In hindsight, it really seems like an obvious thing to do. But it’s been only three years since the SEMA show struck upon what may have become the single most popular event within the event: the drive-out. Yes, the act of cars leaving a building is now a thing as far as entertainment goes.
But it’s easy to understand why once you know the context.
These aren’t ordinary cars. That’s due to the focus of the event that hosts it: to showcase the goods and services that people offer in the automotive industry. What better way to showcase the creativity and adaptability of an industry than to admit items that bear that kind of creativity and adaptability?
That, in part, turned what’s supposed to be a straight trade show into an entertainment free-for-all. Never mind the parties and the celebrities and the neat parts on display; the vehicles of SEMA really do steal the show.
But the show itself isn’t exactly the best way to see the vehicles showcased therein. First, you gotta have a badge. Which means you gotta have contacts or be in the automotive industry. And not everybody does or is (thank goodness, because the place is packed as it is). This brings up the other shortcoming to seeing the cars in the show: you gotta fight the crowds. Seriously, if you want to take a photo of something as big as a vehicle, expect to get there when the doors open or while a security guard shoos you from the property as those doors close. Because you ain’t gettin’ a clear shot of anything bigger than the bottle of aspirin you’ll need because your feet hate you. And finally, whether it’s a high-end Pro Touring Camaro, Chevelle, Nova, or Pro Street Tri-Five, all muscle cars and hot rods look best in their proper environment, which is driving on asphalt, not sitting on carpet.
The only problems with the SEMA drive-out are A) you have to be there, which is dumb if you aren’t local or don’t have tickets already (which is pretty much everybody) and B) you still have to fight the crowds. So we used our editorial privilege to secure a special pass to get us on the good side of the barrier. The following is what it looked like.
Photos by Chris Shelton