Some say that if you've been to SEMA once, you've been to it 100 times. Some say that the articles about SEMA are no different. People come and go and the products change-sometimes-but the show goes on, year after year, and the articles spew out, one after another. Yes, I was there for the 2008 SEMA Show. But this is not one of those articles.
The highlight? Although sitting on the carpet eating chicken sandwiches and fries with Aaron had its moments, SEMA is always about the cars. And the parts. And the models. Oh, and of course the after-parties, but we're not here to talk about those. Several hours prior to plopping down with the editor for a $14 sandwich, I hopped on a plane from my hometown in South Carolina. As usual, I was tardy and broke, but SEMA was calling. Of course I had my lights and my camera, and I stuffed just about everything I could into my favorite thrift-shop suitcase that I paid a buck for. I eventually ended up in Las Vegas at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. After an hour's worth of nonsense spent trying to get a room at the Luxor, I was on the monorail headed to the convention center where SEMA's held. It was now noon and the show started at 9 a.m., but what with more than 100,000 heads I'm pretty sure nobody noticed me waltzing in late.
One word can describe this year's show: roomy. The lack of attendees compared to last year was obvious. There were lots of people, there were just fewer of those who don't belong and a bit more elbow room. No, despite the economy, most everyone who belongs at SEMA was at SEMA. In their own words, the slumped economy seemed to have gotten rid of most of the "tire kickers," or to be more clear, the window shoppers, the time wasters, and the general public. All of this was a good thing for the companies that did show up.
Lunch with Aaron was great and all, but I had work to do. I walked the floor like a madman, searching for anything and everything Honda-related-cars, parts, whatever. Yes, such findings were slim, they have been for the last five years, but those who did show love for the Honda brand did so passionately. The usual suspects were there, but the product ranges were broadened-not just your typical B- and K-series parts. Ah, and then there's Honda's booth. The Mecca of SEMA for guys like us. The place where guys like Aaron call me on my cell to meet up with him. It's always in the far right corner; you can never miss it. It was my highlight, what with the Mugen Fit, the Honda Factory Performance Civic sedan and all. Of course there was the Galpin turbocharged Accord, a clean S2000 specimen, and several other modded vehicles that were all on hit. My favorite? The black Si coupe, complete with a full Nascar scheme, or something of the sort. I'll be looking out for this one.
In light of all of this, I'm starting to wonder how 2009 will look for those of us in the Honda community. We already borrow trends from other markets-which is great as far as I'm concerned-but I can't help but wonder if Honda-specific support will ever peak like it once did. Yeah, yeah, K swaps are still on the rise and support for this engine isn't going anywhere. There's also the V-6 transplants, which is what I'll be keeping my eye on. Mark my words: This is the future of Honda engine swaps. That's a topic for another time though.
Oh yeah, about those SEMA parties. Yeah, I partied my ass off. Look around; I'm sure there are snapshots on at least a few forums. Just look for the guy with the camera doing something stupid. SEMA 2009 or bust!