SEMA_Car Haven and Car Heaven
By Mark C. Bach
The Las Vegas Convention Center hosted the 47th Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show on November 5-8, 2013 and the two million square feet of indoor space was covered with the absolutely greatest classic cars and car products. The show connects over 60,000 buyers with the automobile after-market industry.
Over 130,000 car enthusiasts attended this four day extravaganza and nearly 2,000 cars were there to be appreciated and draw buyers into the booths.
Monday is the unofficial start of the SEMA Show, with educational classes and seminars offered throughout the day while exhibitors frantically hustle to get their booths in order. One of my personal highlights is attending the Chevrolet Media Event that night. There they offer a first look at some of their production and concept cars that will be on the display floor the rest of the week. Celebrities were there to tout their creations including motorcycle champion and NASCAR driver Ricky Carmichael as well as fellow NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, straight from a win at Martinsville. At this show, the Chevy management unveiled the new blue 2014 COPO Camaro designed for the drag strip and in very limited quantity (only 69 will be sold at auctions and in a lottery); along with restoring the Z/28 nameplate for the Camaro with a beast of a car, featuring a LS7 engine with 500 horsepower! Gordon was showcasing a SS model with a gorgeous red satin paint job. From the upcoming “Transformers 4″ movie were the real stars: a Corvette Stingray, a Sonic and a yellow Bumble Bee Camaro!
Tuesday kicks off the show and SEMA uses the morning to announce their new products award winners. This year over 2,200 products were displayed in the new product display area and judges narrowed the entries down to sixteen winners in various categories.
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) hosted their annual breakfast where past announcers reminisced about their careers and the racers they followed. Dave McClelland, Bob Frey and Alan Reinhart were joined by current ESPN sportscaster Dave Rieff to discuss their humorous memories. Then, John Force, who just won his 16th Funny car championship, joined them for more laughs and stories.
Throughout the four days of SEMA, the booths were packed with products, cars and celebrities. If you saw a LONG line it had to be for Chip Foose, the hardest working guy at SEMA. He made daily appearances at his various sponsors and at his trailer selling Foose gear. His gold “Magnatude” was a big draw and garnered lots of praise. John Force and his clan made the rounds as did many other drivers and TV celebrities. Even Las Vegas locals Danny “the Count” Koker and Kevin Mack from History Channel’s reality show Counting Cars were there drawing big crowds of admiring fans.
There are literally thousands of cars to admire, whether in a vendor booth, along a walkway or out front of the convention center on an asphalt lot.
The folks at Mother’s Polish issued their Shine Award for the 13th year to a 1969 Ford Torino Talladega built by Troy Trepanier. This Ford was powered by a 429 Boss engine and mated an Art Morrison chassis to a C5 front end and a rear four link suspension from Detroit Speed and Engineering. It seemed every body panel was either shortened, widened or modded to some degree with over 1,000 hours in the body and paint prep alone.
Two trends that were noticeable were the choice of green for paint jobs and the gasser look was growing. Everywhere you looked there was bound to be a green car. And, plenty of Moon Eye gas tanks were bolted to front bumpers for the “gasser” look.
While the SEMA Show is running, across town at the Sands Convention Center, the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) show is concurrently running. This show is focused towards the mechanics and small shop owners but still many of the same companies will display their wares at both shows. But there are significantly less cars on display at this event. Together, the two shows combine to form the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas the second largest convention held there. Unfortunately, the two shows are trade shows and the general public cannot attend these shows that are always held on the first week of November.
But there are two ways to still get a chance to see some of the cars at the SEMA Show. Check out the next issue for our follow up story on SEMA and the cars.
Note: We will continue a future submission displaying more on SEMA from Mark C. Bach in a follow-up issue as Part II. Stay tuned!