SEMA News—April 2016
By John Stewart and Mike Imlay
Second Annual SEMA Ignited
The Official SEMA Show After-Party Lights Up Friday Night
SEMA Ignited, conceived as a way for SEMA Show exhibitors to extend their brands to a consumer audience, kicked off Friday night after the weeklong, trade-only SEMA Show ended. The Ignited event, situated just a short walk from the Las Vegas Convention Center, gave thousands of car enthusiasts a magical opportunity to view singular automotive creations on display at the world-famous SEMA Show.
In just its second year, SEMA Ignited has become a broad-based celebration of American car culture. More than 27,000 registered for the event, up 20% from the previous year, but the cars, music and celebrities contributed to a surge of social-media postings that pulsed through the enthusiast community and beyond.
SEMA News photographers were on hand to capture the moment. The accompanying photos provide a taste of the excitement from the second annual SEMA Ignited.
Opening Act: The SEMA Cruise
Even as exhibitors in the trade-only 2015 SEMA Show wrapped up their last transactions, hundreds of custom vehicles roared to life and poured out the doors of the Las Vegas Convention Center to join the eagerly anticipated SEMA Cruise. Outside, approximately 3,000 delighted enthusiasts waited, lining the streets to witness a steady stream of custom musclecars, perfectly restored classics, high-performance pro-tourers, outrageous off-road machines, exquisite hot rods, stylish lead sleds, sleek sports cars, fabulous lowriders, imported exotics and all manner of one-of-a-kind, built-from-the-ground-up creations. As daylight faded into night, the crowd took a short walk across the street to the vast Gold Lot, where attendees discovered that the party had just begun.
Nothing Else Like It
When the gates opened, SEMA Ignited ticket holders poured into a setting of live music on three stages, a lively retail midway, good food and refreshments and a continuous drifting exhibition. Every few steps, another inspiring automotive creation was there to be experienced. For car guys and their friends, it was paradise—a rare chance to view extraordinary SEMA Show vehicles up close, study their equipment combinations and take note of unique design features. The broad gathering of custom vehicles—representing every tradition of automotive culture in one place—is not likely to occur again anywhere else on the planet…until next year. Consider this your invitation to join in!
SEMA Cruise and SEMA Ignited provide a content bonanza for mainstream print and digital media, much of which will continue to appear in the coming months. But it also seemed that every spectator had a camera, immediately creating and sharing his or her own photos and video memories. Analytics confirm that thousands of attendees took the opportunity to collect and share images from the Ignited event, generating social-media coverage using tweets, Vines, Instagrams and Facebook postings of cackling dragsters, drifting action, celebrity sightings and all manner of selfies with good friends and dream cars.
In the Presence of Royalty
The charismatic actor Sung Kang, perhaps best known for his work as the character Han in The Fast and the Furious film series, was widely recognized by enthusiasts who lined up to get autographs on their shirts and hats, and cell-phone photographs as souvenirs. Elsewhere, dozens of high-profile builders were in attendance, including celebrated designer Chip Foose and other broadcast personalities, providing an opportunity for Ignited attendees to rub elbows with their heroes.
Highly skilled drivers from Formula Drift riveted an audience of thousands, masterfully executing full-lock, full-power slides and snap turns in perfect tandem formation. Crowds were drawn to the spectacle of high-performance technology in action and the stirring sounds of high-revving engines. In the nearby pit/staging area, curious fans had a chance to meet and talk with the professional drivers for whom driving is an art form, and to find out about their race cars.
Attracted by the celebrities and major-league builders, fans gathered to watch as hosts Adrienne Janic and Chris Jacobs got ready to announce which of the three builder finalists—Chip Foose, Alan Johnson and Bobby Alloway—won the top prize. For the second year, SEMA Ignited served as the backdrop for taping of the “SEMA: Battle of the Builders” one-hour television special in which top customizers go head-to-head in a contest only one can win. (To learn more about the top 10 builders and their cars, read "Battle of the Builders.") The television special is scheduled for multiple airings throughout the year on the Velocity Channel, leading up to the 2016 SEMA Show. Visit www.velocity.com/schedule to find times in your area.