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A Brief History of SEMA and Who Can Attend

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Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Edition
Chevy premiered the Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition at SEMA 2017

Starting tomorrow, automotive journalists and industry experts will attend the Specialty Equipment Market Association show at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada. At SEMA, vehicle and parts manufacturers have the opportunity to showcase innovative new products and concepts while speaking with other companies and auto authorities. This year’s show looks to be especially exciting, with a handful of celebrity guests and a bevy of special events and educational seminars.

A brief history of SEMA

The illustrious history of SEMA begins in 1967 when the event was originally referred to as the Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association. However, due to concerns about government regulations and the overall image of the group, the name was changed to vaguely reflect specialty parts instead. The first event was held in the basement of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles where 3,000 people attended. It wasn’t until 1974 that the event moved to Anaheim Stadium to accommodate more attendees, and not long after, made its way to the Anaheim Convention Center across from Disneyland.

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The move to Las Vegas occurred in 1977 after organizers had to turn down manufacturers in the previous year due to lack of space. Moving to Sin City also allowed for more predictable weather conditions. Over time, SEMA became known for catering to industry experts rather than everyday consumers, and was considered a place where business was managed. However, although it was a professional event, entertainment has always been a major part of SEMA. While the Doris Herbert Drag News party was a must-attend event for some time, the SEMA Awards Banquet became the place to be due to big-name musical acts performing.

2017 SEMA Chevrolet Luke Bryan Suburban
This special edition Luke Bryan Suburban concept also made its debut at SEMA

Who can attend?

As mentioned previously, SEMA is now a trade-only industry event. It’s unfortunately not open to the general public, but if you work for a company that’s qualified to attend, you may be able to get access on the SEMA website. The typical list of businesses that attend SEMA include restoration specialists, major automotive brands, aftermarket manufacturers, car dealers, and specialty equipment distributors and installers. While it’s not required that attendees be SEMA Members, those who are do get certain privileges and benefits while at the show.

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SEMA 2019 will occur Nov. 5 – 8 in Las Vegas. Here at The News Wheel, we’ll be staying up-to-date on the latest news from major car brands and reporting on all the exciting happenings at the event.