By Brian Letendre
C4x4 Contributor and UCORA President
At the end of October, I had the honor of being introduced to the automotive industry icon that is known as SEMA. Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA for short, is known by just about anyone who does anything with automotive stuff. From classic cars and restorations, to off-road trucks, Jeeps, and UTVs. They also have sections dedicated to just tools, chemicals for everything, and even an entire floor dedicated to tires and wheels! So let me give you my first impressions, since this was my first time.

Knowing that every media and magazine would be covering the new Jeep JL, and since I love Toyota's personally, I decided to take the attitude of "It's not a Jeep" to heart as I roamed the aisles, especially the first two of my 3 day visit. Don't worry, this will not be an all Toyota story either. If you are a regular follower of C4x4 Online Magazine on Social Media, you saw plenty of pictures uploaded each day of all the happenings, and even a few of some completely obscure things not off-road related. If you are not a follower, why not? As I start going over some of my favorite things, I want to say a huge thank you to the wonderful women of C4x4's site sponsor, Crawlher. Tiffany and Britney took this SEMA rookie and showed me around, introduced me to some great people, and even got me into a couple private events that I would not have even known were happening, much less gotten into. Thanks girls!

Let me start off with this Toyota Tacoma. (I promise, I won't be covering only Toyotas) While the initial look of this Toyota seems straightforward; a Rooftop tent, Rotopax, Bed Rack, and modest lift, let's take a closer look at the rear suspension. From the factory, this Tacoma would have been equipped with a leaf sprung rear axle suspension and modest shocks. Revtek Suspensions has designed and installed a completely bolt-in system to replace all that with a coil-over suspension system and 4-link setup.By adding the rear truss to the rear frame rails, they can achieve proper bolting locations for the the new shocks. Then, with the leaf springs removed, the structure bolts through the frame into holes already there for a super strong support system which handles the loads. I spoke with the designer and asked how road handling was with the shocks positioned so far inboard, which is a trick used by rock crawlers to help with travel but usually increases body roll. He responded that the system did increase body roll when the bed was fully loaded slightly, but he said the drive down to SEMA was more affected by wind loading from the equipment than the roll from the suspension design. Well done!

My next stop on the hunt for things I would not expect at SEMA took me to the toys of a slightly smaller variety. Not Side-by-Sides, not even ATVs, but RC crawlers. Yes, Traxxas, RedCat, and Axial were all represented. Check out some of these fun goodies, which come about the same price scale as their build scale.

Now being a novice to SEMA, but not the world of trade shows, I knew a person will see trends in the market and the way the industry is going at shows like this. The 2018 SEMA show was no different. If you never looked above the tires on the carpet, you might have missed the fact that nearly every rig, big or small, had a rooftop tent. The world of Overland travel is big and getting bigger.

Wrapping up, SEMA was a great experience and definitely a 'Bucket List' event for me. I can only hope I get to attend more often and continue to cover the event for C4x4. If you ever are offered an opportunity to go to SEMA, since it's not open to the general public, I would make it work for your schedule and go. You will never cover the over 1-million square feet of area covered by the event, so take good shoes and find something you want to seek out. You will never forget it. Keep following C4x4 over the next few months as I bring you some more feature articles about specific things that impacted me at the 2018 SEMA.

God Bless and drive safe!