Trying on a Shelby at SEMA

SEMA Show 2023
Specialty Equipment Market Association, Las Vegas 2023
Photo by Sal Musco

Where there’s smoke there’s fire!! Unless it’s November and SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) has rolled into Las Vegas! From our home balcony overlooking the Strip, we could see great plumes of smoke waft through the air as drivers raced sports cars around an empty parking lot, leaving black streaks of rubber on the asphalt. Then on Wednesday, November 1st, I got a closer look at what SEMA is all about. I checked out the special limited edition of the 30th anniversary Shelby car when it was unveiled with great fanfare at the Las Vegas convention center!

After retiring from an impressive racing career, Carrol Hall Shelby (1923-2012) lived his dream by founding Shelby American to create his own sports cars. These days, the annual tradition of introducing a special new model is continued in Shelby’s honor.

Shelby at SEMA
Look closely–you might spot a female!
Photo by Sal Musco

While I was definitely in the minority in the testosterone-infused convention hall–most of the exhibitors, attendees and press were male–I was at least not unique! And the latest Shelby car did not disappoint! Sleek and shiny, only thirty of these beauties will ever be produced. Two color schemes are available–black stripe on silver body or silver stripe on black body. I jumped right behind the wheel of the black stripe on the silver body version (go Raiders!) The sleekness of the exterior was matched by the plush luxury of the interior–it was like sitting in a piece of jewelry! I would have driven it right off the floor, but the price tag of $225,000 dragged me back to the real world.

The author tries on a Shelby
The author, ready to drive home in the black-on-silver version
Photo by Sal Musco

Fortunately, I could step right back into dreamland at a party later that day hosted by SEMA exhibitor Garmat in the Elvis Suite at the Westgate Hotel. Garmat manufactures paint, booths, and finishing solutions for collision, repair, aerospace, and industrial applications. Debbie Teter, Garmat’s director of sales and marketing, was the “hostess with the mostest,” and the Elvis suite was furnished with a groaning table of charcuterie, crudites, and tasty hors d’ouevres, and that’s not all. Carving stations served roast turkey and brisket, and the bar was pouring everything from martinis to wine. A truly buzzy event! Is anyone out there concerned about where Barry Manilow went to sleep that night? Rest assured that the Elvis Suite is big enough for a high-powered SEMA reception AND sumptuous living quarters for the artist in residence!


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