Another year has come and gone for automotive industries largest show SEMA. Year after year, SEMA has become the cornerstone of all things representing the automotive industry showcasing new products from every corner of the market. The expectations are high, and vendors who put themselves in the public eye at SEMA are always putting their best foot forward. But have you ever wondered how it all started?
SEMA, like any organization, has a beginning story. Originally called Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association when they started in 1963, the organization comes from humble beginnings during the muscle car days. Originating out of a need to fill a gap in industry trade regulations, SEMA was the born from the Revell Model company and headed by its first president Ed the “camfather” Iskenderian. Other original members came from the same fuel filled genetics and came by way of names like Roy Richter, Willie Garner, Bob Hedman, Robert E. Wyman, John Bartlett, Phil Weiand, Jr., Al Segal, Dean Moon, and Vic Edelbrock, Jr. Each pioneers in their respective areas and each having made their own mark in automotive history. Not long after its beginnings, the organization changed its name to Specialty Equipment Market Association officially in 1970.
A few months ago, EPA caused a huge ruckus amongst SEMA and racing enthusiasts. The EPA originally had language in their greenhouse gas emission law that prohibited the modification of vehicles even if they are solely used for competition and never to be used on the road.
The details deep in the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2 law included a provision where “Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles or engines.” This did not sit well with many as the EPA has historically always left the motorsport industry alone. The EPA recently made a statement saying that they fully support motorsports and the major contribution it makes as an industry in the US.
With the language now removed from the Greenhouse Gas Emission law, the motorsport industry and the folks over at SEMA no longer have anything to worry about. However, this removal of this language only takes the target off of the motorsport industry, and not aftermarket companies who manufacture parts for on road vehicles.
In an effort to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set its target on prohibiting street cars to be converted into race cars for motorsport purposes. Current EPA guidelines exclude vehicles that are used for the sole purpose of on track racing from emission standards that were established for everyday road going vehicles.
If the proposed regulations should pass, it will be an enormous impact to both the motor racing industry and the aftermarket industry as a whole. The Speciality Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) CEO Chris Kersting stated “This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency, runs contrary to the law and defies decades of racing activity where EPA has acknowledged and allowed conversion of vehicles. Congress did not intend the original Clean Air Act to extend to vehicles modified for racing and has re-enforced that intent on more than one occasion.”
The Optima Invitational, or Optima Ultimate Street Series, or whatever they’re calling it these days, invites owners of any and all vehicles to join in a multi-stage performance test in a bid to be crowned the ultimate street car (and driver). Cars are split into classes based on age and weight, and follow pretty standard rules – mandating street tires, limiting aftermarket aero and, of course, making sure everything is safe – as they tackle up to 4 challenges during 1 of 8 qualifying rounds across America. From Pike’s Peak to Michigan International, drivers from all over the country are able to show up and try their luck in road rally, road course, autocross or speed stop, as well as receive points for how streetable their car is. The top performers at each qualifying round, as well as the winners of each event and some lucky “Spirit of the Event” cars get invited to the final showdown at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, held immediately after SEMA.
Unfortunately for us, the majority of cars had already rolled out before we could get shots, but we got to see some great cars at their booth inside the hall. Check out the gallery for all the pics that we managed to get!
The Wheel and Tire Hall of the SEMA Show in the south halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center is probably my favorite halls to check out during this grueling week-long show. If you’re going to hit up the show only for a single day, this is a great place to start. There is constantly something cool to see whether you’re into In-Car-Entertainment, wheels, trucks, exotics, luxury or booth babe–I mean, booth professionals.
Center stage at the Ford booth here at the 2015 SEMA Show was the Ford GT Le Mans race car, unveiled this summer, commemorates the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 overall victory. The new race car is based on the all-new Ford GT supercar unveiled last January in Detroit and features the most powerful production EcoBoost engine, a twin-turbo V6.
