It began as a small trade show in the basement of Dodger Stadium. But that humble beginning has evolved into the Specialty Equipment Market Association show – now known more commonly by its acronym SEMA. Since 1977, it has been held annually at the Las Vegas Convention Center and is now the largest automotive aftermarket show in the world - not to mention one of the largest single events in Vegas.
But despite the explosive growth, it wasn't until 2010 that the association got around to sponsoring a series of awards centered around the hundreds of vehicles on display.
About those awards. They're called the SEMA awards and, like the show itself, they're different.
Although SEMA may look like an auto show from the outside - and the public is certainly encouraged to wander around there - only manufacturers, buyers, exhibitors or members of the media are allowed inside the exhibit halls.
At the same time, the awards aren't based on ride and handling, design aesthetics, or even engineering, but are, in fact, handed out solely based on popularity. Vehicle count – how many of a particular model are found on the show floor - is the only criteria.
According to SEMA president and CEO Chris Kersting, "As the visionaries and innovators of the industry, our SEMA Show exhibitors determine the winners of the SEMA Award based on the vehicles they showcase in their booths. With each booth vehicle representing one vote, the most prominent models in each category are the winners."
That's right, just like the queen at your high school homecoming, the awards are based on popularity alone.
2017 SEMA Award winners
At the opening day breakfast for SEMA17, show officials announced the winners of the eighth annual SEMA awards in five categories: Hottest Coupe, Hottest Sedan, Hottest Hatch, Hottest Truck, and Hottest 4x4-SUV. Here's the list of winners.
2017 SEMA Hottest Coupe: Chevrolet Camaro
2017 SEMA Hottest Sedan: Cadillac CTS-V
2017 SEMA Hottest Hatch: Ford Focus
2017 SEMA Hottest Truck: Ford F-Series
2017 SEMA Hottest 4x4-SUV: Jeep Wrangler
For Ford, this marks the second year in a row for Focus and the third year in a row for the F-series – which has won the award for the seventh time in the eight year history of the award.
"The aftermarket industry’s ongoing elevation of our vehicles feels great," said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. "We are beyond proud to have two back-to-back-to-back winners in our Focus and F-Series."
For FCA, the Jeep brand just keeps rolling along as the Wrangler JK generation goes out on top by once again garnering SEMA's "Hottest 4x4-SUV" award for a record eighth consecutive year.
According to Pietro Gorlier, Head of FCA's Mopar brand, "The Jeep Wrangler is a unique case in the industry, with 98 percent of all Wrangler vehicles sold equipped with at least one of our accessories. And as the Jeep brand prepares to unveil the next-generation Wrangler, Mopar will be ready to support the most capable vehicle in the world with a new portfolio of products."