HomeNews and EventsSEMA Show canceled, Woodward loses one show but gains another

SEMA Show canceled, Woodward loses one show but gains another

Our weekly roundup of car show news and notes


Each Wednesday morning, the Journal editorial team has its weekly conference call. This past week, the subject of the 2020 SEMA Show came up. 

“The show has been canceled,” one editor noted, “it’s just that SEMA doesn’t know it yet.”

By way of explanation, that editor added that on July 28, when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic caused cancelation of the Consumer Electronic Show, scheduled for January 2021 in Las Vegas, it was obvious (at least to him) that the SEMA Show scheduled for November 2020 would not take place.

Well, as it turned out, SEMA did know the fate of its show that Wednesday morning last week. Just a couple of hours later, it issued a news release announcing the show’s cancelation. 

SEMA overflows 3 huge convention halls and spills into surrounding parking lots | Larry Edsall photo

Soon thereafter, the AAPEX show,  the other automotive aftermarket expo held over at the Sands at the same time as SEMA overflows the Las Vegas Convention Center, announced that its 2020 show would be staged virtually rather than in person, with a series of new-product introductions on the internet during the week of November 3.

“AAPEX attendees and exhibitors are essential to keeping the motoring public on the road, even during times of crisis,” said the organizers of the show, which is aimed at auto repair and maintenance shops and their 4.7 million employees. 

Woodward wackiness

Site of former GM truck and bus assembly plant on Woodward Avenue in Pontiac, Michigan, has been turned into the M1 Concourse complex with car condos and test tracks | M1 Concourse photo

Woodward Avenue runs from downtown Detroit to downtown Pontiac, a distance of about 30 miles, and became famous when engineers from Detroit’s automakers used its broad boulevard as a test track when they were developing muscle cars in the 1960s. 

Those days were resurrected in the form of the Woodward Dream Cruise, which each August was attracting thousands of cars and more than a million spectators who lined the road through the suburbs. But like so many other events, the Dream Cruise was canceled for 2020. Until…

A couple of years ago, the former site of a GM truck and bus assembly plant adjacent to Woodward Avenue in Pontiac was turned into the M1 Concourse, with car condos and its own test track. With the Dream Cruise in apparent jeopardy, the Pontiac Motorsports Exposition was created and planned 3 days of events at the M1 Concourse under the Woodward Dream Show banner. 

Alas, even that event was canceled… But wait, there’s more!

On August 4, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Oakland County Republican Party had announced plans for the “MAGA Classic Car Cruise” to take place on Woodward Avenue on August 15, the original date for the Dream Cruise.

The event, planned to run from noon until 4 p.m., “is aimed at bringing together ‘classic car owners who are MAGA loving Trump supporters’,” the newspaper quoted a news release.

And while its 2020 Dream Show won’t take place, Tim Hartge, chief executive of the Pontiac Motorsports Exposition, has announced plans for an American Festival of Speed at M1 in October 2021.

PRI trade show still on

While many shows have been canceled or postponed, Jamie Meyer, president of the Performance Racing Industry trade group, has sent a letter to the racing industry making it clear that the 2020 PRI Trade Show remains scheduled for December 10-12 in Indianapolis. But, he adds, whether the show actually happens depends on gaining approval from the Marion County Health Department.

New date for Grand National Roadster Show

Grand National Roadster Show moves its 2021 event to later date | Rod Shows photo

The 72nd annual Grand National Roadster Show has been scheduled for May 14-16, 2021, at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, and the Sacramento Autorama for April 9-11, 2021, Rod Shows has announced.

The events usually are staged earlier in the year, but they have been reset because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Grand National Roadster Show annually honors America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. 

For more information, visit the Rod Shows website.

Greenbrier on as scheduled

Organizers of the Greenbrier concours d’Elegance say their event will take place as planned September 4-6, though with health procedures in place.

“The safety of everyone who comes through the gates, though, is the No. 1 priority,” steering committee member Cam Huffman is quoted in the news release, “and we have worked with The Greenbrier’s COVID Task Force and with local health officials to come up with a plan to keep everyone safe throughout the weekend. We are confident that we have done just that.”

Those attending will be screened for temperature and their numbers will be limited. Face covering will be required.

“Our showfields are large, and there is plenty of room for social distancing outdoors,” said Huffman. “But we feel strongly that taking the additional step of requiring the face coverings at these outdoor events is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that it brings to all involved.”

For more information, visit the concours website.

Amelia Island announces special classes for 2021

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has announced its special classes for 2021, when the 26th annual event, scheduled for March 4-7, will feature Hispano-Suiza, the Porsche 935, “Chevy Thunder,” the Ferrari 275 GTB, 1970s Muscle Cars, “It’s Electric,” Supercars of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and Shadow.

“Chevy Thunder” will include racing vehicles, including boats, powered by Chevrolet engines. “It’s Electric” will focus on the development of the electric car and the era in which it battled steam and petroleum as a primary source of vehicle power.

Hilton Head launches online series

“Women Driving America” is the title of a new online series (via Zoom) of programs being launched by the Hilton Head Island Concours and Motoring Festival. The series begins August 18 with a visit with auto racer Lyn St. James and will continue September 15 with Diane Parker, vice president of the Historical Vehicle Association. 

Future guests in the monthly series include Jennifer Maher, chief executive of the TechForce Foundation, and jeweler Brooke Hyman. 

For more information, visit the “Women Driving America” website.

Bicester Heritage adds to show schedule

Bicester Heritage, the former RAF pilot-training base in England that has been converted into a classic car center, has announced it will stage a series of Drive & Dine events, beginning September 18-20. 

“The Classic Car Drive In Weekend” will be the title for such shows, which are expected to draw more than 500 vehicles and will be held in “Covid-compliant” surroundings. 

Movies such as The Italian Job, Gone in 60 Seconds and Baby Driver will be shown with three screenings each day. 

“With so many of our traditional motoring attractions being postponed, cancelled or run behind closed doors, we were determined to create a wonderful event for the new normal,” show director Bas Bungish was quoted in the announcement.

“In these challenging times our priority will always be to provide a safe and secure environment for all our visitors and exhibitors but that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy a fabulous day out with friends and family if the right precautions are in place.”

More winners from Concours Virtual

Best in Show goes to 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR | Concours Virtual photo

Concours Virtual continues to trickle out the winning cars in its online car show:

Class E: Post War Grand Tourers 1945-1959 — 1955 Bentley R Type fastback

Class E1: Post War Grand Tourers 1960-1969 — 1961 Jaguar E-type coupe

Class L: A Tribute to Stirling Moss — 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

The Moss 300 SLR that won the Mille Miglia also took Best of Show honors.

Sandhills festival canceled

The Sandhills Motoring Festival at Pinehurst, North Carolina, has been canceled for 2020. The 2021 event is scheduled for May 28-30, Memorial Day weekend, event president Marvin Waters II posted on the event website.

Fall car-show calendar

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the fall car-show and concours calendar continues to evolve. Here’s the updated schedule, based on official announcements but subject to change, as of August 11, 2020: 

August 14-16 — Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals, Street Rod Nationals Southeast (Kentucky), New Hope car show (Pennsylvania),

August 19-20 — London Concours

August 21-23 — Morgan Adams Concours d’Elegance (Colorado), Geneva (Illinois) Concours d’Elegance, Street Rod Route 66 Nationals (New Mexico), AACA Grand Nationals (Pennsylvania), Arthritis Foundation car show (Dublin, Ohi0)

August 27-30 — Corvettes at Carlisle, Fountain Valley (California)

September 4-7 (Labor Day weekend) — Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance, Lime Rock Historic Festival, Groesbeck Grand Prix Festival of Motoring (Texas), Crescent Beach Concours d’Elegance, Royal Concours of Elegance (England)

September 11-13 — AAA Glidden Tour (Sarasota Springs, New York), Vail Classic, Wisconsin Dells Automotion

September 18-20 — New York City Concours, LaJolla Concours d’Elegance, Street Rod Nationals Northeast (Vermont), Arizona FuelFest, Balfour Car Show (Denver), Holley MOPARty (Bowling Green, Kentucky)

September 25-27 — Salon Prive (England), Telluride Festival, Ironstone Concours d’Elegance (California), St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance (Maryland), Goodguys Lone Star Nationals (Texas), Catskill Conquest Rally (New York)

October 2-4 — Fall Carlisle, Street Rod Nationals South (Knoxville, Tennessee), Goodguys Del Mar Nationals (California), Jagstravaganza Concours (California), Holley Ford Intergalactic Festival (Bowling Green, Kentucky)

October 9-11 — Zoute Grand Prix and Concours (Belgium), AACA Eastern Fall Nationals (car show only), Chico Concours d’Elegance (California)

October 16-18 — Goodwood Speed Week, Keels & Wheels, Lake Mirror Concours d’Elegance (Florida), Mid-American Street Rod Nationals (Missouri)

October 19-23 — AACA Central Divisional Tour (Oklahoma)

October 23-25 — Japanese Classic (Long Beach, California), Charlotte Auto Fair

October 30-November 1 — Copperstate 1000 vintage rally car show, Western Street Rod Nationals (Bakersfield, California)

To share news of your local car shows and cruises, email [email protected]

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
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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