Las Vegas, Nevada. November 3rd – 6th, 2015. The SEMA Show. More than 60,000 domestic and international attendees converge in this central location with only one thing on their minds: everything automotive.
We all know that SEMA is the largest industry trade show of the year, though many of us have not had the pleasure of attending ourselves – either due to travel, expenses, or the industry that we work in versus the industry that we love. This year, a few of us from the Lowered Lifestyle team were able attend for the first time. Leaving Florida, we flew clear across the country to “uncharted territory” – the dry, cold desert of Nevada. This is our perspective.
Upon arrival, we all had those “night before the car show jitters,” but amplified. This is SEMA we’re talking about, guys. Attending this event has been a life-long goal and dream for me. Each day we walked about a mile from our hotel to the Las Vegas Convention Center – cold weather, wind, not even rain stopped us. Walking from the far end of the strip, where we stayed, we knew we were getting closer to the show because we would start seeing big rigs with big names like “Meguiar’s” and “Air Lift Performance” plastered over their sides parked out of the way. This would make room for the outside portion of the show.
The first stop for each day was the Media Center. SEMA is broken up into three large buildings (one with two floors) and a large outdoor area. We had to walk through the outdoor portion to get to our first stop, which obviously slowed us down a bit…but we didn’t mind. Every day we would notice something new, even after we had spent time to walk through this area. The same went for every other area at SEMA.
In the Media Center we would upload photos, write and launch articles, and plan out our day. Pro Tip: HAVE A PLAN. STICK TO IT. REMEMBER THAT YOU WONT. There is an official SEMA app for your phone that provides you with a map showing where all the vendors are, along with a list of celebrity appearances and seminars that you can add to a calendar within the app to help you make the most of your time there. It absolutely helps, but when car nuts see something shiny or rusty, there isn’t too much that can keep them away.
Veterans warned us of how enormous the show would be. We believed them, but you can’t put into words just how massive this thing is. It’s like trying to imagine “infinity” – you can’t. You have a hard time sticking to your plans from earlier in the day because there is so much to distract you from it. Like I mentioned earlier, you will see something new in the same place that you thought you had already thoroughly examined which will lead you completely off course. The only plans that we could stick to were the scheduled events, meetings, or autographs sessions happening throughout the day (thanks to the SEMA app!). As hard as we tried to stay organized, everything else turned into a free-for-all of automotive binging.
As you may have read in our Day Three Recap article, we were able to meet up with friends from all over the world, make new connections, and meet heroes of the automotive world. At SEMA, since it is an industry-only event, you find yourself at the same level as everyone else. Even when speeches and live interviews were conducted, such as Vaughn Gittin Jr. at the Ford booth, you are physically at the same level as these people who have become household names. It both puts things into perspective and also humbles you. At the end of each day, we were exhausted…and by “end of the day,” I only mean 5pm – when the show floor closes. We were physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. Another Pro Tip: pack light for show days. With most of us being photographers we brought extra lenses and other gear, meaning we had to lug all the extra weight around. Take only what you absolutely need, and leave room for the free swag! We literally walked at least 6 miles each day (carrying all of our gear along with whatever we decided to buy or take home that particular day), so you could imagine how we were feeling by the last day of SEMA.
In our Day Four Recap article we went over SEMA Ignited. This is the part of the show that is open to the public, and arguably, one of the best parts. Another Pro Tip that we picked up from SEMA veterans was to stay for the last day of SEMA rather than to arrive in Vegas early. On the final day you can watch all of the cars leave the convention center – and all under their own power, too. We are so glad we took that advice! It was like an industrial fashion show – the runway was made of pavement and the models made of metal, fiberglass, and sometimes rust. All of the cars lined up around the block, some larger than life, some lower than the pavement. They waited to enter an outdoor parking lot where they would roll through one-by-one… Slowly at first, then a quick slap of pedal to metal once they each cleared the dip – some blowing smoke and others blowing eardrums. It was bright. It was loud. It was SEMA.