Day of the Dead car show turns into a SEMA preview

Day of the Dead
This highly modified and customized 1968 Mercury Cougar was among the cars taking part in the 360 Carshow the weekend before SEMA arrived in Las Vegas | Larry Edsall photos

Unless you are part of the automotive aftermarket industry, you cannot attend the annual SEMA Show of dazzling, exotic, unusual and, in some cases, cars just so weird as to leave you wondering what somebody was thinking  (or on) when they put the parts together. The show starts November 5 in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

But if you happened to have been in North Las Vegas on the Saturday before SEMA, you could take a look at a bunch of cars much like those that will be on display in and around the convention center this week. 

Classic truck at the taco festival in North Las Vegas

The event that has become sort of a SEMA Show preview is the 11th annual 360 Carshow staged in conjunction with The Great Las Vegas Taco Festival at Craig Ranch Park. 

The festival features food trucks, Day of the Dead booths, carnival rides, live (and VERY LOUD) music, a margarita bar, “rivers of micheladas,” a wrestling ring, and car shows, all during the Dia de los Muertos weekend.

Note that it’s car shows, plural, since there are two shows on Saturday. On one side of the walkway through the park are cars and on the other are trucks. And then, on Sunday, 360 Carshow staged its inaugural Rockabilly Shakedown featuring classics, rat rods and lowriders.

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The 360 Carshow is just one of many such events taking place in conjunction with SEMA week in Las Vegas. 

SEMA stages its own Ignited car show starting at 3 p.m. Friday in one of the convention center parking lots. The following day, the shows include the weekly Car Show on Eastern in Henderson, Mustangs on The Strip starting at Shelby America, the WildHORSEPOWER Show at the Wildhorse golf club in Henderson, the annual Goldstrom’s Classic Car Show at the Nostalgia Street Rods museum, the VA Southern Nevada Hospital car show, the (Chevrolet) C10 Vatos SEMA Party show, and the Las Vegas AMC Reunion in Henderson.

On Sunday, November 10, the 702 Classics features “Italian Stallions” at the Las Vegas Golf Center on the south end of The Strip.  

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, 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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