As always, SEMA did not disappoint this year. Like last year, we closed the shop two weekdays just to go. We also got a lot of questions about SEMA and I also saw a post on Facebook that said something like "Am I the only car enthusiast who doesn't care about SEMA?" So I realize that not everyone knows what SEMA is about (because if you have the slightest interest in cars, you should want to go). So before I get into the specifics of our trip, I thought I'd write a little more about the convention. But in summary, SEMA is so much fun because: 1) You get to be in Vegas during the week, 2) You get to talk and listen to industry leaders, vendors, celebrities 3) You get to grab or win free crap or buy cool tools with SEMA discounts, 4) You get to see beautiful and not-so-beautiful cars, and 5) Vegas buffets.
Registration: NOT open to the public
One of the facts that most people are completely unaware of was that the convention is NOT open to the general public. You must work in the automotive industry to register, but you can also register a "spouse." When you sign up, you are required to submit proof via pay stubs, business cards, business license or permits, etc. While I'm sure people find ways to get around this just to attend the largest automotive convention ever, majority of the people who attend are there strictly for business.
Food & Drinks
There are food trucks and stations everywhere! All of the buildings either had food stations or restaurants/cafeterias. Also, the outdoor sections had plenty of food trucks. There are also places to buy cocktails and beer. Because this is a trade show where a lot of people are dressed in business casual attire, no one gets drunk and rowdy....it's just not that kind of event (thank god). One thing to note is that seating is very limited near the food stations.
The Las Vegas Convention Center is huge and SEMA does not waste any space. There are five main indoor sections, and also a very large outdoor section. The entire convention is four days, but we only go for two days (it is hard to close the shop any longer!). Two days is still not enough to really cover all grounds but being the small fish that we are, we go just for fun rather than business, so two days is plenty.
Last year, we stayed at Circus Circus. We wanted to be on the strip but also close to the convention center. The walk wasn't bad and took about 20 mins. However, the hotel has seen better days. Rooms were not that clean. Having the casino as well as the restaurants/food in the hotel was nice though. We also went on the roller coasters so that was fun. But the condition of the rooms were enough to never stay there again.
This year, we stayed even closer to SEMA. We rented a timeshare at Hilton Grand Vacations on Paradise via Airbnb. There were 7 of us (5 TS + significant others). The suite was NOICE! Two bedrooms, two baths, jacuzzi tub, living room, full kitchen and dining table. It was incredibly clean and also spacious. Maid service was available upon request, towels and toiletries stocked. Amenities included pool and a cafe with food, drinks, alcohol, and basic groceries. It was also a 10 min walk to the convention center! The only downside (which is a pretty big one for us) was it wasn't on the strip nor did it have a casino/restaurants. That's usually not a deal-breaker, however, that meant you can't just go down to do things when people in your group are still sleeping. It was 10 mins from the monorail though, which takes you to pretty much every part of the strip.
At the convention, we spent the first day browsing all the booths and going through all the buildings. Usually, we just like to briefly go through everything so that we at least cover all grounds once. Day two is when we really get to business....the tools section. Obviously, all of our techs enjoyed the Tools & Equipment section the most and we spent a whole day going through every single aisle in that building. The larger vendors ALWAYS have freebies, it's almost a MUST. Most of them give out reusable bags. Others give pens, magnets, gloves, keychains, lanyards, candy, etc.
Victoria Bends a Pipe
We have Huth's pipe expander but this bender is amazing.
Look what I did:
Son Welds at the Miller Booth
For the 2nd year in a row, Jon was too shy to weld at the Miller booth. Son had no problem. He was able to use their Dynasty 350 TIG Welder and didn't do too bad! Jon spent a considerable amount of time talking to to wonderful Miller employees and gained a ton of useful information.
The best part is when they have games to win tools! Last year, OTC had a competition where they give you a car and the problem it is having and you use their scan tool to diagnose the issue. Jon won 3rd place overall in the show and won some cool stuff! See our old blog post on last year's SEMA. This year, OTC had it's own booths (which didn't have to be manned by an employee) where you can be assigned a car and problem and then diagnose the issue. This year proved to be a little bit harder, as none of our techs (including Jon and also including Herb who got a Nissan as his car) got the correct answer. Womp womp.
Jon & Son do the Pit Crew Challenge
BF Goodrich had a Pit Crew Challenge....of course we had to participate.
Unfortunately, they didn't win. Their time was 1:02, which was faster than most but not fast enough, as the winner of the day got a 52 second session.
Son visits one of his Sponsors, SSR
Victoria Changes a Tire without using Hands
Not sure what the issue is with changing tires, it is easy peasy! We love our Hunter alignment machine so much so it'd be REALLY nice to have a Hunter tire mounting machine as well as their tire balancer. They were giving away a tire balancer to the winner of their social media post contest. Not sure how to find out if we won, but I'm guessing I would've known by now if we did :(
UPDATE 11/21/2016: WE WON THE TIRE BALANCER!!!!
Misc Car Photos
Victoria & Big Things
On the last day of the convention, during the last hours, SEMA hosts its official afterparty called SEMA Ignited. All of the cars drive out to another nearby lot and basically have another "show," except this is open to the general public (there are admission fees). If you went to SEMA Convention, you've seen all these cars already. Last year, we didn't go to Ignited and same for this year. But we did stick around to watch some of the cars drive from SEMA to SEMA Ignited. I was video taping most of it and then is just got boring.
Other notable memories
Waiting for our flight, we got lunch at MGM Foodcourt. Grace put her iPhone on the tray and forgot it was there. One of the cleaning ladies asked if she was done eating and took the tray and threw away everything, including her phone. Grace didn't realize this until later. We rushed back and the cleaning ladies were so nice, they helped us look through the trash! We also tracked the phone down on Son's phone and watched as it moved around (later found out it was moving because the trash was being taken out). They took us to the back where they put all the trash and we went dumpster diving.
Son experiences first-hand what we've been telling him all this time: that rubiks cube is a babe magnet. He had it out on the plane and all of a sudden, this babe comes out of nowhere and is drawn to it:
We ate at two buffets: Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace and the Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan.