By now many of you have heard about the SEMA show. For those of you who haven’t, SEMA stands for “Specialty Equipment Market Association” and it’s an annual tradeshow that features the best automotive aftermarket products the world has to offer. Now, to give you a better understanding of the magnitude of the show, the SEMA show is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but that sounds simple and boring so let’s get into the facts. SEMA occupies more than 1 million net square feet, attracts more than 3,000 media outlets, and, get this, there are roughly 11,000 booths!

This is the show where the best come to gather, and it’s the show where manufacturers and car builders are trying to get their shine and showcase new products. Year after year, SEMA continues to be the highlight of the automotive industry and it’s always interesting to see the crossover that takes place. You’ll see import cars borrowing styling cues from hot rods, hot rods taking cues from modern muscle, the list goes on and on.

As both a SEMA exhibitor and attendee for just over two decades, I am continually inspired. I’m also jazzed to see that lowriders have become a welcomed addition to the show and that our styles are creeping over to other niche markets. To top it off it’s great to see that we as lowriders have taken cues from other segments of the automotive industry as well. Take for instance LS transplants and forced induction. While that was primarily something left to hot rodders, lowriders have seen the benefits of having newer EFI motors. When it comes to attention to detail, well, we’ve seen plenty of rodders and import cars vibing with styles and tricks we made cool decades ago.

Of course I do notice that lowriders still remain a minority attraction at the show but that’s not at all a bad thing. You see, the handful of lowriders that make the show each year leave a huge impact on the industry, and to be honest the scarcity of lowriders at the show doesn’t necessarily make them less popular. In fact, the opposite could be said. Lowriders are continual works in the making and the time, money, and attention to detail in each build is what makes them unique. For starters, there are plenty of aftermarket parts on the market, but tons of our custom details aren’t ready off the shelves. From the intricate and painstaking paintjobs, to the highly detailed engraving and custom parts, our builds are in a constant state of evolution, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there aren’t as many being completed each year.

From the faux chrome and engraved 1958 Impala to the blown Impala at CFR, there were a good handful of lowriders, including my own that was on display at the Quaker State booth. And I’m not gonna lie, I’ve seen the influence of lowriding creep into the Euro and Japanese market and they’re implementing the use of engraving and highly detailed parts in many key builds. There was the engraved GTR a year back, the steampunked and engraved Porsches from builder Slang, and then there’s the huge paint influence we’ve had on off-roading and other classic builds.

For over 25 years lowriders have been exhibited at the SEMA show and they continue to be the minority that delivers a majority impact. Throughout those years, I have been fortunate enough to witness the power of our movement and much of it would have not been possible with the support of companies like House of Kolor, PPG, Axalta, Dayton, as well as Crown Wire and Coker Tire. Of course a big shout-out goes to Meguiar’s for always keeping us dialed in and I applaud all companies for making their mark and recognizing that lowriding is a mainstay in the automotive arena.

In closing all I can say is I’m blessed to be a part of this cultural movement, so take your time, build your vision, and just remember that our scene has always revolved around quality over quantity. We’ll see you all next year!


J. Ray