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SEMA Organizers Say on With the Show, While Skeptics Are Unsure

SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Market Association. They hold an annual show in Las Vegas that is huge. Most companies in the automotive aftermarket segment have either been there, or want to be there for each event, or have at least heard about it. The SEMA show is a big deal. There are thousands of cars, 2400 vendors, and hundreds of thousands of people scattered through the Las Vegas convention center for a multi-day event that is both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, the finals of the Battle of the Builders television show is filmed during the spectacle. COVID-19 called into question whether this year’s event would happen.

A gold custom Jaguar E-type sits on the SEMA showfloor
A Jaguar E-type created by noted builder Chip Foose for the 2019 SEMA show | Hagerty

SEMA is monitoring the pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of car shows to postpone or cancel their events this year. The pandemic has affected small shows and large shows alike. So, the remaining shows on the calendar, regardless of size, have all been watching regional gathering restrictions from local governments to see if they will be lifted in time for their shows. The SEMA organization is no different.

A blue custom Camaro sits on the show floor at the SEMA show
2018 SEMA Gran Tourismo Award Winning Camaro | Hagerty

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Shows like SEMA are not something that can be put on at a moment’s notice. Vendors sometimes sign up years in advance. Builders organize their entire project schedules for the year in order to have products ready for the show. Also, months in advance, companies shipping equipment or vehicles make arrangements with transport companies. Even small companies can easily spend $50,000 just in the preparation to get themselves and their equipment to the show. So, SEMA vendors want to know well in advance if the show will happen. Finally, in the case of this year’s show, in particular, anybody that is coming wants to know that they will be safe.

This year’s show

For this year’s show, it is anticipated that two common questions people will be asking of the SEMA organizers are, Is the show going to happen? And, What is SEMA doing to ensure people are safe at the show from the coronavirus influence.

2018 LGE-CTS Motorsports SEMA Ford Expedition
2018 LGE-CTS Motorsports SEMA Ford Expedition | Bring a Trailer

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What SEMA organizers say

Well, SEMA took a shot at the first question to put people’s minds at ease. On their website, the following information is shared,

“Plans for the November SEMA Show continue to move forward as scheduled. All exhibitor milestone dates for applications, deposits, and space allocation remain intact. As news about COVID-19 continues to evolve and alter our daily lives, we wanted to keep you up-to-date about the SEMA Show and how the event is being impacted. At this time, the Show and the Priority Booth Selection Process are set to take place as scheduled.”

The website information continues,

“We are committed to providing the industry with a trade show where they can do business in a safe and secure environment. We will continue to monitor developments and will make updates as necessary. Exhibitors will be able to cancel and receive a full 100% refund on their booth space up until Sept. 1.”

There it is. The show will go on. But, they are monitoring the situation and will make sure to inform people along the way.

Skepticism is natural

Humans are uncomfortable with the unknown. The world does not really know how this pandemic thing is going to work out. So, naturally, some are feeling skeptical about the show happening this year (November 3-6). The SEMA folks don’t either how things will be in November either. So, they are doing what they can to stay informed and to inform those that want to come.

Just like anything else, the automotive world adjusts and moves on. World wars, earthquakes, and other calamities do not stop people’s passion for the auto industry. Those things, however, precipitate adjustments in planning. If adjustments are needed, then adjustments will be made. That is all anybody can expect at this stage. But, I’m putting my request in for SEMA tickets. I just hope the medical community has a vaccine by then. If not, the tickets may sit on my desk unused. I will just catch another show when it is safe. Car passion does not stop.