SEMA Nights - Particulate Matters
While I know you’re all probably champing at the bit and ready to dig right into this issue (as I hope you are every month) and our wall-to-wall coverage of the 2014 SEMA Show, I hope you’ll hold off doing so for just a few moments. At least long enough to take in this brief personal musing about SEMA—the automotive aftermarket’s premier trade show—held every November in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I’ve been attending the show for the last 11 years. In that time, I’ve come to learn and understand that as a member of the automotive media, being at SEMA goes far beyond simply walking—strategically and sometimes aimlessly—through the various halls, gathering pictures and intelligence (on the latest parts and products for diesel trucks), or patiently standing by one of many badass, custom rigs, waiting for the moment when its surrounds are free enough of admirers for a quality photo to be captured.
SEMA at night is the polar opposite of the daily show. While the halls and display booths are quiet, nighttime gives show attendees a chance to loosen their collective collars and socialize, network (OK, party), and even get big deals closed, either over drinks and dinners at nice restaurants or at star-studded jams thrown by some of the biggest companies in the game (I heard Social Distortion performed a full-on concert at the Gran Turismo SEMA soirée?).
Although I didn’t partake in any of the all-night partying that I admit I’ve done at past SEMAs (and I wonder how many of my industry colleagues have the stones to make the same confession?), my after-show experiences were awesome and maybe, in a small way, productive for Diesel Power.
A reunion I had on Wednesday stands out as one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced while at the SEMA Show. After several years of only seeing Rutledge Wood on television as the host of the American version of Top Gear, I caught up with him in another totally random meeting at the Westgate Hotel’s circle bar.
I say “another” because I originally met Rutledge at SEMA in 2008, when we happened to cross paths on a pedestrian bridge that spans Las Vegas Boulevard. Simply saying hello led to a very cool 15-minute chat about late-model Mustangs, and then we went our separate ways.
Here we are, six years later, and once again Rutledge and I bump into each other (he actually remembered me from our ’08 meeting), and instantly start bench racing as if all that time hasn’t passed. Our conversation was about diesels, and “Rut” seemed genuinely excited that I’m now the editor of this magazine.
“What do you think about (Cummins) 4BT swaps?” he asked. I gave him my knee-jerk thoughts and, in what I can only describe as one of those “before-you-knew-it” scenarios, our group (which included Diesel Power Staff Editor Trevor Reed, Four Wheeler Staff Editor Augustin Jimenez, and a few members of Rutledge’s entourage) was embroiled in a “cool diesel-engine swaps” discussion, right there at the bar.
Several ideas were shouted out, but the one Rutledge and I same-paged on is attempting to wedge a Ford 6.7L Power Stroke between the fenders of an Expedition. And we’re talkin’, “the finished product has to be clean, run like a top, and everything (creature comforts, air conditioning, power steering, power seats, and so on) has to work.”
Aggressive? Yes. Doable? Also yes—I think. Will we try it? The jury’s still out on that one. Rutledge asked me, “Who’s gonna bankroll this deal?” I can’t say I know the answer to that. However, I will say that I think TV-star money trumps this particular magazine editor’s money every time.
So...Rutledge, buddy, get that bread together and let’s make this dream come true!