It may only be four days long, but the SEMA Show feels like so many more considering just how large it is.
Even after the first day, you’re sore, tired and ready to take a nap, so by the end of the third day many show attendees are ready to go home. However, the fourth and final day is always worth attending thanks to the amazing parade that leads to the official after-party, otherwise known as SEMA Ignited.
For this reason, the show shuts at the earlier time of 4:00pm on Friday. All of the running cars that were packed into and around the massive Las Vegas Convention Center for the week, then prepare to roll out in front of thousands of assembled fans.
The first group to join the parade are usually the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational cars, who were invited to a final round of the Ultimate Street Car Association at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Cars are not only invited during the year but also at the show by SEMA and Optima.
Many of the vehicles that attend the SEMA Show aren’t street legal, so this is a rare chance to legally hit the road. It’s only to the Gold Lot parking area next door to the convention center, but a spectacle all the same.
The parade brings out the celebrities, and if they aren’t watching or being a passenger then they’re probably driving their own car out.
You’ll also see the friends and family of the cars’ owners in the vehicles taking photos and videos from their very unique perspective. It’s a parade that only SEMA could put on.
Then there’s SEMA Ignited itself. There was a time when the public was given access to the SEMA Show, but when it moved to an industry-only affair, the opportunity to create an event at the end of the week that everyone could attend presented itself. It’s a great way to wrap things up, too. The parade continues around the drift course and over to parking spots so that everyone in attendance can take a look at the cars up close.
It’s more than just a parade and an arena open to the public, though. SEMA’s Battle of the Builders also finishes out its competition, and this year Troy Trepanier and his 1929 Ford Model A took out the big prize. To cap off a great evening, Formula Drift drivers that came to the show were invited to drift the night away.
However, that was not the biggest thing to happen during SEMA Ignited – this is. Red Bull Formula One driver Max Verstappen brought out a 2011 – and naturally aspirated V8 – F1 car to slide around on the course, though he mostly did donuts.
The SEMA Show is considered a trade show, but it’s one that people look forward to and only seems to be getting bigger with each passing year. We know that there will be more attendees, more vendors, and of course more cars next November. While that also means that I’ll be even sorer by the end of SEMA week 2018, I’m already counting down the days. I don’t think I’m alone either.
Photos by Louis Yio