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SEMA Heritage: SEMA Showmanship, Circa 1971

SEMA News—November 2011


Showmanship, Circa 1971

By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Source Interlink Media Archives

How do you get your share of attention at the SEMA Show when foot traffic is shoulder-to-shoulder thick? Some gimmicks these days have gotten pretty outrageous but—as you can see in this photo from the 1971 Show—SEMA showmanship is a decades-long tradition.

Petersen Publishing Company photographer Pat Brollier was walking the aisles at the Anaheim Convention Center during pre-Show setup and just couldn’t resist this sight. If the lovely model didn’t catch your eye, and you missed Uncle Sam ’cause he’s way up there on his stilts, Al Unser’s Indy 500-winning Parnelli Jones Colt would surely draw you into the US Wheels booth.

When Brollier took this photo in January 1971, the SEMA Show was just a few years beyond its humble beginnings under the Dodger Stadium bleachers. Yet it was growing quickly, with hundreds of vendors and thousands of buyers, jobbers, media and other attendees turning out for this edition.

In 1972, it would be held for the first time alongside the APAA show; and not long after, in 1977, the SEMA Show would grow to the point that it needed a much bigger venue: Las Vegas.