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AutoJudge awards presented at 2014 SEMA Show

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2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray

AutoJudge Awards for Automobiles, SUVs, and Pickups celebrate their eighth anniversary at this year’s SEMA show. The award began as an alternative to the multitude of automotive awards distributed at various car shows and other events. The award is originally open for independent voting by the auto-buying public and was first conceived for the readership of newspapers, periodicals, and websites. As the Internet has proliferated and blogging has become popular, the award was opened to any and all “readers” several years ago.

Due to the sheer number of vehicles available, a knowledgeable panel of judges pre-selects a narrow group of vehicles for consumers to vote on in each category. In addition, because of their recognized expertise in the automotive industry, the judges have a weighted vote in the final tally and choose the final selections.

The categories have generally been similar each year, although automotive categories vary as newly designed products are introduced. Public Relations personnel create new “categories” to classify their newest models so as to be the “best” or “most” in that category. The judges are very experienced journalists, specializing in the automotive industry. Most of them own or collect older model cars as well as test driving many new vehicles each month. They attend auto shows throughout America and the world as well as visiting “ride-and-drive” launch programs where the newest models are unveiled. Several are long-time and highly experienced mechanics meaning they have knowledge of the vehicles from more than a cosmetic viewpoint. Bottom line — they “know” cars. Unlike the populace at large, they have opinions based on driving most, and probably all, of the vehicles under consideration.

The 2014 Judges panel for AutoJudge included: Rita Cook, John Vincent, Art Gould, Greg Morrison, Alan Gell, Marlon Hanson, Mike Herzing, Jim Jackson, Sue Mead, Jim Meachen, Bob Kocher, Holly Reich, Harold Gunn, Kimatni Rawlins, BJ Killeen, and Steve Wheeler.

The Texas Auto Media group is pleased to be an active member of SEMA and acknowledge their cooperation in the presentation of these awards each year. Bumper-to-Bumper and the Texas Automotive Media Association have sponsored the AutoJudge awards for several years. In 2014, Marlon Hanson, representing Bumper-to-Bumper, and Alan Gell, representing the Texas Automotive Media, presented the 2014-2015 awards at a scheduled press conference during the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas.

Additional sponsors are welcome. Two special newspaper editions are printed and distributed throughout the SEMA show each year. One is dedicated to the many exciting exhibits at SEMA itself and the other is dedicated to the winners of the AutoJudge Awards. Those interested in advertising or sponsoring awards in future years may contact TAMA at 972-223-9175 for additional information

The 2014 Winners are:

COMPACT SEDAN – 2015 Volkswagen Jetta

FULL SIZE PICKUP – 2015 Ford F-150

PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE – 2015 Cadillac ELR

VAN – MINIVAN – 2014 Chrysler Town & Country

MID-SIZE SEDAN – 2015 Chrysler 200

SPORTS CAR – 2015 Chevrolet Corvette

LUXURY CAR – 2015 Kia K900

FULL SIZE SEDAN – 2015 Hyundai Genesis

WAGON – 2015 Subaru Outback

COUPE – 2014 Cadillac CTS Coupe

MID-SIZE PICKUP – 2015 GMC Canyon

HYBRID (non plug-in) – 2015 Ford Fusion

MIDSIZE SUV/CROSSOVER – 2014 Dodge Durango

FULL SIZE SUV – 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

PERFORMANCE CAR – 2015 Dodge Challenger

2014 AUTOJUDGE AWARDS – JUDGES PANEL

BOB KOCHER – Automotive Writer
Bob Kocher has written new and old car reviews, motorsports articles, automotive product reviews, and automotive life style stories for over 25 years. Kocher has been published in numerous newspapers in the US and around the world including the New York Daily News, Washington Times, Chicago Daily Herald, and Times Newspapers of Northwest Indiana. He authored a weekly Tribune Media Services syndicated article for sixteen years.
Kocher is a contributor to City Talk, a weekly newspaper in Chicago. He has received Gold and Silver Awards from the International Automotive Media Association.
Bob is a Past-President of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), member of the Washington DC Automotive Press, and member of the Guild of Motoring Writers of London, UK. One of his favorite memberships is with the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society.

JIM MEACHEN – Independent Automotive Professional, Goldsboro, North Carolina
Jim Meachen is editor of Motorway America and former Executive News Editor at Goldsboro News. He is regular contributor for the well-known Car-Data.com website. He was educated at South Dakota State University.
Jim is an active member of the Southeast Auto Writers Association and the Texas Auto Writers Association.

RITA COOK – Travel & Automotive Journalist
Rita Cook is a writer and editor with over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent automotive and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called InsiderMag Radio at KPRO 1570 am.
Rita is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association (TAWA) and has a column “Behind the Wheel” for Washington Times Communities and is the editor-in-chief of Insider Magazine.

