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Best of the Best: Recognizing SEMA Standouts with Radium Engineering
BY Mike Maravilla //
December 14, 2022
@mike_futureclassic
Photography: Christian Villagran
@xci_photo
Videography: Mike Maravilla
@mike_futureclassic
  • Pit+Paddock teams up with Radium Engineering to crown two standouts at the 2022 SEMA show — one for show, one for performance, respectively.
  • A diverse panel of industry experts chose winners: Larry Chen, Dai Yoshihara, Aaron Suchy from Radium Engineering, and our own Sam Du.
  • This year’s Best of Show winner is Mike Burroughs with his “244 GTK”, a K24-swapped Ferrari 308 GTB.
  • The Best Performance award went home with Gooichi Motors’ Pistachio, a Zonda M120 V12-swapped FD RX-7.

When thousands of people are vying for every like, comment, or digital eyeball in the same room, it’s admittedly difficult to stand out from the crowd. This predicament is largely what SEMA has evolved into — a proverbial proving ground for attention — but that doesn’t necessarily mean these cars are the most tasteful builds. Enter the Pit+Paddock SEMA Awards with Radium Engineering.

AN AWARD FOR ENTHUSIASTS

In 2021, we came to the show with two objectives in mind: 1.) create a splash for Pit+Paddock’s first exhibition year and 2.) dole out two awards that recognized grassroots enthusiasts’ passion projects built, not with unlimited budgets but with creativity, time, sweat, and maybe a few tears. This year, with the help of Radium Engineering, we built upon that same philosophy with an added twist. Award winners would receive a pair of Pit+Paddock and Radium Engineering spoils — a unique Yeti cooler filled with celebratory brews kicked things off, but it was the co-branded Louis Vuitton wallets with custom artwork by E. that certainly sent things over the top.

While our previous ENEOS Show Car Contest was waged on a digital battleground, the hunt for worthy SEMA award recipients was decidedly more unplugged.

NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK

Okay, let’s be fair — the massive assemblage around each candidate’s car certainly made the hunt a bit easier. Nevertheless, clearing through the herd to carefully examine each build’s nuances was no small effort — not to mention actually crowning both victors in the end. We entrusted some familiar faces to help us sift through our options: Larry Chen, Dai Yoshihara, Aaron Suchy from Radium Engineering, and Sam Du all weighed in to measure each car against their discerning industry lens.

THE RESULTS ARE IN

After much debate over a couple of rounds of delicious sandwiches, we finally had our answers:
Mike Burroughs and his K-swapped Ferrari 308 GTB (named the 244 GTK) were the deserved recipients of the Best Show Car of SEMA 2022, while Gooichi Motors’ mind-blasting 7.3-liter V12-swapped “Pistachio” FD RX-7 took the honors of Best Performance car.

At a passing glance, it may seem like these two cars have nothing in common: two swaps separated by eight cylinders, two iconic platforms from separate eras, and two builders with very different approaches. Mike’s success in mating an otherwise “typical” K24 swap into a Ferrari 308 is really only part of the whole picture — his builds carry with them a certain finesse refined with each attempt — and it’s with this latest creation that we’ve seen his discerning eye for detail reach monumental levels. The radically reworked V12 in the “Pistachio” RX-7 is certainly its party piece, but the car’s success is multi-faceted. Kyza put pen to paper to apply his artistic vision to the FD’s body, and LTO was tasked to bring that vision to reality. The cumulative handiwork — from the engine bay and beyond — is where this car really shines.

But despite their differences, I’d argue that the tie that bonds them is much stronger. It’s undeniable that both cars commit sacrilegious levels of sin amongst purist crowds. But where they’ve ruffled feathers, they’ve also managed to spawn wide-eyed admiration for creativity on a much greater scale. Both builders have had to write their own rulebook — probably a few times over — before achieving what you see here. For that unwavering commitment and immense effect on generations of the automotive community, they’ve earned their place in our spotlight.



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