With a successful week at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas under our belts, it’s time to reflect. By now, you’ve probably seen photos of all of the hottest new cars and products at SEMA and you’ve already read the snoozefest rundowns on each, so instead of boring you with more of the same, what I’ll share is a an inside look at the GrimmSpeed team’s trip to the Sin City. Alex (purchasing), Chase (engineering) and I put in a long day on Monday before catching a 9:10pm flight out of town. It’s an interesting demographic, the folks that fly a budget airline out of Minneapolis for Vegas on a Monday night, but that’s a story for another time. We arrived at the MGM at around 11:00pm local time, just in time to witness the slow deterioration of class and dignity while we checked in. Alarms were buzzing bright and early and we caught the first monorail out to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Arriving to the show two hours before it opened actually offered an eerily peaceful introduction to what would soon become a complete madhouse. The outside show areas are open much earlier than the main halls and aside from those tending to their booths and wiping down cars, we had the show to ourselves. Highlights included the entire fleet of Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge competitors, an up-close look at Ryan Tuerck’s 2JZ FRS Drift Car and poking around JC Meynet’s 2006 STI Time Attack Monster. Tuesday’s early morning focal points were definitely of the purpose-built, badmammajamma variety.
The remainder of Tuesday and Wednesday was spent primarily in educational/informational sessions, discussion forums and speakers. Among those we had the pleasure of hearing from were Cleo Shelby (racing legend Carol Shelby’s wife), Wilfried Eibach (chairman of the Eibach Group), Jamie Allison (director of Ford Racing) and Gene Stefanyshyn (vice president of innovation and racing development for NASCAR). To hear from people with such great passion for our industry and interest in the direction that it’s headed is both inspirational and exciting. The passing time between sessions was filled with quick jaunts in and out of the various halls, trying to get a taste for what each had to offer and an idea of where our time on Thursday and Friday would be best spent.
Knowing we were in for a long week, we did our best to fight the urge to storm the halls like mad men after sessions for the day had ended and worked even harder to avoid succumbing to the neon-infested temptation that is the Vegas Strip after dark. Despite our greatest efforts, we did find the energy to swing through the Formula Drift 10th Anniversay party on Tuesday and spent Wednesday night exploring downtown Vegas. If you’ve never been to Vegas (and I hadn’t), Fremont Street downtown is definitely worth the $2 bus fare. I loved the more relaxed atmosphere, cheap drinks and street magicians.
Part 2 will include many more photos from the show floor, a recap of the Global Rally Cross season finale and a biased summary of some of our favorite cars and products, so stay tuned.