JIM JACKSON Automotive Journalist – Chicago area
Jim Jackson is the automotive writer for The Times Media Co. of Northwest Indiana. His auto journalism has received numerous honors recognized by the International Automotive Media Award (IAMA) conference held at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan.
Jackson is one of twenty-five professional auto journalists from North America selected as a juror for the North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Award presented annually to world auto manufacturers. He has also served as president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association based in Chicago.
Jackson travels the nation to bring new car reviews and related stories back to the Chicago region for Shore magazine and The Times Newspapers.

HOLLY REICH – Journalist & Consultant , Greater New York City area
Holly Reich received her education at George Washington University (1976-1979). She has been a writer, blogger, and reporter on several radio stations, reporting on various automotive issues and travel.
She works as a consultant and journalist, operating the website www.HollyWrite.com as a sole proprietor.
Holly is an active member of IMPA.

STEVE WHEELER – Automotive Editor, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Steve Wheeler is an experienced writer and editor, having spent more than thirty years in the newspaper industry. He attended Louisiana State University, majoring in Journalism. He graduated from LSU with a B.A. degree.
Steve was the editor of WHEELS as a full-time staff member of The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, LA for many years. He consistently wins awards for his automotive columns. Steve is a Board Member for the Texas Auto Writers Association.
He and his wife Jan live in Baton Rouge with their twin daughters, Leslie and Jessica.

MIKE HERZING – Automotive Publisher & Editor, Houston
Mike Herzing is the Publisher and Editor at LetsTalkWheels.com. He also contributes to numerous other print newspapers in the Houston area and community papers elsewhere in Texas and has an automotive related radio program each Saturday morning in the Houston area.
Herzing is a certified ASE mechanic and previously owned his own mechanics operation for a long number of years. He is a former President and First VP of the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA.)

ALAN GELL – Automotive Journalist – newspaper, radio, internet
Alan Gell is a regular print contributor to the Daily Oklahoman, Bumper-to-Bumper, Focus Daily News, & other publications. He does regular NEW CAR REVIEWS as a Radio Personality on BlogTalkRadio.com and All Car Radio.com. He is the former long-time editor of the Ellis County Chronicle newspaper in the suburban Dallas area.
Alan publishes automotive columns on the internet as a National Automotive News Examiner on Examiner.com. In addition, he contributes for the Fort Worth Examiner, Oklahoma Cars, Ellis County News, and Elkhart Texas News. He is an active member & former Board Member of the Texas Auto Writers Association and Alpha Kappa Psi (professional business organization.) In addition, he is an active member of SEMA and the Texas Press Association, and is Vice-President of the Texas Auto Media group.
He received his education at the University of Texas, San Antonio College (A.A.), Texas State University (B.B.A.), Ohio Christian College (Th.B.), & Alabama Bible College (Th.D. Hon). Gell served in the military with the U.S.Army, graduated from the US Army Command & General Staff College, and retired as a Lt. Colonel.

ART GOULD – Automotive Journalist – newspaper, radio, internet – California
Art Gould is the co-host of The Car Show, which has aired on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles since 1973. This 112,000 watt radio station is heard from Santa Barbara to San Diego and is the longest continuously running electronic media show on automobiles in the country. The Car Show specializes in industry news, new vehicle reviews, auto racing updates, and interviews with auto industry leaders.
Gould is also the feature editor of Global Auto News and writes for The Rodder’s Journal. He is a member of several professional journalist organizations that include the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles, Western Automotive Journalists in Northern California, Midwest Automotive Media Association, and American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association.
He is also a jurist on the Concept Vehicles of the Year organization. Gould is the Co-Master of Ceremonies at local car shows such as the Coastline Classic Car Show held annually in Southern California.

MARLON HANSON – Journalist & Publisher, newspaper, magazine, internet – Texas
Marlon Hanson has been in the newspaper business since 1970, working with the New York Daily News and the Dallas Times Herald. He currently publishes Focus Daily News in suburban Dallas, Texas as well as the Bumper-to-Bumper automotive supplement seen in numerous newspapers throughout the year. Web sites include focusdailynews.com and testdrivereport.com.
He serves as judge for Consumer’s Digest Best Buy vehicles as well as being a contributing editor and writer for special features such as the Top Ten New Vehicles of the Year and the Top Dozen Concept Cars of the Future each year.
Hanson served as President of the Texas Automotive Writers Association for three terms and is currently the President of the Texas Auto Media Association. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, participating and voting in their Spring Rally, as well as the Texas Automotive Writers Association’s Texas Truck Rodeo and Spring Auto Writers Roundup and Challenge.

