SEMA 2017

My American adventure had three main components, the ride, the Hot Rod Reunion and then the SEMA event.

Everything else was just a bonus.

I had mixed emotions about SEMA and all the hype surrounding the event, I enjoyed Death Valley so much that I was sad to leave, but I had booked at the Circus Circus for 4 nights so it was time to move on.

A big part of me wanted to just get on my bike and head out into Nevada’s vast desert.

With huge expectations comes an equally large chance of disappointment, I had been wanting to come here for so long and had heard so many amazing things about it that it couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations.

But with each footstep around the Las Vegas Convention center my inhibitions were swapped for excitement and inspiration.

Hall after hall of amazing machinery, it wasn’t confined to that either, with the entire block being turned into an outside drift/ display area.

My plan was to rush around and see everything then pick out my favorite areas to then revisit.

I thought I did that but then I found halls that I didn’t even know were there.

Then they led to other areas and by the 4th day I was still finding things I hadn’t seen yet.

I am confident I saw everything but I didnt really get a chance to take it all in.

Every single car and display and component has so many amazing features that 98% of the audience wouldn’t fully appreciate and that is probably the one thing about SEMA that is so overwhelming.

The photos I took really don’t do the event justice, hit this link to browse through the 200+ images of various details.

One thing that really surprised me was the trucks, I started spending more and more time looking at chassis and suspension components and found that the most effort as far as fabrication goes went into the trucks, I didn’t care so much for the bolt on huge lifted monster trucks but I loved the trophy trucks and their street variants.

Battleborn Engineering made this “Million Dollar Diesel” pickup and it had me stopped dead in my tracks. It was swamped all week so I really couldn’t get in or around it but I loved everything about it.

I went from knowing nothing about these trucks to watching them qualify for the Baja 1000 in just one day.

I went with Dylan, Dayton and Chris after talking to them earlier in the day. It was a fast paced introduction and a really good night out at Las Vegas motor speedway.

It was a full week of big HP V8’s and I was almost converted.

I would arrive as the doors opened, walk walk walk all day and leave as the doors closed at night.

S15 Silvias are rare in the USA , I always forget that I have one sitting at home, if anyone in the USA wants one them I am happy to build it and ship it over.

Anything goes.

Being from Australia we don’t really have an aftermarket trade show, I was just baffled at whats available off the shelf in America, the services and parts available from component manufacturers make anything possible if you can afford it. The CNC mill and advances with 5th axis machining are evident in any big HP engine.

I guess the mass population in the USA make the performance scene a viable market, I will say that Australia had a large presence at the show and their are a number of great companies expanding into the US scene.

There was plenty of European muscle as well.

Cockpits that displayed innovation and simplicity.

This Evo really stood out for me.

There wasn’t much in here I would change.

Or here for that matter.

Times have changed but the end goal is exactly the same.

We just have a little more data to sift through at the end of a current era track day.

I really enjoy seeing both era’s displayed at the one event, there really is something for everyone.

Cars on trucks.

Trucks on the ground.

Exotic metals make an exotic super car just that little bit more exciting.

Add a little composite into the mix.

You didn’t have to walk far to find perfection in each process.

If its done right then paint just isnt an option.

But if its to be painted then fine examples arn’t too far away either.

I have never stopped to appreciate paint like I had at SEMA, I don’t know why but these paint jobs were beyond flawless.

I found myself drawn to new versions of old wheel designs.

Speaking of new wheel designs the HGK Racing team just managed to get their new wheels fitted up onto the Kevlar Eurofighter, I spent some time with the guys from HGK and they are really great guys who are putting everything into their craft, if you can think it up then they can build it.

Their MAST Motorsport powerplant is serious business, these guys don’t stuff around.

Fighter jet inspiration on this neat roadster.

You name it its here and its bound to be the best you’ve ever seen.

Toyota had a lot of room but not a lot to show.

Ford really was king at SEMA, their display both out front and inside was seriously impressive.

BMW and KIA joined in and had there own drift demonstrations in separate parking lots. I stood there for a while and watched people get in and out of cars, I miss heading to the track and taking people for laps in my drift car, I think as a driver you get a little immune to the whole thing, the competition element burns things out a lot and its so easy to forget about the fact that its just good fun, but to stand there and see the smiles on peoples faces and the professionalism from the manufacturers promoting this made me feel a world away from home.

But the devil was always in the detail.

Stunning levels of finish applied everywhere.

It didn’t have to be finished to be spectacular though. I remember almost going down this route with the Hilux.

TIG Magic was everywhere.

I wish I could spend more time on the TIG, it’s my favorite part of the process, I get a warm fuzzy feeling everytime I have something metal finished with perfect fitment and ready to weld.

I tried extremely hard to get the idea of a mid 60’s Bronco build out of my mind. Just think about it though, complete tube frame, all new steel panels, big shocks, wide track V8 4wd ect.

Maybe even a 392 Hemi 4wd system? I spent a good 20 minutes looking at this, I needed a break after thinking about the possibilities that exsist in these halls.

New cars get built ever year.

Following and creating trends.

From the outside it seems like madness and it is but when you walk around and see everything that is available its like a supermarket, you go in there for a bottle of milk, one thing leads to another and you come out with a 4 course meal.

Everything I have ever built has taken inspiration from the American market, I didn’t even realize half of the stuff I saw was available.

In a way that is a good thing, but with the distance, the cost and the fact that the environment we live in here in Australia is so different it left me a little disappointed I wasn’t a resident of the USA.

The fact that your racecar can be used for the occasional Sunday cruise would make a remarkable improvement in my life.

But it is what it is and I hope that those who enjoy those liberty’s appreciate them.

Anyway… GRAVE DIGGER!

Ray Everingham is a motorsport hero in America, I have followed him for quiet some time and I have been following this build for a while now.

A modern take on an old circle track racer.

Mixing vintage hot rods with modern racer muscle is a thing, a very attractive thing.

These 392 Hemis are following me.

Not to mention the Broncos too.

It wasn’t until Friday that I found the Toyo Tires show area.

I had a date at the Magnaflow Live stage to record a podcast, I had met Chris the day before and convinced him I had a story to tell. It wasn’t until I was an hour and 17 minutes in and I had hardly scratched the surface that I realized I had way more to say than I thought.

Pre crossflow 4 cylinder engines aren’t the most popular engine of choice but this 510 had my vote.

A naturally aspirated SR20 Datsun pickup with throttles, you know that is right down my alley.

With friday coming to a close the cars started lining up to roll out of the event.

It started a procession that would last for 4 hours.

A fitting way to cap off a wild week.

And see the cars in a different light.

Some looked amazing while most of the air ride cars looked a little weird with their adjustable stance setup for static display.

Instagram on the run.

Day turned to night, if your using your sand paddles on the street you better have those bolts Loctited up.

The lights got turned on and the procession just kept going.

I told you, there is something for everyone.

As the cars thinned out the party shifted into the SEMA Ignited parking lot.

Where Jarod Deanda kicked off the awards.

Michael Essa shredded some rubber.

The Red Bull F1 team tried to steal the show but it was the old blokes out the back that had it locked down.

Fresh from the Californian Hot Rod Reunion I got to fill my nostrils and ears once again with the sweet sounds and smells of Nitro.

And in true Vegas style the party went into the night and just like that SEMA 2017 was over.

I know this post hasn’t done the event justice but I struggle to see how you can cover something like this, with over 2,400 exhibitors, thousands of cars and trucks, displays and products it’s just an assault on everything you have ever known.

You have to do it at least once in your life.