SEMA Trophy restoration

Following the BDRHoF display of the SEMA trophy at Dragstalgia, British drag racing fan Kev Roberts got in touch with a further insight into its restoration; a project Kev was involved with following its discovery in a back room of the Brighton & Hove Motor Club’s headquarters.

Kev was initially involved in the restoration of the Allard Dragster carried out by the National Motor Museum and the Allard Chrysler Action Group led by the late Brian Taylor, he recalls, “Whilst helping the dragster project at Beaulieu, I was given permission to refurbish the SEMA Trophy along with the trophies original 1963 packing case. The trophy had not seen daylight for decades and was in a poor state. So at my own expense I did a 220-mile round trip to collect it and spent many hours during the winter of 2013/14 refurbishing it.”

As you can see from Kev’s pictures various parts had been damaged, broken off or were missing completely. “Having stripped the trophy, I viewed any pictures I could find, which weren’t many. I cleaned and re-varnished the wood and adapted parts – like the missing and broken off racing car wheel. All of the brass plaques were also re-polished and screwed back in place. I even learnt the fine art of applying gold leaf,” Kev added.

Kev was also asked to do something with the original packing case so that Beaulieu could recognise which box went with which trophy as they have many in their collection. “I added the SEMA 1963 licence plate as an I.D. which Beaulieu had requested at the last minute, before its return to the museum. I had to think quickly hence my scribbles using good old Airfix model paints and spare Mooneyes stickers as an added extra.”

In fact everyone who viewed the BDRHoF display of the trophy at Dragstalgia thought that the packing case markings were original from when it was shipped from the States in 1963, now we know differently!

Alan Allard presented it on behalf of ACAG and the Brighton & Hove Motor Club to the Chief Engineer and Museum Manager at Beaulieu, Doug Hill and it was placed next to the newly restored Allard Dragster. Later the trophy was on display again when BDRHoF member ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits came to see the restored Allard in 2014.

Seeing the before and after pictures here, Kev has clearly done a remarkable job on this historic trophy’s restoration, equal to the items on the BBC’s ‘Repair Shop’ programme. 

If you missed our initial story ‘SEMA Challenge Trophy On Tour’, which was first published here on 24th August, you can still view it by clicking HERE or by scrolling through HoFTalk’s many other stories and features.

The BDRHoF proudly displayed the trophy in celebration of its 60th anniversary year (1963 – 2023) and would like to thank John Hunt of the British Drag Racing Historians group, who kindly made the initial contact with Beaulieu and to Kev Roberts for this insight into its restoration.

Jerry Cookson
HoFTalk Editor