Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) of the automobile aftermarket was formed in 1963 by Roy Richter, Ed Iskenderian, Els Lohn, Willie Garner, Bob Hedman, Robert E. Wyman, John Bartlett, Phil Weiand Jr, Al Segal, Dean Moon, and Vic Edelbrock Jr. and now consists of 6,383 companies worldwide, bringing together aftermarket manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), media, car dealers, specialty equipment distributors, installers, retailers and restoration specialists.[citation needed]

Specialty Equipment Market Association
Formation1963; 60 years ago (1963)
HeadquartersUnited States of America

The largest of the SEMA events held annually during the first week of November is the SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada in conjunction with the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week.[1][2] As part of this event, SEMA and other automotive aftermarket trade groups make up one of the single largest events on the Las Vegas calendar.[3] This auto show is not open to the public. Registration as media, manufacturer, buyer or exhibitor is required.[4]

On August 5th, 2020, SEMA announced that its 2020 show would be cancelled for the first time in the show's history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The 2008 SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center

The SEMA acronym originally stood for Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association.[5] In 1970, government regulations became an issue and the name was changed to Specialty Equipment Market Association to improve the overall image of the association.[citation needed][5] It was also warned that bureaucrats in the industry may be turned off by the word "speed," which Corporate Council Earl Kitner felt they may associate with "the swinging generation."[5] SEMA came about as a result of the company Revell Models attempting to fill a gap in industry trade regulation.[5] Its first president was Ed Iskenderian.[5] Other original members of the organization include Roy Richter, Willie Garner, Bob Hedman, Robert E. Wyman, Paul Schiefer, John Bartlett, Phil Weiand Jr., Al Segal, Dean Moon, and Vic Edelbrock Jr.[citation needed]

Founding members of SEMA

Company Founder
Ansen Automotive Engineering Louie Senter
B&M Automotive Products Bob Spar
Cragar Industries Inc. Roy Richter
Eelco Manufacturing & Supply Els Lohn
Grant Industries John Bartlett
Ed Iskenderian Racing Cams Ed Iskenderian
Milodon Engineering Don Alderson
Moon Equipment Company Dean Moon
Schiefer Manufacturing Paul Schiefer
Trans Dapt Willie Garner
Weber Speed Equipment Harry Weber
Weiand Power & Racing Phil Weiand
Dempsey Wilson Racing Cams Dempsey Wilson

SEMA ShowEdit

The exhibit hall of the 2009 SEMA Show.

The SEMA Show is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.[6] It is among the largest conventions held in Vegas. The 2013 SEMA Show drew about 60,000 buyers.[7] The displays are segmented into 12 sections, and a New Products Showcase features nearly 2,000 newly introduced parts, tools and components. In addition, the SEMA Show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more.

The first SEMA Show was held in 1967 in the basement of the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, before moving to the new Anaheim Stadium in 1974. In 1967 they had 98 manufacturers manning booths and an attendance of 3,000 people. In 1967 there were 5 cars on display, including a 1967 Ford GT40 in the Shelby America booth and a drag-race-prepped Dodge Dart.[8] The early shows, held in Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, were exclusively card-table-and-masking-tape affairs,[vague] but by the early 1970s, sophisticated display and marketing techniques were visible throughout the show.[citation needed] At that time, a Show booth cost $375. The Show moved to a different location—the new and expansive Anaheim Convention Center (across from Disneyland). Booth sales and attendance kept increasing dramatically. The SEMA Show continued to cater to the needs of industry representatives rather than consumers and began to develop a reputation as a place where business was expected and completed. As part of the ’70s SEMA Shows, one of the must-attend events was Doris Herbert's Drag News party, which was topped only by the SEMA Awards Banquet.

In 1975, the featured entertainers for the Awards Banquet were April Stevens and Nino Tempo. In 1976 (the last SEMA Show to be held in Anaheim), the show was a sellout with 570 booths and, in fact, had to turn away a number of manufacturers due to lack of space. Over the next few years, the Show grew much larger and soon filled the Convention Center to capacity and was moved to Las Vegas in 1977. Las Vegas was chosen because it provided room for continued growth, dependable weather, big-name entertainment and a world-famous location.

In 1977, SEMA's Awards Banquet (run by Sheldon Konblett) was held at the Sands Hotel and featured Norm Crosby. Sheldon Konblett also developed the design for the SEMA trophies, which have come to symbolize product innovation and excellence in the industry.

