There's something that happens the moment you get off an airplane in Las Vegas. It's like the rules of normalcy no longer apply. There's an energy you feel, even in the airport, that's like nothing else on earth. "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" isn't just a slogan anymore. it's a religious belief, like some sort of 11th Commandment.
As my wise friend Joe Colabelli once told me, "Las Vegas is designed to get you in trouble. If you have a vice, you can indulge it there to the extreme. Eat too much, drink too much, gamble, women … whatever."
Which is probably not exactly why the automotive aftermarket has its trade show there every autumn, but hey, who has a bigger convention center? I just got back from the 2013 edition of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and I am happy to report the industry looks like it's headed for a record-breaking year.
The automotive aftermarket is a $31 billion annual industry and what I love about it is there's little these companies sell that anyone really needs. It's truly a triumph of passion over intellect. Does anyone really need to build a 1,200-horsepower, pump gas street car? Not likely, but we all sure as heck want one! And thanks to the member companies of SEMA (many of whom advertise in this magazine), you can indulge your whims. All you need is cash and a little imagination.
I've been going to SEMA for almost a quarter of a century now and I never get tired of it. My feet might, but I don't. Imagine over one million square feet of automotive nirvana. Row after row of cylinder heads, blocks, transmissions, superchargers, cams, etc. To be certain, not everything here is about hardcore horsepower. Whether you make aftermarket carpeting, replacement sheetmetal, car stereo equipment or radar detectors, you are welcome to display—and I love every square inch of it. Over the last three years, I've walked nearly 100 miles at SEMA—yes, I've measured the distance with a pedometer. My legs ache for nearly a week afterwards, but that's a small price to pay. The vehicles are over the top, the models have better bolt-ons than some of the cars, and as an industry insider I get to see how the business is run, up close and personal.
Elsewhere in this issue, you'll find the hottest new products from the 2013 SEMA Show, and we could have easily added 50 more. At superchevy.com, we have a half-dozen web-exclusive stories you can read about what we did and saw in Las Vegas this past November.