A Little More Action
Hot Rods Invade Sin City
I’m writing this nearly a month before the SEMA Show kicks off in Las Vegas, but it feels more like the second to last day of school. Big plans being made while lots of loose ends get tied up, and a general feeling of “is it tomorrow yet?!” The air is buzzing with excitement and anticipation, here at Dakota Digital and throughout the industry as a whole. SEMA is our Super Bowl, and everyone wants a ring.
SEMA is an acronym for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a group that works hard to organize, inspire and protect companies that build products for auto enthusiasts of all types. The SEMA Show however, has become a monster event in its own right that attracts all sorts of vehicles from across the globe. Building a car or truck specifically to debut at SEMA has become the norm, and of course they all come right down to the wire; the Instagram hashtag #semacrunch has been used nearly 13,000 times!
Being the innovative, growing company that Dakota Digital is, one of SEMA’s big draws for us is the hotly contested new product awards. There are hundreds of entries in the new products area; the best new stuff is typically debuted there so the competition is stiff. We’re coming out with digital guns blazing this year, hoping our new RTX-series of stock-appearing instruments knocks the judges over. With the great number of rival products sorted into somewhat loose categories, our instrument systems can be up against a 4x4 lift kit or an ignition system; maybe not apples to apples but it makes bringing home yet another trophy that much sweeter.
RTX is new and growing, so we’re building fresh demonstration units to display some new applications, which can turn into a #semacrunch of our own. Brand new parts, prototype pieces and new design ideas all come together days before the show. With tens of thousands of eyeballs (and smart phones) fixed on our presence, the pressure is high to get things right and looking good.
The same can be said for builders of the SEMA display vehicles. Scattered around the convention center, inside and out, a tremendous variety of automobiles can be found finished in an eye-popping assortment of ways. Lowriders, drag cars, rock crawlers and drift cars can be side by side at SEMA; it’s a melting pot of the automotive industry. Many of these feature vehicles are customer rides, and in true hot rod fashion, most are probably scheduled to go to paint this week or next (again, three weeks before the show). The dashboard is usually toward the bottom of the assembly list so a panicked call in late October looking for a particular instrument system to be shipped overnight is not uncommon. I have come to the conclusion that these “SEMA-builders” thrive on the rush, struggle and last-minute jamming, not to mention the week of fame that follows.
Our unofficial list of Dakota Digital-equipped feature vehicles has more than 80 instrument systems set to make the big show. Around 30 are custom systems, whether that’s a simple color-matched overlay or a total scratch-built masterpiece. The remaining 50+ are off-the-shelf kits. Try as we might to head to Vegas prepared, we always find surprise customers; those who fly under the radar while flying our flag. These unexpected finds are often some of the coolest cars and can be the catalyst for a new connection, both business and personal.
Much the same way summer takes too long to arrive only to fly by in a blink, SEMA is also over before you know it. Four days in Las Vegas can feel like one long day; the Dakota Digital booth sustains heavy traffic from beginning to end; builders, tire-kickers, media and friends all stop by to say hello, check out the new stuff and generally “make the scene.” By the time they ring the closing bell on Friday afternoon, you’re not sure what happened, where your cash went or why your feet hurt, but that’s Vegas baby.