SEMA week is four days of overwhelming automotive immersion. OEMs, aftermarket manufacturers, wild customs, concept vehicles and more. After a few days of roaming the roughly three million square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center, one becomes a little numb to the sheer passion, and enthusiasm.
The emphasis on the commercial market distracts us from the commonality that brought everyone together. The love for cars, and customization as a creative outlet that fuels this affluent industry. Without the demand from builders in shops or home garages, none of us would be here.
After the hectic week of products and flash and noise we were brought back down to earth with SEMA Ignited, the yearly afterparty. A parking lot car show, where the vehicles of SEMA can congregate and finally be shown to the masses, no sales push or commercial angle. Live music, guest appearances, a drift exhibition, and more were the atmospheric foundation for the exhale after the long week.
Among the crowd were vehicles of all types, from hot-rodded ice cream trucks, to custom built exotics and everything else you can imagine. The attitude in the air was celebratory, finally everyone could take off the suit and just be car people again. Fender to fender with fellow enthusiasts, show-goers recounted stories from the week and admired the top shelf selection of cars on display.
Among the more exotic were several track-inspired creations based on vehicles we had become desensitized to over the week. A quarter-million dollar supercar just wasn’t eye-catching enough anymore, we needed a stronger fix to feed the thrill. The crowd comprised of late-model muscle, European, and other imports were some of the best showing of the demographics. Extensive composite fabrication, aerodynamics, wraps, and custom styling set these cars apart from the classics.
These niche markets have always represented the avante garde of the car industry. If something new and edgy is going to be attempted it will be found on a late model. With the increasing rarity of original hot rod and muscle car platforms, builders are happy to take advantage of the technological advancements made in modern vehicles.
The selection of drift cars was on display for the public to approach and examine. These stripped-out and tightly-strung machines varied from domestic V8s to Japanese high-strung power. All of the vehicles looked well-seasoned rather than show-kept.
As the sun set over the western mountains the parade of cars continued to fill the parking lot. Previously restrained engines were allowed to breath and we were treated to a variety of exhaust notes, the exodus from the convention center to the parking lot became an exhibition in itself.
As vehicles stopped to rev engines, do burnouts, and show off, the streets were lined with onlookers enjoying the show.
Into the darkness, cars continued to fill the massive parking lot, and the crowds only grew. So many custom creations in one spot only goes to show that the industry is thriving, and we can only guess what we will see next year.