Taking a glimpse in to the future at AAPEX & SEMA 2019
When October comes around I am already starting to gear up for the holidays. The holidays are my favorite time of year and knowing that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas (let’s not forget New Year’s either) are all back to back holidays and parties is what makes it so awesome. Every one of those holidays are different and the feeling to each of them is unique. I have to admit it is kind of weird though. It used to be the month of, but now you start to see holiday decorations and merchandise far out in advance of the holidays. I’ve seen Halloween decorations as early as August. August! I mean, come on, that’s getting out of hand. I started seeing Valentine’s Day merch as early as New Year’s as well. While I sure do love the holidays it does feel like they come too soon and leave even earlier. But, while those four holidays are awesome (I’m already counting down to when they come back again), there is one other that I like to consider. It’s the only time of year that I take off for vacation and go on the road. In fact, it just passed and was the best one we had been to. While it might not be considered a holiday in any else’s books, to me, it is definitely one of my favorites. Yeah, I’m talking about the SEMA Show.
If you’re wondering what the hell I’m even talking about, and why I would even consider a show a holiday, let me explain. SEMA is a show that our media team looks forward to going to every year. This year marked the fifth time that I would be going to SEMA (and subsequently this would include going to the AAPEX Show as well). This show is one of the few that we check out on the road and one of the only ones that we go together for. It’s the only time of year that we stop everything we are doing and head out to Vegas to cover. If it was just Vegas, I would probably be going anyways. But, because it’s AAPEX and SEMA it makes it that much more special. I’m a huge gearhead and while I have become accustomed to seeing cars in nearly every flavor (a product of living in Southern California), that all goes out the door going to these shows. This show is the hub where all companies, large and small, come together to show off their newest OEM, aftermarket and specialty products for cars and vehicles. It’s a golden place where any gearhead can appreciate and enjoy the new stuff coming out, as well as all of the hard work that has gone in to some of the (car) builds there. And, if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of car personalities and enthusiasts every where to get to know. I’m all about this, and had always wondered what it was going to be like if I ever had the chance to check out SEMA. Thankfully, after years of applying, I was finally able to see what it was like for myself. Let’s just say, it was all that I imagined it to be and more.
This show is four days of action-packed excitement and personalities all crammed in to one place, and in Vegas no less. I already love it for the cars and to see what some of the newest trends and products are going to be in the coming years. We were lucky enough to listen in on some speakers and came away with some valuable knowledge. This year was busier than it normally was for us, but, we were able to cram as much in as we could. Even with the three days that we were there this time, it still wasn’t enough time for us to see everything that the two shows had to offer. We definitely tried though. AAPEX allowed us to speak with some of the lubricant companies (most notably LIQUI MOLY) as well as a few other part manufacturers. The people that we got to meet there (which is always the best part of the show), were very informative and allowed us to anticipate some of the products coming out in 2020. Chatting with driver Bill Auberlen was one of the highlights of the show for us. Not only did we get some great info on the BMW and Liqui Moly connection but we got some insight as to how his racing career was going. Having his car there at the booth as well was a real treat. This wasn’t the only booth where we had a chance to learn about new products. It wasn’t all business however, as we were also able to grab a few brews at one of the vendor booths. Not a bad way to kick into gear in the morning.
In fact, this show was special in that, not only did I go with Brandon and Gee, but, we brought out our newest photographer Cassidy and writer Angel. They had both covered some stuff for us in the past, but, this time around they were going to be with us a the two shows. Neither of them had been to AAPEX or SEMA before (and that is pretty crazy considering nearly everyone on our team has been there before) and this was the perfect opportunity to see what they thought and the coverage that they would come back with. It only took about an hour for me to lose them on that first day, but, when I did find them I noticed that they were soaking up the scenery. AAPEX and SEMA are both shows that are larger than life, and it’s not every day that you get to see what you get to see. So, I wasn’t surprised when I found them taking pics and chatting away with many of the other guests at the show. We posted the article that the two of them put together a while back. You can read that here. I appreciated that article because it brought some new perspective to the show that is often ignored. I think after seeing hundreds of some of the finest vehicles in America it’s easy to ignore all of the craftsmanship that goes into some of the booths and vehicles. Angel gave me some insight in to one of the sweetest rides that we came across during our time at the show. I had always wanted to know the story on some of the cars at the show (and believe me, every car there has its own story), and learning about the Golden Sahara (one of the craziest cars that we had come across this year) was great.
One of my favorite parts of SEMA/AAPEX is getting to see some of our friends. We have a number of team members on Team Spektrum and it never comes as a surprise to us when we come across them at the show. This year we found a few of our lovely members at different booths. Just like the last few years our OG members Hanna and Sam were there. It’s always nice to come across those two. They have been on our team for a few years now, and it doesn’t matter where we see them, we’ve always been excited to see them. We also saw Jacey (in the wheels and tires section of the show), who always manages to make me laugh. If you’ve never met Jacey then you’re missing out. Not only is she stunningly beautiful but she’s one of the funniest people I know. If she were to ever pursue a career in comedy I wouldn’t surprised in the least. We also came across Cara. This was the first time that Cara had ever been to SEMA and it was obvious that she was having a blast. She looked beautiful as always and her meeting with Angel and Cassidy was awesome. Any time we can bring people together is a good day for us. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to get together after the show like we normally do. For models especially, SEMA tends to take a toll on their energy levels. Nearly everyone we know seems to be ready to hit the bed even before the show has let out. But, either way, it was nice getting to catch up and see our Spektrum fam yet again. Let’s hope that trend continues the next time around when we have our own booth. A hint of things to come? Maybe.. I’ll just leave that little nugget of info there for you guys to chew on.
The funny thing is that while the show days are long (we try to cover the show as much as we can, and get you the best around), we all realize that the show is only one part of the whole AAPEX/SEMA experience. The day doesn’t end when the sun goes down. In fact, it is just getting started. When the sun goes down and the moon comes out, the people of the desert come out to play. Vegas has a lot to offer and while gambling isn’t my thing, it’s hard to ignore all of the craziness going on everywhere. It’s the only place that I can say that I’ve walked down the strip and had an awesome meal at a buffet, walked around with a drink in my hand and been handcuffed by a sexy looking officer all in one night. It’s definitely a place where many pleasures can be had not just along the strip but throughout the city as well. I have to admit though, that I was a little sad that the shows didn’t line up with Halloween this year. For whatever reason, the shows were both pushed back to the week after Halloween and we weren’t able to experience both at the same time. It was still fun to check out no doubt, but, it felt like something was missing. It’s not SEMA/AAPEX until you see a turbo’d Lamborghini on the street and someone dressed as Spiderman on the sidewalk. This is one reason why this show feels like a separate entity. It feels like a whole new holiday that I wouldn’t have normally got to experience otherwise.
The show this time around was just as exciting as it had been in years past. If I could I would share every picture and story that we had during our time at these shows, but then again this article would be a lot longer than it is now. But, the photos and videos down below highlight just some of the excitement that we experienced in 2019. How will this compare to the next show? Well, if the track record is anything like it’s been, we are sure to be in for a treat. This show had almost too much going for it and we are very excited for next year. I know as we were leaving on that first day we noticed a new building being constructed. SEMA and AAPEX have already outgrown their respective locations and It was obvious that they were going to have to expand. I can totally see that new building expanding upon the ever-growing show. Let’s see what happens. Maybe my once-a-year trip can last for more than a few days this next go-around. Either way, enjoy just a taste of some of the sights and sounds of the best automotive show of the year.
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
Additional Photos by Cassidy K and Angel Muñoz
Videography and editing by Brandon Grimes
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.