What Is the SEMA Show?

If you’re excited by things with four wheels and an engine, you might’ve wondered at some point “What is the SEMA show?” Keep reading, because we have everything you need to know about the annual gathering of gearheads right here.

What Does SEMA Stand For?

SEMA stands for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, and the organization dates back to 1963. Then, it was called the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association, and it was a small group of manufacturers that supplied parts and performance equipment to the hot rod community. You might recognize some of the big names: Phil Weiand from Weiand Power & Racing, Roy Richter from Cragar Industries, Bob Spar from B&M Automotive Products, and Harry Weber from Weber Speed Equipment.

Related: See All of MotorTrend’s SEMA Show Coverage!

SEMA has grown to incorporate everything from manufacturers, warehouse distributors, sales agents, and subcontractors, to off-road manufacturers and media outlets. The membership categories even include racing teams, car clubs, and special service organizations. SEMA has become an advocate for our passions, leveraging its voice to maintain our right as enthusiasts to build, modify, and operate vehicles on the track, street, and on the trail.

Can Anyone Go to the SEMA Show?

The SEMA show is held every November in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it is not open to the public. The trade-only event is open to qualified members of the automotive industry. Industry members include buyers and sellers of automotive parts, vehicle manufacturers, aftermarket parts companies, and media outlets.

How Do You Get a Car in the SEMA Show?

If your vehicle is owned or sponsored by an exhibiting company at this year’s SEMA show, then you may apply for a space, but there are rules. First, the application process begins many months ahead of the show, and the vehicle’s owner must provide detailed information including color photographs of the vehicle, its dimensions, as well as a photography release.

SEMA has regulations governing sign and decal placement, noise levels, amount of fuel present in the vehicle’s fuel tank, cleanliness of the vehicle, and relevancy to the industry. Feature vehicle space is also non-transferable.

How Many People Go to the SEMA Show?

The SEMA Show has been known to attract over 150,000 members of the automotive industry. The show occupies over a million square feet within the Las Vegas Convention Center and is packed with 3,000 new products, 1,500 feature vehicles, 2,400 exhibiting companies, and more than 3,000 members of the media.

What Is the Difference Between AAPEX and SEMA?

The SEMA Show and AAPEX often happen concurrently in Las Vegas and are both trade-only events, but how are they different? AAPEX stands for the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo, and the show is generally smaller and more focused on aftermarket products. The SEMA Show is where you’ll likely find rows and rows of feature vehicles, whereas the APEX show is focused more on the industrial side of the automotive industry.

Watch! Get a Taste of the SEMA Show

These highlights from Chevy, Ford, and Mopar at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas will give you a feel for what you’d see at the event.

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