Still Hammerin’
Rob Fortier headshot



s I was finishing up last month’s editorial, we were just preparing to head off to Las Vegas for the 2022 SEMA Show. Well, we did just that, and I’m now here to report on how that all went down.

Following last year’s post-pandemic return after taking the previous year off, there was speculation on what kind of turnout this year’s SEMA would generate—especially with the news that Chevrolet and Ford (among others) would not be in their usual campsites surrounding our beloved Hot Rod Alley. Well, let’s just say that overall, I was more than pleasantly surprised—other than the fact that I absolutely do not like Vegas, that is.

Upon my initial stroll into the Las Vegas Convention Center (after obtaining the required credentials), for the first time in who knows how many years, I was not greeted by the usual blue neon glow shining out onto Hot Rod Alley that I was used to seeing, as Ford Motor Company’s replacement, Toyota/TRD, was brightly illuminated in white light. That, however, was overshadowed in an audible manner just 100 yards or so away by Chevy’s replacement, Mopar’s extremely loud (and annoying) display promoting whatever non-gas-guzzling Dodge product they were pushing. But neither of those so-called distractions were enough to eclipse what the real focal point of my SEMA 2022 experience was.

From one end of Hot Rod Alley to the other, the most predominant aspect at this year’s show: classic trucks! Yep, more so than I’ve ever seen … in all my 25-plus years of attending SEMA! It was truly incredible to see that representation, especially when I’m so used to being surrounded by muscle cars and imports. And the other great thing: In The Garage Media was the ONLY exhibiting niche/enthusiast media company other than our friends over at Hemmings Motor News, which also said quite a bit to me.

We didn’t win any “new business” awards this year (I guess you can only win those once!), but the HRIA (Hot Rod Industry Alliance) banquet had a huge turnout of builders, business owners, and automotive namesakes alike. It’s always great being able to honor the folks who have not only helped build this industry but also keep it going in tough times like this. And it was especially great to see an old “familiar voice,” Wings Kalahan, get the recognition he truly deserved for all he’s done with/for the NSRA over the decades.

The foot traffic this year was definitely up compared to last year, and though we didn’t stick around to see for ourselves, rumor has it the “public opening” on Friday had a HUGE turnout, and next year is expected to be even more so. We’ll just have to see—but for now, preparations are in order for the upcoming MPMC Show, which is back to in-person after two years of virtual.

cars at the 2022 SEMA show in Las Vegas