3rd-Annual Bob Smith Memorial Transmission Seminar

Tuning into the 6-Speed: A Free, Exclusive Educational Seminar for New England Transmission Customers
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Whatever It Takes, in collaboration with New England Transmission Parts and SunCoast Performance, is excited to offer our third-annual Bob Smith Memorial Seminar, Tuning into the 6-Speed: A Free, Exclusive Educational Seminar for New England Transmission Customers. This FREE private training event will be held on October 7, 2023, from 8-5pm at the Newport Car Museum in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. This year’s seminar will focus on tuning, with three classes in the morning and an HP Tuners Tuning Class following lunch.

About the Seminar

Learn from the brightest minds in the transmission industry! Network with the greatest transmission and torque converter builders in the world! Prepare your brain for the latest technology and innovations! GROW. YOUR. BUSINESS.

This is an exclusive seminar focusing on what it takes to build a successful unit for both gas and diesel platforms. We will be reviewing data logs and current failures, along with measures for improving the 6-speed current failures and fixes to the 10-speed units coming in your near future. 

This October, New England Transmission Parts is offering classes geared toward providing insight into industry-leading research and development, along with numerous guest speakers from the automotive world bringing their knowledge to the table.

These courses allow participants the opportunity to learn everything from theory and function to design and principles of GM 6-Speed transmissions and torque converters. This highly-coveted seminar will arm you with all the knowledge you need to go back to your shop and help your business thrive!

By attending, you have the chance to win more than $5,000 in prizes, including $500 cash, multiple gift certificates, and one-of-a-kind signed sports memorabilia.

Learn from the following exciting keynote speakers in our classroom setting:

  • Breakfast of Champions | Continental Breakfast
  • Gregg Nader of Sonnax Industries | 6L80s from Diagnosis to Repair: Insights from Sonnax's High-Performance Project Manager
  • Chris Horbach of BorgWarner | Frictions 101: A Look Inside Science and Development of Friction Materials
  • Blake Carter of SunCoast Performance | Deep Dive: Evolution of Software Controls
  • Lunch with the Minds | Catered Lunch with the Speakers
  • HP Tuners Class | Presented by Whatever It Takes


Featured Keynote Speakers:



Gregg Nader - Sonnax High-Performance Product Line Manager

Gregg Nader is the current High-Performance Product Line Manager at Sonnax Industries. 

Gregg has always been somewhat of an automotive enthusiast. His path in this field began like most of us during his teenage years. As a self-professed DIY guy, he began his journey at the tender age of 13, replacing the blown engine on his dirt bike. It was here he found his calling, and with that, he began making his hobby a career.

It was just a few years later that Gregg's automotive prowess would land him his first job at AAMCO in 1981 in his hometown in Illinois. It was here he made some of his fondest memories from seeing his first 700R4 failure to working on Triumphs and Winnebagos. It was here Gregg cut his teeth and felt firsthand the problematic issues with repeat failures coming through his doors. You might say this is where his yearning to make something better started the fire that would begin his career in product development.

In 2000, Gregg began his career with Sonnax in the research and development division of their Illinois branch, where his desire for solving issues could be satiated finally. It was not long before Gregg's enthusiasm for High-Performance vehicles landed him his current position as Sonnax's High-Performance Product Line Manager. Gregg has developed parts for the 4L60E, 4L80E, 68RFE, Powerglide, TH400, and 6L80E that deliver rock-solid performance in high-power enthusiast and racing vehicles.

As a self-professed DIY'er Gregg admits you will find only three types of pictures on his phone: transmission parts, food he most likely cooked, or a plethora of home projects he has completed or is in the process of finishing. Gregg will tell you his second passion is cooking, which he developed as a child in the kitchen with his mother learning the coveted family secrets of the perfect marinara. This just isn't any gravy he's making either; those San Marzano tomatoes are freshly picked from his garden and simmered to perfection! 

Gregg also enjoys a fine tequila and admits that any friend of the agave is in fact a friend of his.

Gregg will be discussing specifically the 6L80E from diagnosis to repair, bringing insights from the developer himself. 



Chris Horbach - BorgWarner Product Engineer 

BorgWarner Product Engineer and TCRA (Torque Converter Rebuilder's Association) Executive Director, Chris Horbach, knew that he wanted to be in the Auto Industry from the time he could play with hot wheels.

After earning a Bachelor's Degree from Indiana State University in Industrial Automotive Technology in 1995, he began a career in the Friction Plate Industry, where his responsibilities ranged from supporting quality and manufacturing to creating and launching new parts for multiple product lines.

Chris also co-owned and operated Shift FX Transmissions in Crawfordsville, IN. Meanwhile, he was also serving on the TCRA Board, and held the office of Secretary, until 2013 brought some changes: when he resigned from his position on the TCRA Board and accepted the position of Executive Director for the Association. His responsibilities include managing the day-to-day functions of the Association and organizing the annual TCRA Seminar.

