SEMA ignites show week with rockin’ car parade and concert

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Chevrolet will build only 69 of its 2019 COPO Camaros, the same production figure for the car when it was launched 50 years ago | Larry Edsall photos

Editor’s note: Get more news from the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas by checking out our dedicated page for daily updates.


ZZ Ward in concert at SEMA preview

Although it doesn’t officially open until 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, the 2018 SEMA Show kicked off its activities Monday evening with a car show/picnic/rock concert featuring ZZ Ward, a rock-blues artist who is delightfully entertaining but would never be confused with ZZ Top. For one thing, Ward is a woman. For another, she does not have a long beard. 

But like the ZZ Top rockers, she seemed to enjoy the cars as they interrupted her performance from time to time to be paraded across an elevated red carpet. The concert was the first of at least three she’s doing during SEMA week in Las Vegas. She and her band will perform at the annual SEMA awards banquet and, on Friday evening, at the open-to-the-public SEMA Ignited car show.

The program Monday included the ZZ Ward performance, an exhibitor appreciation reception with food and beverages for those showing vehicles this week, the presentation of the SEMA Awards, and the red-carpet unveiling of some of the showcase vehicles that will be on display during the automotive aftermarket product trade show at and around the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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High school students helped build this eCOPO Camaro concept, an electric-powered drag racer, and, yes, the car has been fast enough in early testing that it needs that parachute

Among those cars were a highly modified Ford Raptor built in part to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels die-cast toys, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro built by West Coast Customs and the Richard Petty Garage to showcase the new ContiTech line of belts and hoses, a vintage Dodge Challenger T/A with a 340 Six-Pack and showcasing the SEMA PAC and the Special Equipment Market Association’s Washington-based lobbying effort, which among other things checks every state legislative action and Congressional and Washington bureaucratic proclamation to consider its impact on the auto industry and SEMA-member businesses.

Dave Kindig showed his subtly but extensively modified 1962 Chevrolet Corvette and Chip Foose drove up in a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air that the previous day lacked doors, front fenders, hood, convertible top and interior. Foose had planned to present a Jaguar project he’s been working, but when needed parts were late arriving from England, he and his team worked round-the-clock for several days to finish the Bel Air.

Chevrolet also showcased several vehicles, including one of only 69 1969 COPO Camaros, the new and 50th anniversary 2019 COPO Camaro — again, only 69 of drag racing specials will be produced — and also what likely is the most unique among those new models, the eCOPO concept, an electric drag racing special with 800 volts, 700 horsepower and 600 instant-on pound-feet of torque.

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The car was built by General Motors with Hancock and Lane, an electric drag racing specialist, and by high school students. You read that correctly: High school students, specifically those in instructor Patrick McCue’s automotive technology program at Bothell High School near Seattle.

Chip Foose and his crew worked non-stop for several days to finish this ’57 Chevrolet Bel Air in time for its unveiling at SEMA

McCue and his students previously built the “Shock and Awe,” a record-setting electric drag racing vehicle.

“This project exemplifies Chevrolet and General Motors’ commitment to engaging young minds in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education,” said Russ O’Blenes, director of performance variants, parts and motorsports at GM. “It also represents our goal of a world with zero emissions, with the next-generation of engineers and scientists who will help us get there.

“The original COPO Camaro program was all about pushing the envelope and this concept is an exploration with the very same spirit.”

Dave Kindig unveiled this 1962 Chevrolet Corvette custom at the SEMA event

 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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