weather icon need setting
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper
RJAuto Logo
Powered By
Findlay Auto Group Logo

Automotive business on display at SEMA

Welder Up’s Steve Darnell is a busy native Las Vegan. He is passionate about classic cars and has been rebuilding and fine-tuning vehicles for many years.

As busy as his company is now, Darnell wouldn’t miss a Specialty Equipment Market Association show. Thousands of auto enthusiasts converge on the Las Vegas Convention Center every year for SEMA, which ends today.

Darnell, whose business is situated at 3160 S. Highland Drive, looks forward to every SEMA gathering and is among the first to arrive at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the last to leave when the show is packing up and leaving.

While Darnell only had to travel a few miles to visit SEMA, many conventiongoers traveled from as far away as Japan and Germany. The gathering is open to industry representatives rather than consumers.

SEMA debuted in Los Angeles in 1967 and has been the go-to automobile source ever since. The show moved to Las Vegas in 1977.

Former SEMA president Leo Kagan, who is now more than 100 years of age, brought SEMA to Las Vegas because Anaheim had too much rain, and it didn’t have enough convention space. Kagan’s moving the show to Las Vegas in 1977 upset some Southern Californians and delighted the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The 2019 SEMA show certainly hasn’t lost its pizazz as one of Las Vegas’ largest conventions, second only to CES. SEMA is like a gearhead’s county fair jam-packed with high-energy machines that literally rumble the earth.

”It’s the greatest show on Earth,” said Darnell, whose company works on everything from slick classic cars to a tractor that was formerly used for road construction.

In fact, one of the vehicles Darnell worked on was a ’55 Chevrolet allegedly owned by Charles Manson, though the information has not been confirmed. Manson ran from the law and finally ended up in Death Valley, where the ’55 Chevrolet was left to rot before Darnell chased it down and brought it to the Welder Up shop for an automotive revival.

Key to the SEMA show is marketing.

Among the many exhibitors that spend thousands for displays at SEMA was Shiner, Texas-based Ranch Hand, a truck accessory company that creates customized grill guards, bumpers and steps to give trucks a distinguishing edge. One recent addition to its line is a new metal finish to all of these customizations called “Midnight.”

“Last year’s Impact Experience allowed us to show off the strength of our product,” said Director of Marketing Larry Murray. “Ranch Hand will be literally ‘striking Midnight’ with a huge 200-pound sledgehammer throughout the week at SEMA. Ranch Hand’s industry-leading, American-made bumpers and grill guards are famously built to take a hit.”

Murray worked with marketing expert Joe Mattson of Bivalve Agency in Texas. The agency executive orchestrated the idea of a 200-pound ball being released every hour on the hour to show onlookers that the Ranch Hand Midnight bumper was a step above everyone else’s bumper protection package.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction adds 5th day

Mecum Auctions’ 32nd annual Vintage Antique Motorcycle Auction reaches new heights with an estimated 2,000 motorcycles to be offered Jan. 24-28 at the South Point.

Mecum Auctions back in Las Vegas on Nov. 10-12

Mecum Auctions will return to the Las Vegas Convention Center on Nov. 10 for its sixth annual collector car auction at the venue. The auctions will run through Nov. 12.

Vintage motorcycle auction returns to Las Vegas

Over 1,700 collectible motorcycles cross the auction block Jan. 25-29 at the 2022 Mecum Las Vegas Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction at South Point.

Mecum motorcycle auction returns to Las Vegas

Mecum Auctions’ annual vintage and antique motorcycle auction begins Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. An estimated 1,750 motorcycles will go on the auction block.

Subaru debuts 2022 Outback Wilderness

Subaru of America has introduced the most rugged and capable Outback in the auto manufacturer’s history: the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness.

Findlay hosts golf tournament to benefit FEAT

The first-ever Findlay Invitational Golf Tournament will be held Dec. 12 at Desert Pines Golf Club. The tournament will benefit Families for Effective Autism Treatment.

Subaru of Las Vegas, 8 News Now protect the environment

The 8 News Now Living Green Super Recycle Day, sponsored by Subaru of Las Vegas, was a blockbuster success Feb. 1 at UNLV’s Thomas Mack Center. The event is estimated to have drawn more than 5,000 people bringing a vast assortment of items to be recycled.

Boston native dedicated to Jaguar Land Rover

John Simmons was recently named parts and service director of Jaguar Land Rover Las Vegas, where he has worked for more than 12 years.