By Mike Imlay
Did you feel the energy? A juggernaut hit Las Vegas this past November 1–4 when the annual SEMA Show roared back into the city’s convention center. And it was clear the specialty-automotive industry was ready for business.
Reflecting a rapidly changing aftermarket, the Show greatly revamped its education, networking and event programs. There were also new exhibitions, features, vehicle displays, and plenty of interactive thrills seen, felt and shared throughout the 1-million sq. ft. trade event—not to mention thousands of new products for attendees to discover. Plus, there was an exciting announcement of new things to come, with SEMA undertaking a citywide expansion of the Show, beginning November 2023.
“SEMA wishes extend a huge thanks to our 2022 Show exhibitors, attendees, sponsors and partners for making the event such an outstanding success,” said SEMA President and CEO Mike Spagnola. “Across the board, participation far exceeded expectations, and the industry’s support and energy were everywhere to be seen. This Show will be remembered as among the best our association has ever produced, and demonstrates again why the SEMA Show remains the world’s number-one automotive trade event.”
After its successful return as a live event in 2021, the 2022 Show proved beyond a doubt that the specialty automotive industry is revved up and leaving the pandemic behind. Nearly 3,000 exhibitors and approximately 130,000 attendees flooded the 2022 Show halls, representing 30% growth over 2021.
“Trade events like the SEMA Show are meant to both highlight and energize industry trends and innovation, and throughout the Show it was evident that SEMA-member companies are ready to seize the future,” said SEMA Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso. “It’s no exaggeration to say the 2022 Show was a historic milestone. From the moment you arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center, you could feel the energy and momentum.”
“The 2022 event was very forward-focused,” added Gattuso. “We increased the size and scope of our SEMA Electrified section and added the new SEMA ADAS Showcase to demonstrate recalibration of modified vehicles for compliance with advanced driver-assistance systems, and attendee interest in both was notably high.”
“Also, there were more equipment manufacturers and electric-vehicle [EV] conversion companies for attendees to connect with as well as live demonstrations of products and procedures. We additionally expanded our educational seminars addressing vehicle electrification and other emerging technologies, and the many new opportunities they’re providing our industry businesses.”
Other key features included the popular SEMA Overland Experience, the Chip Foose Experience, and an eBay Motors Experience featuring the Hoonigan Burnyard, drift ride-alongs and a stunning collection of unique vehicles. An expanded OPTIMA Village played host to Ultimate Street Car Invitational events, numerous demos and celebrity appearances, and lots of tire smoke.
Moreover, the Show exuded industry diversity in every sense of the word. There were bed-dancing mini trucks, truck drifting, and lowrider hopping, courtesy TIS Off-Road and urban-car-scene veteran Myles Kovacs. Donk vehicles stood proudly alongside the traditional performance and street racers, trucks and off-road vehicles, hot rods and classic show cars. The Motorcycle Industry Council “Ride With Us” activation feature even taught new enthusiasts how to ride.
Meanwhile, the Show’s “Still I Race” exhibition paid tribute to African American Racing Association legends, and a SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) Ford Bronco Wildtrak showcased the growing contributions of female builders. Headline celebrities further appealed to a broad range of interests. They included keynote appearances by football great and now NASCAR team owner Emmitt Smith, NHRA champion Anton Brown, and Kevin Hart’s Muscle Car Crew, among others.
The annual Monday-night Exhibitor Appreciation Party featuring the SEMA Awards, the Tuesday-morning Kickoff Breakfast, and the Thursday-evening Industry Awards Banquet all saw updated formats. Likewise, rules changes to the SEMA Battle of the Builders and Launch Pad competitions broadened their appeal, and the Show’s Friday Experience for qualified consumer attendees was expanded. Open to the public, the annual SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited after-party further amped public enthusiasm for car culture.
Ultimately, words can’t capture the scope and excitement of the 2022 SEMA Show. But you can get a feel for it all in these photos. And make your plans now: SEMA Week 2023 promises an even greater impact starting this November.