Life on the Road: Parties, pooches and ponchos hit Vegas.

Big tires. That’s what SEMA’s all about. Tires, parts and the machines technicians use to fix cars. It’s not sexy or glamorous, there’s no glitz. Parties are a bunch of balding, overweight marketing managers trying to drink their feet into feeling good. That’s SEMA. And that’s bunk. There’s the other SEMA, too, with booth babes, celebrities, and a million cool cars that would awe the most grizzled SEMA veteran. After a week spent tramping around convention halls and witnessing crazy parties, we saw plenty of both SEMAs, for your enjoyment. The fat and tired managers? Yeah. We left those photos out.

The Ultimate Accessory

Sure, accessories are part of the SEMA Week experience. We just think a Pomeranian pooch is a bit, well, odd for a show about cars, wheels, parts and glamour. Then again, it is the ultimate accessory, thanks to Paris and her friends. Plus, it worked: with all the booth babes spread out across three halls, the girl with dog idea did seem to be the difference maker. More SEMA travelers were taking pictures of Babe, with dog, than Babe, without dog. And none that we could see were spending their time searching for the next great trailer hitch.

Jay Leno and the Corn Fed Corvette

It’s not SEMA without Jay, and this year he brought with him a bushel of corn and a midnight black Corvette that goes real fast – think 600 horsepower — on E85 fuel. For automotive enthusiasts who live in the Iowa and want to drive fast, this vehicle, a Z06-inspired C6RS Corvette, does the trick. That’s right: give back to the farm while you drive down the Interstate, and keep America strong, bubba!

50 Cent’s got a Poncho

Seen at the press room: a media credential made out to one Curtis Jackson. At first we thought Curtis was the new reporter from Underbody Illustrated, but someone told us that he was actually 50 Cent showing off his custom red Pontiac G8. Tested at 500 horsepower and holder of a sizzling JBL audio system, the car is cool, but the star is hot and just what GM needs to attract a new generation of gearheads. Indeed, rumor has it that Mr. Cent was so impressed with the G8 that he’s actually thinking about trading in his old yellow Sunfire for his own new Pontiac.

Greed

Just in case you wondered what it is that SEMA and Las Vegas have in common. Here’s how it works: for a week, automakers, fabricators, parts suppliers – and everyone with an automotive dream – comes to Vegas to play a slot machine some call the auto business. From $2 million dollar wheels to special custom cars that cost twice that, SEMA is all about making good business. Just like Vegas, baby.

Inside SEMA

Wednesday is always the busy day for SEMA, with massive crowds made up of media, buyers, lookie-loos and exhibitors. This view, taken in the south hall, shows just how big this show really is: it’s only one floor of one side of one hall. There are only two more halls and one more convention center full of automotive gear left after this one!

Muscle and the Military

Old military planes are cool. Muscle cars are cool, especially those created thirty or forty years ago. What’s not cool is a modern muscle car done up to look like an old military plane, especially when the vehicle in question is a Pontiac Trans-Am and the aircraft is a P-51 Mustang. If those big gnarly incisors decorated the front of a Ford, this might make more sense, but either way you wouldn’t catch us cruising in this clipped-winged bird. (Thom Blackett)

Chip Foose

They should have called this the 2007 FOOSEMA Show, and paid tribute to the man who has stamped his brilliance all over this place and its people. Seemingly everywhere at once, Chip Foose had time to sign a zillion autographs and still create a number of new vehicles, including the FooseFlex Ford Flex crossover.

Workin’ for a Living

Think SEMA is all fun? This hard working video team from Hub will surely tell you how much they love what they do, but they will just as surely also tell you how long and grinding the days are when you’ve got three halls and thousands of booths to cover. Asking the same guy with a different name the same question with a different spin doesn’t just get tiring, it gets mind-numbing. Hmmph. All this, just so you can waste a few hours of unproductive down time while working. Feel sorry for us. Please.

Custom Bike

If you’re looking for the next big thing to come to SEMA, take a look at this Bourget Motorcycle masterpiece. It’s what they call an Aluminum Retro Chopper – guess why – and it wasn’t the only two-wheeled work of art at the show. Seemed like every time we turned around there was a custom bike in a booth, staring us down and catching our eye. Check back again next year to see if bikes become a more serious subset of the overall SEMA experience.

Hot Wheels

Toyota may have been the official automaker of the 2007 SEMA Show, but they failed miserably to get close to generating the kind of buzz Hot Wheels had with their 40th Anniversary celebration. From Larry Woods signing collectables to life-sized hot wheels, this booth was the place to be during SEMA Week. Our favorite? The green Twin Mill, or the Gangster Grin. In fact, we may have owned a Twin Mill once, long ago…

Big Daddy’s at SEMA

A week spent slogging up and down aisles at the SEMA Show will work up an appetite in just about any man, and that’s where Big Daddy comes in. Located on the parking lot, right in front of the Central Hall, Big Daddy serves up burgers, ribs and more. This ain’t no salad joint, and it sure ain’t cheap. But it is quite tasty after a hard day spent gawking at cars and girls.

Inflatable Trailer Hitches

Some companies invest in custom cars to attract people to their SEMA booth. Others give freebies, and many pay for the services of “booth babes,” those scantily-clad girls who prance around…a definite SEMA crowd pleaser. The trailer hitch guys, why, they march to their own beat and it includes a big silver inflatable trailer hitch. Shoot, how about a mint bowl, for cryin’ out loud?

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