Not only did his role with TCRA change in 2013, but Chris also accepted a Product Engineering position with BorgWarner Transmission Systems in Bellwood, IL; where his responsibilities are OE 10-speed friction plate development and launch support for North American and Asian customers, maintaining existing business, training new hires, and drawing on his experience in both the field and at an OE level to lend support to the BorgWarner aftermarket team and their customers.

After work, you can find Chris shooting targets, staying fit in the gym, beating his buddies at pool, nerding out over U.S. History, and go-karting with his family. On Sundays, you can find Chris on the Safety and Security Team at his church, where he also serves on the Financial Leadership Team. Chris has been happily married for 23 years and has two children.


Blake Carter - President of Sales and Marketing at SunCoast Performance

Blake Carter is currently the President of Sales and Marketing at SunCoast Performance where he has been employed since 2015. 

Blake has been in the automotive industry for 29 years, starting his career in the automotive industry with the original equipment side working as a technician while attending college. 

After college, Blake transitioned into the administrative division with General Motors, serving as a Service Manager and Fixed Operations Director. It was here Blake discovered his fascination with software calibration and its relationship with vehicle performance as he watched the first and second generations of electronic torque management develop with vehicle manufacturers. During this time, Blake helped develop and market the GM Performance Parts division throughout the Southeast Division. It was during this time Blake developed his skills as a software calibrator, writing calibrations for aftermarket modifications done to both the engine and transmission. 

In 2009, Blake followed his childhood dream and went to work for Performance Automotive and Transmission Center as an Engine Calibrator and Operations Director. Performance Automotive served as a full-service racing shop that also manufactured torque converters and transmission components. During this time, Blake was able to develop his skills in software calibration with the new  LS2 and T43 6L80E platforms. He worked with other industry leaders developing and testing the first stand-alone 6L80E controller. This was also the first successful 6L80E stand-alone controller in a COPO Camaro using GM LAN versus typical J1939 aftermarket communication. Blake was also responsible for the growth and development of the company's thriving racing platform.

In 2015, Blake had the opportunity to come to Fort Walton Beach to work for SunCoast Converters as President of Sales and Marketing. At SunCoast, Blake has witnessed the deficiencies within the aftermarket community with education in regard to high-performance rebuilds. At SunCoast, Blake has worked to develop the SunCoast BI-Annual Research Laboratory with a focus on software controls and its effects on the potential enhancements or premature degradation of the Lepelletier Ravigneaux 6, 8, and 10-speed units.

Blake is the father of three boys and has been married to his college sweetheart Jennifer for 28 years. 

HP Tuners

Whatever It Takes will be hosting this free HP Tuners GM Transmission Tuning class with a strong focus on the 6L80E platform and all the problems surrounding these units. This free HP Tuners class will cover problems from converter shudder corrections, to improving shift quality.

At this seminar, there will be HP Tuners MPVI3 tuning devices available for sale, as well HP Tuners GM Transmission Tuning guides for $155.00. If you are looking for insights and help diagnosing some of the most common issues with these units this is the seminar to be at.

For more information, please contact New England Transmission Parts at (401) 310-6387.

In Loving Memory

Our third-annual transmission seminar is held in memory of Robert “Bob” Smith, who loved everything about cars and was dedicated to educating and giving back to the industry he was so passionate to be part of.

Bob grew up in East Providence, RI, and was a 1967 graduate of East Providence High School. He was a truck driver for the Teamsters Local 251 for many years before he retired. He was also an Army veteran of the Vietnam War. Drafted by the Army on his birthday in November of 1967, he was deployed to Vietnam, ranked Private First Class with the 1st Battalion, 5th Artillery, Delta Company. During his time in Vietnam, he was awarded the Army commendation medal with “V” device for heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force.

Bob was involved in many community organizations and activities. He was Cub master for the Cub Scouts Pack 1 Nayatt, Barrington from 1982 to 1992, a member of the Barrington VFW where he served as Secretary from 1982 to 2012, member of the United Veterans Council where he served as the Adjutant Secretary from 1982 to 2012, and a member of the organization committee for the Barrington Memorial Day Parade where he was Honorary Marshall in 2013. Bob had a passion for music from the 50s and 60s, was an avid fan of sports and racing, and had a great appreciation for old cars. Prior to his illness, he spent time traveling with his wife and most of all he enjoyed spending time with family and friends, sharing stories and playing cards. His infectious smile, humor, and gentle nature were a social magnet for many of whom he met over the years, resulting in long-lasting friendships. Bob was loved by many and will always be remembered for just being an absolutely great guy who always put others before himself.

Following a hard-fought battle with ALS, Bob Smith passed in November 2021. This seminar is merely a small way to honor his legacy. 


For your viewing pleasure, enjoy this recap of 2021's seminar:



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