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15th Anniversary!
LHS Lincoln High School
Lincoln, NE  USA
Thursday October 18, 2018
1952
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Today's Featured Biography

 

Richard Wells


    To properly present a biographical sketch of Dick Wells we have to start back in the late 1950s when he was a counterman at a local (Lincoln, Nebraska) parts store called "Hank's." Then he went to work for a true speed shop and hot rod emporium, Speedway Motors, also in Lincoln, operated by Bill Smith. But the lure of California and the hope of opportunity in the hot rod industry led Dick to Los Angeles in 1960, where he wanted to work for one of the speed equipment suppliers.
    He didn't make it to a manufacturing facility for an interview. Instead he visited the offices of the National Hot Rod Association for the first time. While there he was asked what he intended to do for a job. He answered according to his plan: Go to work for a speed equipment company. Jack Clark, then the general manager of NHRA, suggested Dick go to work for NHRA and start a new publication they had planned, to be called National Dragster. In response to which Dick said, "I don't know anything about publishing." And Jack said, "Don't worry. You can learn it." And he did.
    From National Dragster Dick moved to Hot Rod magazine as managing editor. In time, he moved up to feature editor. While at Petersen Publishing Company he also worked on the staff of Motor Trend as executive editor, and moved another notch up the Petersen corporate ladder to take over the Special Events Division. In that capacity, Wells produced many hot rod shows, the Petersen Motoramas, and in 1967, his department in the publishing company produced the first SEMA Show; a total of 98 booths were sold. The show was eventually moved to Las Vegas where it now spans more than 1.5 million square feet of space, the largest of its kind in the world.
    Under his direction as president, the National Street Rod Association developed and produced the Street Rod Nationals, undeniably the nation's largest automotive participant events, and he started a new members-only publication, StreetScene. During his time at NSRA, the Street Rod Nationals attracted nearly 10,000 pre-1949 hot rods to participate in the weekend affair. That's right: 10,000 hot rods all in one place.
    During his tenure at NSRA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association was growing and Dick was asked to leave NSRA to take over SEMA. He did, serving as executive director for several years, again applying efforts to grow the SEMA Show. But the National Hot Rod Association came calling again and he left SEMA to serve on the staff of NHRA, also growing in scope and number of racing events.
    From NHRA Dick started his own company, Dick Wells & Associates, which lasted until SEMA contacted him to rejoin the company to manage the Auto International Association. Under his guidance the AIA grew to become a force in the import parts segment of the automotive aftermarket, and despite the added responsibility, Dick took over the communications department of SEMA as well. While at SEMA, he was asked by his mentor, Wally Parks, to serve on the NHRA Board of Directors, a position he has held since 1979.
    "What a lot of people don't know is all the work this guy has done in and for the sport of hot rodding—street rods and drag racing and everything connected to it, the industries included. He has a shelf in his office filled with plaques and awards to commemorate his many achievements, including his place in the SEMA Industry Hall of Fame. I'm proud that Dick has remained a close friend of mine over the years. It is an honor to be counted among his associates."
                                —Jack Stewart
                         Member, LA Roadsters Club


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Today's Featured Class Member Website

Richard Anderson

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