As with last year, there were numerous Mustangs, Focus, and F-150s with mild to radical modifications. The Ford booth at SEMA is always a fun booth to walk through as there is usually something different to check out. In fact, for 2015 the Ford Mustang won the SEMA Show’s Hottest Car award which is based on how many tuners/exhibitors had a Mustang on display. There were some pretty crazy Mustangs at SEMA, but my favorite one was actually in the Ford booth this year. You can check it out in the gallery below, it’s the white widebody with blue wheels built by Ice Nine Group.
Check it, and the other vehicles in the Ford SEMA 2015 booth.
Headlining the Mopar booth at the 2015 SEMA Show was definitely the Dodge Challenger GT AWD Concept with its wide fender flares to fit the massive 20×11 and 20×10 wheels, and yeah you read that right. The GT AWD Concept combines raw muscle car power with the confidence and traction of all-wheel-drive proving that yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. That extra traction is needed to as the 5.7L HEMI V8 under the hood has been upgraded with the Scat Pack 3 Performance Pack which adds 75 horsepower and 44 lb-ft of torque.
While not quite as well rounded as last year’s SEMA booth there were still a few cars worth a look in the booth. The Chrysler 300 Super S dropped on a set of factory coilovers and Chrysler 200 S Mopar showed off the customization options available for Chrysler vehicles. In addition, a pair of Fiat 500 concepts, the Chicane and Mobe show off the personalization options available to Fiat owners. Rounding out our coverage is the Dodge Ram Rebel X which appears to be a Dodge Ram with the entire Dodge parts catalog bolted on covered in a paint job they call Copper.
Check out the pictures of the Mopar Booth in our gallery.
Hey look, MINI and BMW vehicles grouped together. Sometimes we make logical decisions, or perhaps some of the alcohol has worn off and we’re thinking a bit more clearly.
The BMW group had great representation at the 2015 edition of the SEMA Show. A couple notable examples would be Bulletproof Automotive’s BMW Z4 GT Continuum which was at the Toyo booth and a vehicle we referred to as “the rusty BMW”. The GT Continuum was a special project for their 15th anniversary. Like the MX-5 Speedster the GT Continuum ditches the windshield and also removes the folding metal roof. The end result looks like a steam-roller drove over the Z4 as it looks really low from hood to trunk.
The rusty BMW was actually not a build with actual rusty panels like you would see at your local DUBfest shows but instead, as I learned when googling the vehicle, a look the owner/builder created by rubbing motor oil on the exposed panels. The vehicle was actually pretty heavily damaged in a garage fire but his team was able to rebuild and salvage parts of the vehicle to turn it into the tube-framed beast you see here.
Check it, and the some of the other BMW and MINIs that we shot at the 2015 SEMA show.
OK, so maybe they didn’t take over SEMA but there was quite a few of them, and it was pretty awesome to see them all in one place. Nakai-San was here at SEMA as well, but unfortunately we didn’t run into him. RWB’s unique style is quite polarizing though as there are just as many people that hate Nakai-San’s creations as those that absolutely love it. While it isn’t something I personally would do to my own vehicle if I had one, I can certainly appreciate all the work that goes into each customer car. Pirelli brought a red RWB 911, LA’s JennaBelle to their booth and Forgestar/iForged hosted 5 other RWB 911s.
I know, I know, it’s really weird that we’re combining Lexus and Hyundai. “Why didn’t you just lump Lexus in with Toyota”? Because we’re in Vegas, the land of bad decisions and worse consequences. “I really don’t understand why you can’t just do it now instead of typing a stupid explanation”. Because the files are already named as such and it’s more difficult to fix it than to just apologize.
Honestly though, does it matter? You’re just here for the pictures and we’ve organized them nicely, Hyundai first, then Lexus. Wanna see a Veloster? Start at the beginning. Wanna see an RCF? Start near the middle. These are the sort of simple concepts that we COMPLETELY FAIL TO GRASP ON A REGULAR BASIS.