What is the SEMA Show?:
SEMA is short for Specialty Equipment Market Association, and its annual Las Vegas show encompasses 2-million square feet of exhibit space. If a product is geared to auto restoration, accessories, customization, car care or motorsports it's likely to be on display at SEMA.
Auto manufacturers show off their concept and custom vehicles at SEMA -- autos they've designed themselves and autos other companies have customized. Sometimes manufacturers introduce production vehicles at SEMA, like the Sport Trac Adrenalin that Ford presented in 2007. Accessory and parts companies bring their own vehicles for display, too.
Marine and RV products are another focus at the SEMA show.
When Does the SEMA Show Take Place?:
The annual SEMA Show takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the first week of November. Since it always begins on a Tuesday, early days of the show are often in October.
Can I Attend the SEMA Show?:
The SEMA show isn't open to the public. You can register for access if you represent an auto, marine or RV-related manufacturer or retailer, are a buyer, an industry analyst, a member of the media or are associated with the industry in some other way.
The first SEMA show was held in 1967, with 98 booths and 3,000 attendees. By 2011, SEMA housed drew 60,000 buyers, a decrease from the 100,000 who attended in 2007.
Even though the public cannot attend, press attendance is high, and that means you'll see news from SEMA beginning before the show starts, and increasing as the show progresses.
Outdoor Events at the SEMA Show:
Outdoor events take place at SEMA's proving ground. In 2006 I had the opportunity to drive an FJ Cruiser on the off-road track. In 2007, Lexus and Toyota vehicles were available for hands-on off-road driving. In 2012, Ford's 4-day race event gives people a chance to watch the pros drive and step in for a ride around the track.
The SEMA Show is massive, and there's no way attendees can see everything that's on display, let alone have time to dig into the details about every item. I typically take a walk-through to get an overall picture of what's there before heading back to focus on the things that will be of most interest to the Trucks Community.
One thing that's universal at SEMA, everyone I've met has been truly helpful about describing their products, without a lot of media spin, and even the celebrity guests are genuine, down-to-earth people.