jeff Barber.

“Our body shop is renowned for its high-quality workmanship,” Barber said. “John is very valuable in that he can repair and refinish any project that comes along. Our shop is comprised of a very responsible, mature group of technicians, and John has been a big part of our success. It is always a pleasure to walk through the Body Shop and admire their expertise.”

“For instance, John was part of the crew that created our award-winning Pedal Truck in 2014. His handiwork has also been featured in our annual State Line calendar.”

“Our family is very grateful for the many dedicated employees that we have at State Line.”

A ceremony took place before the sale on July 2, where Williams received his 20-year solid brass ship’s clock. This is a tradition for each employee reaching this important milestone at SLAA.

Brooklyn dealer Shmuel Gali was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment for his role in a long-running odometer tampering and money-laundering scheme and ordered to pay $3,936,000 in restitution. The defendant pleaded guilty in August 2020 to conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit odometer tampering, making false odometer statements and securities fraud.

“The sentence sends a warning that this office will prosecute those who engage in odometer tampering and deliberately dupe consumers into unknowingly paying inflated prices for their motor vehicles,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis. “With the defendant being sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution to his victims, he is being held to account for his greed in contriving this fraudulent scheme.”

Between 2006 and June 2011, Gali, while conspiring with his brother Chaim, defrauded buyers of used motor vehicles by misrepresenting the mileage of approximately 690 vehicles that they sold. They used fictitious dealer names to purchase high mileage, used motor vehicles from a national vehicle leasing company, altered the odometers of the vehicles to reflect false, lower mileages, and then sold the vehicles at wholesale automobile auctions. On average, the odometers on the vehicles were rolled back by close to 70,000 miles. Consumers who purchased the vehicles at dealerships did not know the true mileage and paid inflated sales prices. 

Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a Washington D.C. lawyer, has joined Copart's Board of Directors.

LeBon, 55, currently serves as a partner with the law firm of Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig, where she is a member of the firm's corporate and government contracts practice. Prior to joining the firm, LeBon served for 10 years as president and chief executive officer of KLAR Strategies, a business strategy firm she founded. In addition to her legal and business expertise, LeBon served during the George W. Bush Administration as an assistant administrator for intergovernmental affairs, as deputy chief of staff, and as deputy director of field operations for the Small Business Administration.

Longtime executive Dave Bates has been named to the new role of vice president, Customer Relations and Chief Customer Ambassador for Reynolds and Reynolds. 

“While we have always been a customer-focused organization, this new role formalizes that commitment by providing a direct conduit between Reynolds and our customers,” CEO Tommy Barras said. 

Barras went on to explain the move will establish a more reliable, consistent way to better understand the challenges that Reynolds customers face coming out of the pandemic, and the products and services that will best help them meet those challenges, while also delivering improved operations and profitability for them.

Bates has held roles helping dealerships throughout his 38-year career at Reynolds and has decades of direct contact and personal interaction with customers. He was named vice president for Customer Support in 2007.

“Dave’s knowledge of our business and the customer relationships he’s developed over the years put him in a trusted position to listen to customers and to help us strengthen our partnerships across the board,” Barras said.

Caliber, parent company to Caliber Collision, Caliber Auto Glass, and Caliber Auto Care, announced that Roland Smith has joined its Board of Directors.

Smith is a board member and executive, bringing over 30 years of experience in consumer brands spanning the hospitality, entertainment, supermarket, and office product industries. Smith currently serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Jack’s Family Restaurants and previously served as chairman of the board of several other companies. As a member of Caliber’s Board, Smith will provide strategic guidance to support Caliber’s operations, teammates, partners and customers.

“I am delighted to welcome Roland to the Caliber board and family,” said Steve H. Grimshaw, Caliber executive chairman. “Roland is a purpose-driven leader, which fits well with Caliber’s culture and long-standing purpose of ‘Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life.’ His track record of results, combined with his broad experience, will greatly benefit Caliber.”

May 1st is the 15th annual International Female Ride Day. As a returning partner, Polaris Slingshot announced its ‘Women Behind the Wheel’ initiative, an experiential program designed to create an inviting space for like-minded women who share the same passion and enthusiasm for driving.

Kicking off in Houston, Slingshot’s Women Behind the Wheel initiative will welcome women and aspiring riders to a full day of driving. The one-day event will focus on bringing women together and get them out on the road behind the wheel of a Slingshot. Guests will have the opportunity to demo the 2021 Slingshot lineup, ask questions during product walkarounds, and meet female Slingshot owners. Following Houston’s Ride Day event on May 1st, Slingshot’s Women Behind the Wheel program will activate once per quarter in different cities around the country.

