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SEMA Celebrities

When I told Bruce Kaufman that I was going to SEMA, he told me, “Have a good time.” He also gave me an assignment, to interview Richard Wood, who built the Last Lobeck Ford. The “Lobeck Car” was being revealed at the Mecum Auctions booth on opening day. I got to the booth early and introduced myself to Richard and told him of my assignment. After the reveal, I conducted the interview.
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That gave me an idea, I would write about the celebrities that I met and saw during the next four days of SEMA’s 50th Anniversary show. The Las Vegas Convention Center has over 2 million square feet of exhibit room plus hundreds more in the lobby and hallways. Every square foot is accounted for by vendors during the four day event. There is so much to see here: new products, new vendors, new custom builds, and lots of famous people. My goal is always to check out what is new and to obtain samples, literature, or business cards for my friends back home who could not attend but are looking for new things for their businesses. I also shuffle through the aisles looking at the custom cars, bikes, trucks, and meeting the celebrities.

Prior to my trip, I set up a schedule of the times that the celebrities that I was interested in were due to appear. I used the “My Planner”, which was part of the SEMA application I downloaded to my phone. I printed it off several times due to updates of the times but stopped after I “killed” several trees with the hard copies. Once I arrived at the show, I would search out the booths in question and then stand in line for various times depending on the popularity of the celebrity. Some times my wait was quick, and some times I waited 45 minutes or more. The celebrities that I did meet were: Chip Foose, Jessi Combs, Courtney Hansen, Ryan Friedlinghaus, Lou Santiago, R. Lee Ermy, Will Castro, Dave Kindig, Barry Meguiar, John D’agostino, Rich Evans, Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman, Von Hot Rod, and Stacey David.

There were some celebrities that I wanted to meet but our schedules never jived. These included Christy Lee and Rachel DeBarros, of “All Girls Garage”, Dennis Gage, of “My Classic Car”, Reggie Jackson, “Mister October”, Wayne Carini,of “Chasing Cars”, Steve Darnell, of “Vegas Rat Rods”, “Horny Mike”, of “Counts Kustoms”, and Dan Woods, of “Chop Shop Rebuild”. I learned that the SEMA schedule did not necessarily match the celebrity’s schedule of appearances.

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Attending SEMA is not for the “faint of heart”. For four days you “shuffle” through miles of aisles of booths, getting jostled, shoved, packed like sardines on the monorails, and run over by people in carts. You have to be quick with a shutter taking photos because people are always getting in your way. You cover miles and miles of terrain and lose your hearing over “drifting” cars on the tracks. Each evening you look forward to taking off your shoes and relaxing, only to do it again the next day. In spite of the cons, I enjoy going to SEMA. This was my third year and I hope I can continue going in the future.

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