SEMA – Las Vegas 2006

Every year, around the first weekend of November, the NICO Staff makes its annual pilgrimage to SEMA – The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers’ Association show in Las Vegas, NV.

SEMA is the most-anticipated event of the year for folks in the automotive industry,and is one of the largest conventions in the U.S., drawing over 125,000 attendees and nearly 5,000 vendors.

The NICO Staff hits the show to stay abreast of the latest developments in the automotive aftermarket, to keep current on trends and future products, to meet sponsors and network with potential vendors, to plan events for the coming year, and most of all, to hang out and have fun with other car people!

This year’s show was simply phenomenal – The cars, the parts, the displays, the models, the food, the hands-on demonstrations, the giveaways, the celebrities…more stuff than you can possibly see in 4 days, all at a whirlwind pace.

The show ran Tuesday through Friday, and there’s no way to see it all – it’s justtoo enormous.So we strategized our “attack”: Skip the outdoorsman section (truck accessories, camping gear, etc.), the boating area, the trailer and towing booths,and the wheel / tire areas, which are easily a days’ worth of viewing.

Attending this year were: Torry (EZcheese15), Dan (240sx2nr95), Chris(MinisterOfDOOM), Jason (rotorimp), Chris (nissanparts.org), Joe (Kamin), and yours truly (AZhitman).

We hit the Nissan booth right away, which was (as always) a bit disappointing. Nissan doesn’t provide factory reps for the show, relying on the cars to do the talking. The emphasis for Nissan’s future is clear: The Versa is their “ace in the hole”, and it was well-represented at SEMA. Six different Versa hatchbacks were present, all very distinctly-modded.The full-race “Turn3″ Versa, complete with cage and racing harnesses, will be featured on NICO very soon. The Versas were joined by the Mark Ecko-edition Armada, a radical Frontier, a JGTC-styled Z and an off-road challenge Titan.

Other radical Nissans could be found elsewhere throughout the show, and it’s clear that the arrival of the restyled G35 Coupe (due in 2008) and the new 350Z can come none too soon.While prior SEMA events have contained numerous G35’s and 350Z’s, those were in short supply this year.

Nissan Sport Magazine was present for the first time, and we had an opportunity tospend some quality time with the Editor, Dave Bexfield, and plan some future collaboration.

A sure sign of all the hard work we’ve done over the past three years: The NICO staff was recognized throughout the event, and we were often pulled in several different directions by vendors, event promoters and other enthusiasts. Lots of people stopped us to express appreciation for the forums, which tells me we’re doing things right!

NICOclub has a good relationship with NOPI, one of the premier import-lifestyle events companies. We attended their press conference in which they announced the formation of the NOPI Drift Series, which will begin in 2007. We’ll be bringing you more details very soon, so stay tuned – It promises to be an awesome addition to the current drifting scene, and NICOclub.com will be right in the thick of it.

The NICO staff enjoyed an evening of teppanyaki-style Japanese cuisine with the producers of the Best Motoring video series, and they shared with us some of theirplans for the upcoming releases. We’ll be making some special arrangements with them for NICO members, and you won’t want to miss these! Thanks to Masa and Katsufor the enjoyable company and the great dinner, it was a blast!

We also spent some time with the crew from Paramax, the producers of the GT LiveSeries. Even though the weather put a damper on attendance at NICOfest at VIR, they’re eager to continue collaborating with NICO for some future events. Stay tuned for an announcement soon for GT Live / NICOfest events in Utah and a couple other venues for 2007!

All of the NICO staff are big fans of the show “Overhaulin” on TLC, and one of the highlights of SEMA was getting to meet Chip Foose, Chris, AJ, Mike LaValliere and some of the other stars of the show. Gracious and personable, they’re great fun to chat with. During the show, we had the opportunity to watch an Overhaulin’ build LIVE during its filming, and it’s simply amazing to see the progress the team makes in a matter of a couple hours!

One of our “roommates” during the SEMA show was none other than Mike Maez, of www.FriscoMix.com fame. Mike is one of the primary photographers for Modified Magazine, and he had just finished a recent shoot of the $1.7 million Koenigsegg  CCX and the wicked “R14″ (RB26DETT-powered, 1000-hp AWD S14) built by Full-Race. Mike was in full “photo ninja” mode all week, and you’ll be seeing a LOT more of his photography soon and can see some of his work via NICO’s Nov ’06 “Ride of the Month”.

“Master Fabricator” and engine builder of the 240sxConvertible.com cover car Jason McCoy (rotorimp) attended as a guest of the NICO staff, and he took full advantage of the tool and fabrication components of the SEMA show. From plasma cutters to welders to specialty tools, he participated in several hands-on demonstrations, and even got some tips and pointers from the staff of Lincoln and ESAB.

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