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AutoMatters & More: SEMA SHOW & Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational 2018

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2018 SEMA Show
(Jan Wagner )

The automotive aftermarket is a 43 billion dollar industry. At the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, automotive specialty equipment manufacturers and auto manufacturers debut the newest, most innovative automotive products and technologies.

In 2018, their products were showcased on approximately 1,500 of the most amazing custom automobiles in existence throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, the nearby Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, outside areas and even at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. At the end of the show, many of these vehicles were driven in a parade past bleachers filled with automotive enthusiasts in the eagerly anticipated SEMA Cruise. From there they drove onto the grounds of SEMA Ignited, the exciting SEMA Show afterparty, where show-goers and the public alike were entertained for the evening with driving, a motorcycle stunt show, a vintage dragster “Cackle Fest” and more.

Ford exhibit
Ford exhibit Jan Wagner

The SEMA Show is a four-day, automotive trades-only event that consistently attracts over 160,000 people from more than 140 countries around the world, including 70,000 buyer companies seeking the hottest products to sell in their shops, 3,600 members of the media and 2,400 exhibiting companies.

While some of those companies included major automotive manufacturers, the vast majority were small businesses that are owned and operated by automotive enthusiasts who know, love and understand vehicles inside and out. Together they produce automotive accessories and develop technologies that enhance the performance, styling, comfort, convenience and safety of cars, trucks and SUVs. 400 of these companies exhibited at the SEMA Show for the very first time.

Additionally, attendees could participate in a full slate of educational seminars that focused on business strategies and techniques such as online marketing, customer service, product training and new vehicle technologies; hands-on workshops; networking events; as well as entertainment that included thrilling driving exhibitions and ride-along events, such as drifting.

SEMA Ignited
Drifting at SEMA Ignited Jan Wagner

Just about anything and everything automotive was represented at the SEMA Show, organized by categories. In the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center were Mobile Electronics & Technology, Collision Repair & Refinish, Tools & Equipment, Restyling & Car Care Accessories, and First Time & Featured Exhibitors. Central Hall was the place to be for Racing & Performance, Hot Rod Alley and the Restoration Marketplace. The lower level of South Hall was filled with the Global Tire Expo, and Wheels & Accessories. Upstairs in South Hall were Trucks, SUVs & Off-Road; Powersports & Utility Vehicles; Business Services; and more First-Time & Featured Exhibitors. Nearby upstairs was the New Products Showcase and the Media Center. The Racing Annex and the Performance Pavilion also included First Time & Featured Exhibitors. Plentiful automotive-branded swag, including free T-shirts, hats and more, could be found throughout the SEMA Show.

In the large paved areas directly outside the convention center, high performance rides were given at the Continental Tire Extreme Driving Experience – powered by BMW, Ford Out Front and Kia. One particularly insane driving exhibition was provided by Hoonigan. Other exhibitors outside included Shell, Toyo Tires and Dub. In between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Westgate was Optima Street Car Alley, where there were many of the vehicles that would soon be competing in motorsports events on the weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS).

Nitro Circus
High flying Nitro Circus Live at SEMA Ignited Jan Wagner

Optima Batteries hosted the annual, two-day Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI). The Optima brand includes high-performance automotive, marine and heavy-duty batteries, as well as a line of digital battery chargers that maintain a variety of vehicle batteries, to maximize battery life and performance.

Saturday’s OUSCI events were the Detroit Speed Autocross – held on two mirror-image courses, the Lingenfelter Performance Design & Engineering competition, and the Optima Batteries Road Rally, which ended at a social event at the Shelby Heritage Center and Carroll Shelby Store in Las Vegas.

The Shelby parking lot was filled with competitors’ vehicles. Inside was a collection of Shelby vehicles, as well as a vehicle manufacturing center. After dinner, there was plenty of time to shop in the well-stocked Shelby Store.

The Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational competition concluded on Sunday with the Powerstop Brakes Speed Stop Challenge and the Falken Tire Hot Lap Challenge, which was held on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s roadracing track.

Optima Car
Autocrossing at the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational Jan Wagner

For additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com and enter “AutoMatters & More #572” in their search bar. As always, please send comments and suggestions to AutoMatters@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2018 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #572


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