“We proudly celebrate the female riding community. As more and more women are turning to powersports as a recreational hobby, we want to empower those aspiring riders and welcome them,” said Collett Mazula, senior marketing manager for Polaris Slingshot.

The National Museum of Military Vehicles announced that it will hold a public ceremony May 15 to honor the veterans who participated in the Mayaguez rescue on the 46th anniversary of the Vietnam War battle.

During the ceremony, a Mayaguez Tribute Truck escorted by Patriot Guards Riders will be donated to the museum. Once the Tribute Truck reaches the museum, the names of the 41 Americans who fell during the battle will be read and honored with TAPS, followed by a reunion of surviving Mayaguez veterans.

“The Mayaguez rescue performed on May 15, 1975 was the last battle of the Vietnam War,” said Doug Cubbison, Curator of NMMV. “The names of the 41 Americans who perished in this battle are the last 41 names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The 46th anniversary of the battle is a fitting occasion for the museum to publicly remember and honor both the fallen and the survivors of this battle.”

“Terry Brooks, a veteran of the Mayaguez rescue, created a Tribute Truck to ensure that the sacrifice of those who fell during this battle is always remembered,” said Alynne Catron, Executive Director of NMMV. “Terry is donating the Tribute Truck to our museum to preserve and share in perpetuity with the public.”

The Mayaguez incident: On May 12, 1975, a U.S. flagged cargo ship, the S.S. Mayaguez and its crew were seized by a Cambodian Khmer Rouge naval vessel. President Gerald Ford ordered military action to force the Cambodians to return the ship and release its crew. This rescue mission by the Marines, Navy, and Air Force took place on May 15, 1975. During the ensuing combat, 25 Air Force pilots and crew, two Navy Corpsmen, and fourteen Marines were killed in action while another fifty Americans were wounded. The Khmer Rouge released the Mayaguez and its crew unharmed.

The ceremony commemorating the Mayaguez rescue will begin at 10 a.m., May 15 in Dubois, Wyo.

Automotive Finance Corporation (AFC) has promoted Will Mitchell to chief operating officer. In this position, Mitchell will oversee AFC field and business operations with a continued focus on business development and commercial operations.

“Mitchell is an incredibly strategic thinker and vision-driven leader with a proven track record of success,” said Jim Money, president of AFC. “In his expanded role, Mitchell is responsible for leading AFC’s operations strategy and execution to ensure we are positioned to continue serving our customers in their preferred manner, either in person or digitally.”

As chief operating officer, Mitchell will draw on his deep understanding of the needs of the independent dealer to ensure AFC continues to provide industry leading, customer-first services and solutions. He will also continue to lead AFC’s product development and market partnership efforts with a focus on forging and strengthening strategic partnerships.

“I’m thrilled to extend my focus to empowering our team with valuable tools and resources that provide timely service and convenient solutions for AFC’s customers,” Mitchell said. “AFC has been a leader in the automotive financing industry for over 30 years and I look forward to building upon that legacy.”

Mitchell joined AFC in 2015 as director of strategic initiatives. In 2018, he was promoted to vice president of business development and commercial operations. In that role, Mitchell was instrumental in the launch of several new AFC products, including Daily Tab and Rebuilder, as well as aiding in the company’s continued digital evolution. Prior to his time with AFC, Mitchell worked for various companies in business development roles specializing in strategic initiatives.

John Brasher will join the executive leadership team at EBlock as the chief operating officer, focused on the company’s rapid expansion into the U.S. market.

John Brasher Joins EBlock as COO

Brasher brings more than 30 years of automotive auction knowledge and experience to the senior leadership team. He joins EBlock from ServNet, where he held the position of executive director. Prior to that, he was president of Brasher’s West Coast Auto Auctions from 2001 to 2016. He worked for two years as a general manager for ADESA, and was a founding partner of AuctionPipeline in 2005, which is now Auction Edge.

“The transformation to digital in the auction space is happening now and it’s happening quickly,” Brasher said. “The automotive wholesale business needs a partner that is committed to meeting their customers where they are. I believe EBlock is that partner, and I’m excited to be part of this exciting chapter in our industry.”

“We are excited to have an industry icon like John join EBlock,” said Jason McClenahan, president and CEO of EBlock. “EBlock is seeing tremendous growth, both in Canada and the United States. His experience and passion for the industry, will only accelerate that momentum. I look forward to working closely with John as we shape the digital auction landscape, to the evolving needs of our customers.

Brasher, a third-generation automotive entrepreneur, has served on numerous industry boards and association committees, and has played an active role whenever possible in the remarketing industry. He steps into his new role as COO of EBlock on May 3.