The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA 2014) kicked off its annual show November 3rd through the 6th, For four days, the Las Vegas Convention Center’s million acres is turned into an automobile lover’s paradise.
With over 100,000 visitors on Friday alone, the attendance at this year’s economically vital event catapulted Las Vegas’ total annual visitorship to over 40 million, a record which was established in 2009.
Like most trade shows, SEMA is a platform for rolling out new ideas and innovations. However, this trade show has an intensity and energy unrivaled in the industry. Because of the high level of interest in many of the specialty vehicles, such as the 918 Porsche, a lightweight version of an already “…hyper-hybrid or super-hybrid” technology which mixes the output of a conventional fuel engine with a powerful electric engine, “…allows the larger motor companies such as Porsche as well as Ford and Chevy to invest their time and money in bringing these innovations out at this expo,” according to Jorge Martinez, Marketing Specialist with HRE Performance Wheels.
As Steve Darnell, Inventor and Star of Discovery Channel’s Desert Rat Rods put it, SEMA is the “…ultimate marriage of man and machine. This is where the automobile industry takes shape and this is the place to be…” and then he threw in with a wink, “…unless you’re not into chicks or cars.”
That being said, it is quite clear what the objective for most vendors at SEMA is, to bring the automobile market to the public for product recognition and to promote business. There is another class of attendee that personifies the grit and passion for the automobile industry like the crew who brings us Discovery Channel’s show Farm Truck and their spirit of giving which makes Las Vegas such a popular tourist attraction.
I first saw these guys last year during the SEMA Cruise, when many of the attendees drive their vehicles in a sort of last hurrah on the way out of the event grounds and the ugliest old Chevy that reminded me of the baby-blue C-10 my grandpa used only for taking yard debris to the land fill, came barreling down the parade procession.
“Jeez, how’d those guys break in?” Asked the camera man next to me and just like I was to learn that the old truck had “…more than meets the eye under the hood,” this group of fun loving guys are into something more than money.
It wasn’t until this year, while we were wandering the many miles of product that we heard a buzz going around about a reality show which was bringing its film crew to do complimentary autographs for their fans. They even did a special “screening” for a woman whose friend was sick and couldn’t make this year’s show.
I asked AZN (pronounced Asian), star and driver of the show, what makes SEMA so important to him and he said, “It’s for the Die-Hard fans and makes it possible for us to have some empathy and get outside of ourselves.” Altruistic words from a self-professed “red neck”.
“We can’t do it for everybody, because we don’t have enough time but we do it to thank the people for what they’ve given us.” He added, “This is what we do. We’re blue-collar guys and the show (Farm Truck) is a great documentary on our real lives.”
When asked why Vegas is such a great location for SEMA and not some other city, AZN replied, “Vegas is the only place that can contain this as far as real estate goes and when we shut the doors at SEMA, the people need something to do.”
We look forward to covering the next SEMA Show, which will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, November 3rd through the 6th, 2015.