One of the biggest misconceptions is that the SEMA Show is a huge car show. In reality, it’s actually a trade-only event that was conceived to help promote the leading automotive aftermarket manufacturers to the world’s top buyers. Put on by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the show helps display the newest and most innovative products.
Starting back in 1967, the SEMA Show was it was initially held in the basement of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles before it would grow into a global phenomenon. Since then, it has moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center, which now has 1.2-million net square feet of exhibit space and an additional 1-million square feet of awesomeness in outside areas and in the Westgate Casino next door. This space contains the 2,400 exhibitors and over 161,000 attendees all trying to see the latest and greatest.
Though it does have to be said that the vibe of the show has changed since the 2020 event was skipped due to overwhelming COVID-19 protocols and logistical difficulties. Some of the bigger names in the industry like Chevrolet and Ford dropped out of the 2022 show making room for others like Toyota and Dodge to step up their efforts. The speculation is that digital marketing has been more lucrative, but we think nothing beats in-person interactions. Despite all of this, there was no shortage of exhibitors at this last event held on November 1-4.
Veterans of the SEMA Show might have noticed a few more open spots compared to pre-pandemic times. However, since then, the floor space has been expanded with the opening of the West Hall. Taking those spaces into account, this year’s show was actually the biggest there has ever been. Out of the five indoor sections of the show, the Central Hall is the most popular as it features the Hot Rod Alley, where products for classic cars and trucks take center stage.
In order to help lure buyers to these booths, exhibiting companies bring in the most attention grabbing and jaw-dropping vehicle builds they can find. The quest to get the best rides starts several months in advance to ensure involvement with the top builders and to work on these pieces on eye-catching vehicles. Because of the high stakes of the event, any vehicle that is featured there gets elevated to an elite status.
While all the business to business (B2B) talks take place indoors, some exciting demos take place in the lots outside. One of those being the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational in the Bronze Lot, where you could see the industries’ best pro-touring vehicles battle it out on an autocross course. One of the most popular spots was the eBay Motors Experience in the Silver Lot as it was the “center of the action.” There you could slide around a skid pad on a ride-along or witness all the tire shredding mayhem (literally, check @stonefab’s IG page) at the Hoonigan Burnyard.
We have to admit, that with all the changes this show has gone through in the past few years, there was still plenty to ogle at. This included numerous trucks that broke the internet with their debuts at the show. And next year, the action is to get even bigger as SEMAFEST will extend further into the weekend after the show. This will be open to the public and you can get all the updates about everything at SEMA.org