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A Guide to the SEMA Show

What it's About and Who Attends


A Guide to the SEMA Show

The SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nev.

Photo Courtesy of SEMA
Every Fall I make my way to Las Vegas, Nev. for the annual SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. And every Fall people ask me what it's all about. No doubt, it's a popular question.

For starters, SEMA is short for the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The organization consists of more than 7,358 member companies that operate within the aftermarket automotive community. These are the folks that sell aftermarket product solutions for trucks, motorcycles, even Mustangs.

Fast Facts:

  • 2013 Show Dates: November 5 - November 8, 2013
  • Held each October or November
  • Takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center
  • First Show took place in 1967 in Los Angeles, Calif.
  • More than 125,000 attendees
  • More than 2,000 exhibitors
  • Industry Only: No public admittance
Those performance brakes you put on your Stang or the specialty rear spoiler and front fascia you bought; chances are they were probably manufactured by aftermarket automotive companies. Possibly the same companies that attend the SEMA Show each year. Which brings me to the next popular question. “Why do you go to the SEMA Show and can I go too?”

The Latest Product Debuts and Launches

Well, I go to the SEMA Show to check out all the aftermarket product releases and industry debuts. Each year more than 2,000 exhibitors set up shop to showcase their latest products and services. From performance exhausts to custom lug nuts, you name it, you'd probably find it at the SEMA Show.

Product offerings include:

  • Restyling and Car Care Accessories
  • Hot Rod Products
  • Mobile Electronics & Technology
  • Tires, Wheels, & Related Equipment
  • Racing & Performance Parts
  • Restoration Parts
  • Tools & Equipment
  • Trucks, SUVs, & Off-Road Accessories
  • Business Services
In fact, the show has gotten so popular that even the OE guys such as Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, and Dodge make their way out to the show. In all more than 125,000 people attend the show each year. These people are comprised of manufacturers, industry leaders, analysts, jobbers, retailers, engineers, media, and designers. Many travel great distances to attend the show. For instance, last year's show had folks from Canada, Mexico, and 100 other countries. Unfortunately, the show is not open to the public. Unless you're in the industry, or you cover the industry as a member of the press, you'll have to sit this one out.

Vehicle Showcases

In addition to the product debuts and releases, SEMA showcases some amazing rides. Customizers from around the globe spend countless hours working on show cars which are displayed at SEMA. As such, awards are given out to the most popular head turners at the show.

Industry Seminars

Another side to the show is its educational offerings. More than 60 seminars were scheduled for the 2008 SEMA Show. These classes help those in the industry develop new business strategies, build new skills, and network with other people in similar positions.

Celebrity Appearances

Of course, the best part of the SEMA Show is all the great folks that come out to meet those in attendance. In 2008 Carroll Shelby was scheduled to appear, as was Funkmaster Flex, Bob Bondurant, Chip Foose, John Force, Jack Roush, and many others. In fact, my list of celebrity appearances at the 2008 SEMA Show was almost 20 pages long.

In all, the SEMA Show is hands down the largest show of its kind. You can walk and walk for days without seeing everything there is to see. Like the Grand Canyon, it's truly a thing of amazement. For more information, check out the show's official Web site at www.semashow.com.

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