In 1979, Nile Cornelison began plans for his Innovations Day seminars program, which has since become one of the major annual association programs. The following year, Innovations Day was a smashing success and featured Lee Iacocca as the keynote speaker. Never before had any activity held on the day prior to the Show's opening attracted anything near the more than 460 who attended. That same year, Willie Nelson was the featured entertainer for the SEMA Awards Banquet.

In 1983, the import parts section of the SEMA Show was added under the auspices of sister organization, Automotive International Association, thus changing the name to SEMA/AI Show. In 1984, there was a combined SEMA/AI/APAA Show in Las Vegas. The Industry Awards Banquet was held at the MGM Grand, and the entertainment was provided by The Platters and Gallagher. By all indications, the move to Las Vegas has been an overwhelming success. In 1986, Car and Driver magazine noted that the Show was a “...prime opportunity to monitor the West Coast car culture without breathing the smog or fighting the freeways.” That same year, Jay Leno made his first appearance on stage at the SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet.

In 1990, the onsite registration fee was increased to $20. All exhibitors are eligible to submit an entry into the New Products Showcase at no cost. In 1992, the SEMA/AI Show and the Automotive Service Industry, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and Automotive Parts & Accessories Association (ASIA/MEMA/APAA Show—formerly the Big I/APAA Show) came together to form Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) in Las Vegas. The two shows together boasted in excess of 1.6 million square feet of exhibits.

In 1997, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaters (NTDRA) trade show was combined with the SEMA Show. Affiliating the 77-year-old NTDRA trade show with the SEMA portion of AAIW provided benefits to both sides. In the same year, Goodyear sponsored the first SEMA-NTDRA “Racers’ Night Out” at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In 1998, the SEMA Show broke the 500,000-foot mark with 502,912 net square feet of rented space. Each year since then, the Show has set new records of some sort. It now occupies more than one million net square feet, draws more than 3,000 media, and has a buyer attendance in excess of 60,000. The SEMA Show now routinely brings together more than 2,300 exhibitors, occupying in excess of 11,000 booths. Total attendance at the Show now tops 150,000 manufacturers, buyers and other industry representatives, making contacts and doing business.[9]












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Concept on 4x4 by SG Concepts






SEMA awardsEdit

Since 2003, the GT awards have been presented at the SEMA Auto Convention, and these include categories such as Best in Show, Best Hot Rod, and Best European Import.[61][62][63] SEMA was also presented with the Grassroots Motorsports Editors' Choice Award in 2012.[64]

SEMA Action NetworkEdit

Since 1997, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) has been a grassroots network for the automotive hobby.[65][66] The SEMA Action Network is a partnership between enthusiasts, vehicle clubs and members of the specialty automotive parts industry in the United States and Canada who have collaborated to promote automotive hobby-friendly legislation and laws.[66]

In the past, the SAN has:

  • Promoted street rod and custom vehicle (including kit cars and replicas) registration and titling laws in over 20 states[67]
  • Assisted in protecting classic vehicles waiting to be restored from confiscation on private property[68]
  • Defended legal off-road nitrous oxide use with SAN model legislation[69]
  • Defended enthusiast's right to use aftermarket exhaust systems[citation needed]
  • Opposed “Cash for Clunkers” legislation[70]
  • Promoted legislation to lower taxes and fees for hobbyist vehicles[citation needed]
  • Advocated to ensure public lands remain open to responsible off-road recreation[71]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "SEMA Show Attracts 140,000-plus Attendees to Las Vegas Convention Center". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  2. ^ "Four of Las Vegas' Largest Trade Shows Return in 2015/2016 to Las Vegas Convention Center". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "SEMA Show Cars to Make Public Parade in Sin City". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  4. ^ "Registration Information". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Candland, Sherri (October 28, 2013). "Utah businesses head to Las Vegas for 2013 SEMA Show". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  6. ^ "The 2013 SEMA Show".
  7. ^ Vaughn, Mark (November 12, 2012). "Why SEMA Matters". Autoweek. 62 (23): 10. ISSN 0192-9674.
  8. ^ "1967 SEMA Show Gallery: Take a Look Back at the First SEMA Show". Archived from the original on October 29, 2013.
  9. ^ "The Specialty-Equipment Industry and the SEMA Show". Archived from the original on October 29, 2013.
  10. ^ "Chevrolet Camaro GTZ Concept".
  11. ^ "The wild and crazy creations of Jon Moss". Archived from the original on April 29, 2013.
  12. ^ "Chevy rolls out extendible bed, low rider trucks at sema show". December 13, 2005.
  13. ^ "The Long And Short Of Chevy Concepts".
  14. ^ "1997 SVE Mustang Super Stallion Concept".
  15. ^ "SCC Magazine Project Eclipse: Final".
  16. ^ "A Sport-utility Vehicle".
  17. ^ "SVE Mercury Cougar Eliminator".
  18. ^ "C5 Chevy Corvette Cavallo GT: Screamin' Yellow Zonker". February 2002.
  19. ^ "1999 Chevrolet Tandem 2000".
  20. ^ "SEMA '99".
  21. ^ "Ford Motor Company focuses on aftermarket".
  22. ^ "Company History".
  23. ^ "3 Unconventional Cars From Olds".
  24. ^ "The Buick Park Avenue Ultra Concept/Show Car".
  25. ^ "2000 SEMA Show".
  27. ^ "Carry-all Concept".
  28. ^ "2000 SEMA Show: Modified PT Cruisers".
  30. ^ "GMC Recon: Innovation That Exceeds Expectation".
  32. ^ "GM, Ford unveil biggest and fastest pickups at SEMA".
  33. ^ "AutoWeek looks at SEMA 2000". November 5, 2000.
  34. ^ "Honda and Acura Vehicles on Display at 2001 SEMA ShowSeason".
  35. ^ "2001 SEMA Show".
  36. ^ "Ford presenting more than 24 show vehicles at SEMA". October 29, 2001.
  37. ^ "Ford Ranger Back Country "Blast"".
  38. ^ "With Hyundai's Value Advantage, Aftermarket Modifications Have Never Been More Affordable". Archived from the original on June 9, 2015.
  39. ^ "Specialty Equipment Market Association Show 2001 Isuzus".
  40. ^ "2001 SEMA Exhibition".
  41. ^ "2001 SEMA Show". November 2001.
  42. ^ "Nissan to Display Powerful Combination of Products at the 2001 SEMA Show".
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "2002 SEMA Show: Official Pictures".
  44. ^ "Made in the Shade: Oakley's MX Chevrolet Silverado 1500HD Concept Trucks".
  45. ^ "2002 SEMA Photo Gallery".
  46. ^ "2002 SEMA Exhibition".
  47. ^ "2003 SEMA".
  48. ^ "2003 SEMA Show Highlights".
  49. ^ "Mercury Mariner Builds On Design Appeal With SEMA "Urban Edition" Concept".
  50. ^ "2005 SEMA Show Booth Vehicles". Archived from the original on June 8, 2015.
  51. ^ "SEMA 2006 Coverage". Archived from the original on January 16, 2009.
  52. ^ "2006 SEMA Auto Show Photos & Coverage".
  53. ^ "2007 Volvo C30 (Created for Volvo Cars North America)".
  54. ^ "The Volvo Parts, Accessories and Performance Specialists Since 1963".
  55. ^ "Chevy Hits Sema with four Camaro concepts".
  56. ^ a b c d "SEMA Celebrates 50 Years In, um, Style". Autoweek: 8–9. November 25, 2013.
  57. ^ "2013 SEMA Show".
  58. ^ "2013 SEMA Auto Show".
  59. ^ "Music-inspired Kia Souls overload our senses".
  60. ^ "1993 VW Golf "Rallye" Prototype Is A WRC Homologation Special That Never Reached Production". Carscoops. November 4, 2022.
  61. ^ "SEMA Gran Turismo Awards 2010 – Images". Archived from the original on November 8, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  62. ^ "The 7th Annual Gran Turismo Awards at SEMA Coming November 4". October 30, 2009.
  63. ^ "SEMA 2009: Gran Turismo Best in Show is the Trans-Cammer Mustang". Autoblog.
  64. ^ "Grassroots Motorsports | Sports Car Magazine".
  65. ^ "Senate declares 'Collector Car' day". June 18, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  66. ^ a b "SEMA Action Network Streamlines Website to Help You Protect Your Passion". October 26, 2011. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  67. ^ "Not Every Bill Is a Clunker". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  68. ^ "Kansas Anti-Hobbyist Inoperable Vehicle Bill to be Considered by Committee on January 21, 2014". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  69. ^ "Political Events and Actions Threatening the Automotive Hobby: Can They Outlaw Street Machines?". December 2010. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  70. ^ "Updated: No 'clunker' over 25 years old ; program shortened to four month lifespan". HuffPost. June 16, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  71. ^ "SEMA Offers Vital Resources For All Active Off-Road Enthusiasts". October 4, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2015.

External linksEdit