Ahhh SEMA, that once a year excuse to go to Vegas that has nearly everyone in the automotive industry working overtime for weeks. The paint on some of the cars is only days old when they show up at the convention center, and the whole place is buzzing with news of all the new things happening in 2012.
I landed in Vegas at 8am and went straight to the convention center. After I picked up my credential at the media center I spotted Larry and the gang. Larry didn’t see me even though I was less than five feet away. Maybe it was because I was wearing a suit.
I walked downstairs and was greeted by this ALMS M3. I love GT cars. They’re built similarly to Formula D cars in that they’re basically just modified production cars, just with a different rulebook.
Next I found an old Chevy, complete with rust and awesome. I’d rock this car for sure.
The Factory Five GTM is one of those cars that can either look amazing or hideous.
The C6R’s gave Luke a lot of inspiration for his Formula D Corvette. This one is stickered up for the actual 24 Heures Du Mans.
The Spectre streamliner is powered by a Cadillac V8 force-fed by this thirsty turbo. It fell short of a record at Bonneville this year, but the team will be back on the salt to try again in 2012.
Just next door was a car that did break a record. Monster Tajima smashed his previous Pike’s Peak record of 10:01.408 with a 9:51.278 in his Suzuki SX4.
Formula D Rookie of the Year doesn’t mean you don’t have to work anymore. Odi Bakchis was helping set up the Forged Racing booth and showing off his S14.
I walked over to the Hilton to meet up with Geoff and pick up my new Life Blasters business cards. The view of downtown Vegas from his hotel room wasn’t bad!
Back at the show, we ran into a Mazda ALMS P1 prototype. It even has a plywood front undertray.
This Model T has two engines! They’re both connected to the transmission with a belt and one of them powers a blender.
Ken Block always has a strong presence at SEMA. This time he had his Gymkhana Ford Fiesta on display.
There’s been so much hype about the Rauh-Welt Porsches that I had to shoot them. This one’s white. Haha.
Mark Arcenal’s is green.
Corey Hosford will be making his Formula D debut in 2012 in this 350Z.
I can’t leave the GT2 cars alone. I think Falken likes the number 17 as much as I do, seeing as they have two cars with that number: this ALMS Porsche and the Formula D 350Z formerly driven by Tyler McQuarrie.
Outside we found Jarod announcing for Ford out Front, where Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and some other drivers were entertaining the crowd.
Not many things are cooler than doing donuts around monster trucks.
Luke’s Vette was on display at the Hankook big rig. Fancy.
This guy was Shreeving out under a tree, shoe halfway off and everything. I can’t say I blame him. SEMA makes you TIRED.
Back at the Hilton for lunch I found the Conrad Room. I didn’t know Conrad was that famous.
At the show again, Matt Field was hanging out in the ACT booth.
And this guy had his work shirt on.
I finally found the Wheel and Tire hall and the Hankook booth, complete with Conrad’s Camaro and some lovely models.
Paul was happy to see me, I think.
I hung out with Elysha Lee for a while. At least 6 million people took photos of her and this Bentley GT.
Fredric Aasbø was happy to see me too, and that was the end of Day 1.
The next day I went back for more. The storm chaser is a pretty ridiculous car/truck/tank.
Over at the Formula D press conference Andy and Luke were chilling, waiting for it to start.
Chris was waiting too.
Finally the conference started. Jim Liaw talked about how awesome Formula D has gotten and went over the schedule for 2012. There were no dates for the Middle East or Asia yet, but the US series schedule is finished:
April 6-7 Long Beach
May 11-12 Atlanta
June 1-2 Palm Beach
June 22-23 Wall
July 20-21 Evergreen
August 24-25 Vegas
October 12-13 Irwindale
It’s basically the same schedule as this year, without the addition of an eighth round at Circuit of the Americas as was the rumor.
After the conference, Dai was swamped with interviews.
After that I went over to the AAPEX show for a meeting. They don’t allow photography in there unfortunately. Next was a stop at LVMS for the nightly U-Drift event so Luke could teach his girlfriend Melissa how to drift. The boys at Nellis were active.
The F-15’s were doing touch and goes or something.
Either way it was a good show to watch while waiting for U-Drift to get underway. More on that later!