SEMA: The Top 5 Things You Should Know

Kia's music-themed Soul concepts at the 2013 SEMA show

Each year, some of the best automotive tuners and modifiers come together in one place to show off their wares, see what others are doing, and, incidentally, to conduct some actual business. It's called SEMA, short for the organization's name: Specialty Equipment Market Association.

With all of the awesomely, incredibly, sometimes inexplicably modified vehicles on the grounds (along with several thousand types of wheels, body kits, and other components), it can be hard to get your bearings. Fortunately, we're here to help. Here are the top five things you should know to get the most out of SEMA.

1. Get there early, and be prepared to stay late. There are a lot of people attending the show, even though it's industry-only, and it takes a while to move around the massive Las Vegas Convention Center.

2. Don't spend all your time at the convention center. There are many cool and interesting things happening outside the main show itself, including conferences, exhibitions, and, of course, parties. Spend some time in advance of the show finding out when and where these extra-curricular activities will be, and get yourself invited.

3. Bring a camera. There are way too many impressive custom vehicles at the show to remember them all, and you'll want to tell your friends about them anyway. And don't just take photos of your favorites--also shoot the ones that drive you nuts.

4. Bring a friend. There are tens of thousands of people at SEMA, but most of them are there with their own group, doing their own thing, and Las Vegas can be a very lonely place if you're on your own. You'll enjoy the sights at the show that much more if you have someone to share them with, and you won't end the night eating a burger alone in your hotel room.

5. Wear comfortable shoes. A corollary to No. 1 above, the Las Vegas Convention Center is a huge space, and the whole thing is packed with interesting hardware. You'll walk 10 or 15 miles if you manage a full day on the floor, and you don't want to do that with your dogs barking the whole way.
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