DETOURS December 2021:   SEMA 2021  |   The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center

SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association) Show

Story and photos by Rob Alen

The epic SEMA trade show extravaganza returned to Las Vegas in November after health restrictions canceled it in 2020. SEMA is everything about the automotive aftermarket category. It's prime focus is toward performance; racing, hot rods, engines, chassis, bodies, wheels and tires, as well as heavy shop equipment like lifts and collision repair.

This year the attendance felt a little off from previous years, but there still were crowds migrating from one exhibit hall to the other. Noticeable was the open exhibit space of absent exhibitors. Not a surprise, and it was a blessing as the organizers supplied tables and chairs to meet and rest. The place is so big by the end of the day it gives new meaning to The Walking Dead. The show attracts the enterprising small business person: they may have a service or motorsports shop in Kansas or a window tint and body wrap business. They are people serious about their business in a field they are enthusiastic about.

It didn't take much observation to see the infiltration of electric motor exhibitors. Not overwhelming, but there is an electric replacement for a supercharged V-8. Automotive personalities from the multitudes of TV car shows were signing autographs and making endorsements. Jay Leno made several booth appearances, and voiced the agenda for the future: Your every day driver will be some alternative fuel thing, and on the weekends you'll tinker and take the old collector car clunker to a Saturday morning Cars-and-Coffee. Sounds reasonable, but it won't be happening tomorrow.


The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum

By Wallace Wyss

January 20, 2022... That’s the date of the Grand Opening of The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum displaying what they say is “the 4th Largest Collection of Shelby Cars in the U.S. and Largest Collection in Southern California.”

Kathy Ireland co-hosts with Ted and Rae Segerstrom. The Segerstroms Orange County history goes back a few generations to 1908 when they were lima bean farmers in Orange County on 20 acres of land. Now their property is the center of a very prosperous part of Orange County. The collection of over 70 cars includes a lot of rare Shelby Mustangs as well as Cobras. Ted Segerstrom, in an interview on the website Petrolicious, was quoted as saying: "If we had more room we might do more but if there’s really no meaning behind them, and you’re just looking to acquire numbers, you could do that any day. We like to go for the rarer models, the hard-to-find ones, and preserve those. That’s what it all comes down to right now, is preserving the history and doing it correct, getting the right parts put on, the original date parts, if they’re available. That’s the way they came from the factory and that’s the way they should be."

The Center was built to be a celebration of legendary race car designer and historical figure Carroll Shelby. The over 41,000 square foot museum and event center is home to over 83 Shelby vehicles, neon signs, gas pumps and other collectibles from Mr. and Mrs. Segerstrom’s private collection and displays, what they say are “the Most Sought After, Low-Production and Valuable Shelby’s ever Produced.” The event takes place January 20, 2022 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center, 5 Whatney, Irvine, CA 92618.


motor>spirit - Rob Alen