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Event Coverage SEMA 2018 - What to Expect

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kbuhagiar, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. kbuhagiar
    Joined: Apr 3, 2007
    Posts: 139


    Hello HAMBers,

    My wife and I will be attending the 2018 SEMA show in Las Vegas. This will be our first show, and our first trip back to Vegas in almost 20 years. We'll be there from Monday through Saturday, so hopefully plenty of time to cover a lot of ground.

    I've heard lots about the SEMA show, and how it is a mecca for gearheads. My nephew went last year and couldn't stop babbling about how great it was.

    I'm looking for advice from any SEMA show veterans online here that can give some advice about what to see - and what to avoid - in order to maximize our experience.

    Any and all observations and recommendations are greatly appreciated.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  2. Hard to say without know what you are interested in. The hot rod/ restoration section is usually the central hall with performance and first time displayers. The rest of the show is huge so expect to walk miles so good shoes are a must. If you're not that into wheels and tires there is an entire hall dedicated to that. There is a truck section, there is a collision section etc so you can narrow things down or hurry through a bit if certain areas are of no interest to you.
  3. the oil soup
    Joined: May 19, 2013
    Posts: 194

    the oil soup
    from Tucson,AZ

    Several of the nice casino/hotels offer shuttle service to SEMA, take a few days to enjoy it.
    kbuhagiar likes this.
  4. kbuhagiar
    Joined: Apr 3, 2007
    Posts: 139


    We are prepared to walk miles every day, no worries there.

    Hot rod / restoration is definitely high up on our list. Also looking forward to see any/all of the commercial rod builders/shops and their current projects. Are the vendor displays scattered throughout the facility, or all grouped in one location?

    We love 'em all - street rods, muscle cars, restorations, plus checking out all of the latest new products from the vendors.

    Also: Vegas!

    I'm pretty sure we're gonna have a blast no matter what.

  5. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 14,833

    from oregon

    You say that now.
    You will love it!
    kbuhagiar likes this.
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 48,664


    I've only been once recently, it was still fun. Years ago, I met a few notable people there--Smokey Yunick, Wally Parks, Pat Ganahl, etc. There are some neat things tucked away amongst all the modern marketing drivel.
    kbuhagiar likes this.
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 26,615

    Jalopy Joker

    be sure to pay attention to the map of the layout in the buildings - easy to be heading one direction and then see something in another aisle and forget to go back where you were - a small back pack, or shoulder bag, works better than just carrying the free plastic bags - if you are hungry go eat, and get something to drink - no need to over push yourself - plus, there is a ton to see outside - don't forget that there is a big outdoor event down the street right after SEMA ends - do not not lose everything while gambling, if you do any, the first day - make reservations early to take in a special show at one of the big Hotel/Casinos - be sure that you post H.A.M.B. friendly pics here
    kbuhagiar likes this.
  8. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 4,185

    rusty rocket

    Bring good shoes and pace yourself. Its hard to see it all even in several days. Have a great time.
    Head down to fremont for a night and take in a show on the strip both well worth the time and money.
  9. kbuhagiar
    Joined: Apr 3, 2007
    Posts: 139


    That's definitely part of the plan. Thanks.
  10. ETwagon
    Joined: Apr 6, 2007
    Posts: 97

    from Arizona

  11. Ranchero59 likes this.
  12. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,726

    from Colorado

    Probably the best and most accurate SEMA write up I’ve ever seen!
    Ranchero59 and HEMI32 like this.
  13. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,136


