I was a little disappointed after SEMA this year. Not at all by the event itself, but instead by the social media posts I saw surrounding the show during and after the fact.
There was some positive energy focused on certain cars or booths, and my friends exhibiting parts or vehicles at the show were obviously excited to be involved. On the other hand, it seemed like many of the casual observers were bent on representing the 2021 SEMA Show in a poor light, and of course these voices seemed to drown out the others. Photos of empty spaces and smallish crowds along with the usual complaints of ‘Overfender Nationals’ and Bluetooth driveshafts inundated my feeds.
In the face of great adversity and difficulty the SEMA Show still went on, thanks to thousands of people working behind the scenes to make it a reality.
So, why would we not celebrate that instead?
It’s no easy feat pulling off a show of this scale in normal times, let alone while a contagious virus is still claiming the lives of 1,000+ people in the US each day.
I don’t want to focus on this too much in this post, but Covid definitely was the elephant in the room this year and ignoring the reality would be irresponsible.
Despite this, thousands of booths filled the roughly 2.5-million square feet available in the Las Vegas Convention Center. I heard from an attendee at SEMA that this would be the largest trade show in the United States this year, too. I wasn’t able to find anything to corroborate this, but I wouldn’t be surprised given the country’s slow rebound and recovery from Covid and the surprisingly strong turnout at SEMA, all things considered.
Plus, the Boring Company’s Tesla tunnel thing under the convention center was kind of cool, and pretty effective too.
This isn’t to say that everything was perfect, and attendance certainly felt thinner than in previous years. And granted, there was some empty space around the show as well.
Some big names pulled out, and I’m sure a lot of smaller companies just couldn’t justify it this year either. But it just wasn’t at all the doom and gloom I saw represented on Instagram and Facebook. If you try hard enough, you can make anything look bad, but why would you?
Sure, there were also a lot of pretty poorly-done vehicles on display at the show, I’ll give you that. However, this isn’t something that is unique to Covid-era SEMA. This is always true.
For every car I really like, there are probably 100 that either aren’t to my taste, aren’t quite finished, or are just plain bad. For example, I’ve never really given brodozers a second look; I’d rather spend my time hunting for the things I actually like.Over-Deliver
I spend my time at SEMA searching out the brands I appreciate, who have been chugging along over the last year to develop new and innovative products in hopes they’ll end up on our cars, just like always. I spend my time hunting for the cars that I think are really cool, which were built by guys and girls like you and I who have been hustling over the last year, just like always.
To me, SEMA is simply about finding the best and most interesting cars, and knowing that I’ll probably still miss half of them at this truly massive show.
For example, I learned that Hotchkis makes an amazing bolt-on setup for a first-generation Mustang that greatly helps to improve the handling and adjustability, and I was blown away by how light QA1’s carbon fiber driveshafts are. The SFI-certified piece at the top of their display weighs a fraction of its steel counterpart yet is still capable of withstanding 750hp from just a 2.25-inch outer diameter. I also spotted dozens of feature-worthy cars, a few of which will be receiving spotlights here in the coming days.
You just have to take the good with the bad, and what you focus on is entirely up to you.
SEMA has always been this way to me, just like any other car show where you must avert your eyes from the things you find unsavory and instead focus on what excites you. This year was no different, and for that I’m thankful.
I’m also thankful for the collective tens of thousands involved in making it happen, from the employees of SEMA itself to the designers, fabricators, builders, tire companies, manufacturers, car companies, airline pilots, Las Vegas police, and many more who made this a reality.
Plus a dog, even. How can you have anything bad to say about this good boy?