SEMA Show Canceled; Was Anyone Even Planning to Show Up?

SEMA finally did what seemed was inevitable and cancelled this year’s show. There is some discussion about having a virtual show similar to what CES has announced it will do in January at the same Las Vegas Convention Center location, but so far no concrete plans have been released.

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, announced today that due to COVID-19 and concerns that event facilities and services will be unavailable, the SEMA Show will not be taking place in 2020,” the organization said in a release.

The cancellation is unprecedented in the show’s 50-plus-year history. Neither the Great Recession nor 9/11 resulted in a cancellation.

“It’s huge,” said Edelbrock President and CEO Don Barry. “It’s a big deal. It’s historic. Since the first SEMA show in the 1960s, Edelbrock was there and we’ve been there ever since.”

The release from show organizers suggests that the cause of the cancellation was partly a concern that the Las Vegas Convention Center wouldn’t be available due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Some attendees had planned to be there, COVID or no COVID.

“Oh, yeah, we were still in the process of (going),” said Vicky Wheeler of Specialty Products Company, a suspension alignment parts maker. “We were talking about getting Steph (Papadakis’ Formula Drift) car, whether Toyota was gonna get it or we were going to get it, that kind of stuff. We’ve been in touch with the show people, and they’ve been in touch with me about where I stood and stuff like that. But unless they canceled the show, we were still making plans.”

But calls by Autoweek to regular SEMA show attendees suggests that many show regulars had already decided not to make the trek to Vegas, they just hadn’t told SEMA yet.

“Officially we have our booth space reserved, we’ve got our sponsorships, we’ve got our rooms reserved,” said one show attendee, who preferred anonymity because they didn’t want to risk losing their prime booth…

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