    I have been going since 1990. I learned the hard way to plan each day in advance. There are so much glittering eye Cady booths to distract you, and since the show is only 4 days, it's hard to see all of just what you want/need. You will be given 2 books. One will be a book listing every vendor and cross referenced. The other is a pocket guide to each vendor. Carefully review both of them and plan your daily agenda. If you still have time left, visit the new product display. If anything there interests you, the vendor and booth number is listed. If there is time left then by all means wandered the show and enjoy. Be advised that this show was once a hard core high performance and racing show which morphed into an all in one automotive show. I am still hard core so I plan to see that first. They have everything from winkey eye bobble head dolls, fake pin stripes, tires, and the lot if you want it. If my memory serves me correctly, we had 26 miles of aisle ways last year. I have bad knees so I scooter it. If you go bell to bell each day, your legs will feel like rubber at the end of the day. There is little seating except for a short section in the hall between north and center halls. By all means get a wheeled luggage carrier to haul all the materials you will collect. I go to the hotel and cull out the things that are not that good and set aside the good things. Also bring large water bottles. I refill mine at the nearest water fountain I can find. If you follow the must see, want to see, and enjoy everything else when done system that I have, the show becomes much more enjoyable. As a first timer, I ignored good advice from a friend that started at Dodger Stadium. Big mistake. I also eat a hearty breakfast and a good dinner. The food offered there is way overpriced and under taste. Unless you are a SEMA member and can enjoy their lounge. No matter what you choose to do, it is a spectacular show and whether you go this once or many more times, you will always remember it, and your feet will recover. Enjoy
    jnaki likes this.
  14. mopacltd
    Joined: Nov 11, 2008
    Posts: 919


    My Model A has been on the CenterForce banner/poster for a couple years. And a very close friends Blown truck is in the finals for the Hot Wheels deal
  15. Check out Frankie’s Tiki tiki bar
    BoilermakerDave likes this.
  16. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,189

    1. 1940 Ford

    Pay close attention to the throngs swinging selfie sticks around.:confused:
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  17. Also the “card flickers” on every corner giving you companionship options if your wife pisses you off haha
    i.rant likes this.
  18. Be careful going there. I went with some of the guys from Hollywood Hot Rods a couple years ago and it was a rough morning the next day.:confused:o_O:eek: @cretin :D
    cretin and porkshop like this.
  19. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,213


    Get a hotel room on the monorail route, its the best way to get back & forth, traffic is horrible
    i.rant likes this.
  20. Yeah those Mai Tai’s go down real easy...such a cool place
  21. cretin
    Joined: Oct 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,939


    Haha! That was a bit of a rough day. At least we didn’t have it as rough as Brett did.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  22. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,136


    Well, how was your first SEMA experience?
  23. kbuhagiar
    Joined: Apr 3, 2007
    Posts: 139


    Very interesting. Generally speaking, we had a blast.

    On the one hand, it was everything I expected. It certainly is as large and spread out as everyone says; my wife and I averaged a little over 10 miles of walking every day, including the mile back and forth from the hotel to the convention center. The weather was perfect. Lots of excitement, plenty of great displays, and the chance to see many new products displayed in person. As a (very) small business owner, it gave me a chance to exchange ideas with vendors and other like-minded individuals, and as a gearhead I had a chance to meet and speak to many of the people inside the hobby. Chip Foose is really as nice a guy as he appears on TV, and seeing his Ridler-award-winning 65 Impala in person was a real treat.

    On the other Day 2 the crowds at the show were a bit much. Too many people taking too many pictures of EVERYTHING, and carrying too much stuff in backpacks and tote bags, along with an overabundance of people on mobility scooters, and families with children pretending it was Disneyland, all combining to obstruct the aisles at every turn. Patience was the order of the day, and I saw my share of tempers boiling over (and rightly so). The overall quality of vehicles on display was...disappointing, and a bit uncreative. There were a few cars worth looking at, but just how many jacked-up neon-colored big-wheeled trucks does a person need to see? We saw everything we came to see on the first three days, and by Day 4 we were ready for a day off and hung out at the hotel pool. And beyond the show, for me anyway, a little bit of Las Vegas goes a long way. The best decision we made was to make sure we were in walking distance of everything we wanted to see, as driving - and parking - can be a real nightmare. Convention parking was $40 or $50, and you were still a quarter-mile from the venue. Even if you ride-share you need to allow plenty of time to maneuver through the traffic near the Strip, which can be infernal in the evening. In this current incarnation of Vegas, there are no more bargains to be found; hotels charge $40 a day to park, and there is that stupid resort fee that they all charge now. This is not to say that the City That Keeps Its Secrets doesn't have its charms; it just that , over the years, my priorities have changed a bit.

    This was definitely a bucket list item, and I am glad I did it. Would I do it again? Sure, maybe one more time, but only for a couple of days and with a clearer idea of what to see and what to expect.
    lurker mick and deucemac like this.

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