Thursday, November 30, 2006

2006 SEMA Show - By Mark C Bach

Well folks it was another successful year at SEMA’s – the Specialty Equipment Market Association – show held recently in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the show you’ll hear about in magazines in three of four months, where manufacturers bring out their new products and services and show off their equipment in spectacular cars. Over 6,800 companies have joined SEMA and at times it seems like every vendor was there at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

This event has grown from the first year they held a small show in Dodge Stadium in 1967. This year over a million square feet was utilized for displays (every available square inch of space at the three interconnected buildings), plus they used large tents and outdoor displays to show their items off. To see every display you’ll need some endurance and walking shoes, as you cover over 18 miles to see all the aisles of carburetors, tires, rims and accessories. If you can’t find it at SEMA, they don’t make it!

A highlight of the show is walking through their showcase of new products. Over 1500 items are submitted for review. Sometimes these are just minor alterations to fit a different engine or car and other times they are whole new, patented items. SEMA each year awards many of these items awards for their usefulness and inventiveness. Both Craftsman and Gear Wrench were showing off combination wrenches that are twisted 90 degrees on the handle, thus allowing users to have the handle fit into the palm of their hand better. Gear Wrench even had devices set up to see how much more torque and force you gained with this design.

For some it is the chance to have a conversation face to face with the managers and tech advisors for the company. Others are scouting the aisles looking for new products or companies that can augment their existing line of products. And for many it is a chance to eye ball some beauties – both the gorgeous models and the sensational cars. Over 2,000 cars are on display here at the show, from new offerings from the manufacturers and maybe even a concept car or two, to some historical vehicles and some current models customized with a bazillion monitors and mega watt sound systems. SEMA estimates that if all the cars were lined up bumper to bumper the line would stretch 5 ½ miles ! Son, that’s a lot of cars!!

As far as new cars, the most talked about had to be GM’s first suggestion of what the Camaro will look like, while Dodge showed the Challenger. For my money, Dodge nailed it right on and truly has emulated the old style. Good luck General, your work is cut out for you. GM also featured a 69 Camaro owned by Reggie Jackson with a new GM LSX engine. Jay Leno was not to be outdone with an “EcoJet” turbine powered car that produces 650 horses when powered up to 70% turbine speed. Chip Foose took time from his Overhaulin’ duties to bring out a lime green creation he named “Hemisfear”. If you were into celebrities from racing, they were all there from pioneers to rising starts. John Force hosted a NHRA breakfast that brought out legions of fans and lots of belly laughs.

Now for some bad news – this show is not open to the public. This is a trade show meaning that only those folks in the business can come and play! SEMA made a point this year of warning folks that they were cracking down on their credentials and making sure that voyeurs weren’t part of the 100,000 folks parading through the halls this year. But perhaps you can find a friendly shop will to sponsor you for the 2007 that will be held in Las Vegas from October 30 – November 2, 2007. For more info check out . If you pre-register the show costs only $15 while walk up attendees wait in long lines and pay $50.

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