2018 SEMA Spirits & Outlook


SEMA is the automotive aftermarket’s yearly trade show that takes place in Las Vegas every November/ late October. It’s the largest show the aftermarket community has, dwarfing any car show you’ve ever been to. It’s the second largest convention Vegas hosts each year (based off of last year’s numbers it’s rivaled only by CES, the Consumer Electronics Show), drawing over 160K attendees and 2,400 exhibitors. Once a year the entire town is taken over by auto industry people of all kinds. Driving in the city during the event is tough because everywhere you look there’s some over-the-top custom vehicle. Parts-wise, if it exists in the aftermarket, it’ll be at SEMA. Most companies reveal new products for the following year here as well. It’s important to note that this show is closed to the general public. Only people who work in the automotive industry are allowed to attend (so stick with us, we’ll show you all the cool stuff).

When I started in this industry, attending my first SEMA 18 years ago, I remember how in awe I was of everything once I walked through the convention center doors for the first time. There’s just so much to see, and as an 18-year-old enthusiast fresh into a new job turning wrenches at a small truck accessory shop, I didn’t even know where to start. But I just had to see it all. Now here’s the problem with that idea: If you do the math, 2,400 booths to see with four nine-hour days to make it happen, if you spent 5 minutes at each booth from the moment the doors opened on the first day to the second they closed on the last, you’d only be able to see a fifth of the show. Yeah, it’s that massive.


Within the first five years or so that I attended SEMA, each visit was still overwhelming. So many people to see, so many parts to check out, and I still wanted to see it all and tried as hard as I could each year to no avail. Apparently, I hadn’t done the aforementioned “math.” At some point, I realized that there was simply no way to see everything, and once that happened, I slowed down a bit and got a little more methodical with my approach. Nowadays, my time at the show is spent with three straight days of meetings with parts manufacturers, one every 45 minutes (which is why every year DW contributor Jason Sands covers the show for us since I just can’t pull it off with the schedule). A few years ago, I was doing four straight days of meetings and quickly realized I needed a day to just take the show in, to wander around and see what’s hot, to see what I missed in all those meetings. This year I’m doing it a bit differently; this year I’ve got two free days (yes!!). On those days I’ll be walking around taking the show in while doing live feeds on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. I’ll also be the guest host for the Diesel Podcast, so I’ll be talking with industry professionals, racers, and many more for the podcast. You can check out those podcasts on our website (DieselWorldMag.com). Look for the “Diesel Podcast” link at the top or in the menu for mobile. The podcast can also be found on iTunes, SoundCloud, and many other like hosting sites.

Once the show is over, I and eight of our regular contributors (writers and photographers) head to a secret location for early-morning photoshoots. The first year I did this, we had around 20 trucks show up. Last year? Forty-seven. However, this year we’re doing it a bit differently. We’re only inviting 15 trucks, essentially the best of “the-best-of-the-best.” And we’re doing video interviews, podcasts, and more with every one of them. After all, Diesel World is more than just the magazine. And remember, there’s so much more on DieselWorldMag.com. It’s updated every single day. And, since by the time you read this it may be already be after, or during, the show, head to our social media pages (@DieselWorldMag for IG or Facebook) to see all the good stuff from SEMA 2018. If you’re not into the web stuff (heck, even if you are), don’t worry. Next month we’ll have special print-only SEMA show coverage. It really is an amazing time. All those SEMA builds out in the middle of the desert doing donuts, drifting, just showing off for the camera. It’s a car or truck enthusiast’s dream.

Stay tuned for updates, predictions, and coverage for this year’s 2019 SEMA!

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