SUE MEAD – Freelance Evaluator, test driver, automotive journalist
Sue Mead began her automotive career as a part-time freelance evaluator for Four Wheeler Magazine in 1988. She was placed on the first team that included women as test drivers. Today, she travels the globe test-driving cars and trucks, and working as a photojournalist and feature writer for dozens of publications.
Sue specializes in 4WD, and has been an auto editor and 4WD editor for CNN/fn. Over the last 22 years, she has accumulated enough off-road miles to have circum-navigated the world in the dirt. Mead has been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and won her class as the Driver of Record in the 2011 Dakar Rally.
Sue has written for Four Wheeler, 4Wheel & Off Road, Automobile, AutoWeek, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics. Parade, Women’s Sports & Fitness, Autobytel, AutoTrader and the New York Times. She is also a correspondent for Motor Trend Radio. Mead has written three books: Monster Trucks and Tractors; Off Road Racing, Legends and Adventures; and Rock Crawling. She is recognized as one of the foremost female automotive journalists in America

GREG MORRISON – Radio & television – Atlanta
Greg comes from the broadcast reporting side of the industry. He was a radio reporter in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia and then went into TV. For the past 10 years he has been squarely focused on automotive Journalism. Greg is recognized as an excellent writer and has a very penetrating view of the autos that he evaluates.
Greg Morrison is the CEO of a film and video production firm called Griotworks, Inc. Griotworks is located in the Greater Atlanta Area and specializes in coverage of the automotive industry. In 2011 the company also produced “Feeding Freedom” a documentary on the role of black owned restaurants in the Civil Rights struggle
Greg has served as Executive Producer of Bumper2Bumper television, a long-time member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Assignment Editor of WXIA-TV in Atlanta, a Bureau Coordinator for NBC News, and a Reporter/Producer as Atlanta regional correspondent for Black Entertainment Television News. He attended the University of the District of Columbia and Lincoln University.

JOHN VINCENT – Automotive Journalist – Portland, Oregon
John is an active member and a past-treasurer of the Northwest Automotive Press Association, having been a long-time automotive journalist for Portland’s newspaper, The Oregonian.
While at The Oregonian, John was responsible for the creation of editorial content for the Sunday Homes, Real Estate section, Autos page, Special Sections, Explore the Pearl magazine, and various other publications produced by the newspaper. He worked at the Oregonian as a freelance contractor and staff member from 1982 to 2013.
John is currently serving as volunteer Board Chairman of the Oregonians Credit Union, and is a graduate of Portland State University, School of Business.
BJ KILLEEN – Automotive Journalist – Greater Los Angeles area
BJ is a known as one of the female pioneers in automotive journalism. She is a former Road Test Editor for Road & Track magazine and now freelances for numerous websites. In addition, she co-hosts The Drive, a radio program on ERNlive and is the Road Test Editor for Drivers Talk Radio.
BJ received her degree in English from UCLA and shortly afterwards, joined the staff of Motorcyclist magazine. She is a big racing fan, and is a native of Southern California. She is married to noted photographer Scott Killeen, living in Sherman Oaks, California. She is a past-president of the Motor Press Guild.

KIMATNI RAWLINS – Automotive Journalist – Washington, D.C.
Kimatni D. Rawlins is the founder of Automotive Rhythms Communications, LLC, a lifestyle automotive media and marketing portal. Its purpose is to educate automotive buyers on how they view and purchase new and used vehicles. He is also the host and Executive Producer of Automotive Rhythms TV, which can be viewed on more than thirty online partner websites through www.ARtvLive.com
Kimatni is a guest and interviewee, frequently featured on a variety of TV programs, websites, newspapers, and magazines. This includes the Discovery Channel, Black Entertainment Television, Comcast, WUSA Channel 9 News, Fox, WILA Channel 7 News, Ebony, the Washington Post, Smooth, Michigan Chronicle, Detroit New, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Florida Times, and others.
Kimatni is President Emeritus of the Washington Automotive Press Association.

HAROLD GUNN – Radio, Internet, & Newspapers – Houston
Harold Gunn has been a writer, producer, & participant for thousands of television & radio commercials and programs during a career spanning 50 years. He is currently producer and co-host of the syndicated “The Automotive Reporter” on ESPN Radio in Houston.
He is also the producer and co-host of “Texas Outdoor News”, one of the most honored outdoor radio shows in the U.S. This program also features a weekly automotive “Road Test.”
Harold has been named a “Broadcast Pioneer” by the Texas Association of Broadcasters and in 2009, was inducted into the “Texas Radio Hall of Fame.” He is a Past-President of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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