Still Hammerin’
Rob Fortier Headshot

s I’m writing this, SEMA is less than two weeks away. You may be wondering, “Why not wait till next month to report on SEMA past?” Good question—I may do just that—but for now, I’m basically putting my speculative thoughts to paper … or fingers to keyboard, to be more precise.

As much as I loathe Vegas—I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, and I fear the sight of washed-up celebs performing on stage—I have found the SEMA Show to be one of the most vital tools of my trade for the last quarter-century-plus that I’ve been part of it. It’s a lot to take in, both mentally and physically, as the show spans more square footage than I care to calculate. Fortunately, SEMA condensed the portion that really applies to me most directly into a nicely packaged area called Hot Rod Alley, for which I’m greatly looking forward to being immersed in after a two-year hiatus.

The reason I didn’t attend last year—the same exact reason nobody attended last year—there was no SEMA Show. Instead, SEMA 360, a virtual meeting platform, was created to provide participating exhibitors a formal outlet in which to speak with their customers as well as us, the media. It seemed to have worked OK, all things considered. At the end of the day, nothing replaces a good old face-to-face meeting … even if the conversations are a bit muffled from a mandated mask.

Rob Fortier and his pals posing for a picture

Many of the bigger companies have dialed way back on their employee attendance for this year; some have canceled altogether for health safety reasons. That said, while the “situation” at hand is probably worse than it was this time last year, the show will go on, albeit under guidelines set by the State of Nevada—the same guidelines that all casinos are currently following. I’m about as thrilled about wearing a mask the entire time I’m inside the Las Vegas Convention Center as I’d be if I had to sit through an entire Wayne Newton performance—without a mask. No doubt I’ll survive, as will all the other folks who complain about the same thing. What matters most to me is the ability to meet in person, as I don’t want to get too comfortable with what was supposed to be a temporary virtual way of life.

I anticipate coming back from this year’s SEMA Show with some good stuff to report on—I definitely know I won’t be coming back with a hangover or having lost all my money, that’s for sure.