Well, that’s what it originally stood for in 1963 when a small bunch of aftermarket speed part manufacturers got together to organize, promote the hot rod parts industry, and to sort of standardize some of the parts being used in competition. Among those first SEMA companies were a few performance names that are still present in our world: Isky (Ed was president!), Edelbrock, Ansen, B&M and Offenhauser, to name a few. From those humble beginnings, the show has grown into the 3 gigantic Vegas Convention Center halls of craziness you see now. Heck, custom wheels and tires basically take up a whole hall to themselves. Back in ’63, all of the original members were founders of companies that made speed equipment exclusively (hence, the organization’s original name in my title).
The show is still worth checking out once in your life just for sheer variety of manufacturers present, the latest hot rod parts and customizing trends, and it’s still a great place to run into legends like Vic Jr., Gene Winfield, or Norm Grabowski. I was there in 2004, the year that diecast car maker GMP debuted the 1:18th scale Pierson Bros. 1934 Coupe, and they had Dick and Bob Pierson hanging out with real car all weekend in their booth, signing stuff. Very cool. I’m looking forward to seeing who I stumble across this year…
Enjoy some pictures from the humble early years of SEMA, circa 1967:
More early SEMA pics here: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=143909
(Editor’s Notes: One person Jay will stumble onto is your humble editor, Ryan. He will be attending the show as a guest of Autoweek… Much more later.)