Hi everyone, I’m sorry it’s been a while since the Pebble Beach post in August. This post is regarding the SEMA show held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Annual GT Awards which is now in its 12th year. Las Vegas is all about the Casinos, but some of you may remember from GT4 that we had a Las Vegas Strip drag course, complete with bright neon lights.
We left Japan in the fall a week before, took care of some business in Europe just beginning winter where Christmas illuminations were starting to go up, then moved on to Vegas. That might be why I was having trouble taking in the reality of myself actually standing there in that city, with the bright white desert sun that relentlessly pokes at your eyes and skin, the forever blue skies, the multitude of bright colored neon, and the peculiar atmosphere of the place that feels like desire and greed runs everything.
SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, a business show of aftermarket parts for buyers and media. It is held annually in the first part of November across 4 days, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The SEMA show actually started over 40 years ago at the Dodgers Stadium of Los Angeles in 1967, and moved its venue to Anaheim, and then to Las Vegas since 1977. Of all the business conferences and trade shows held throughout the year in Vegas, this is one of the largest around.
Looking across the cars in the show floor, you get the impression of the kind of relentless power that drives someone to make a town in the middle of the desert, and the sense of that unleashed freedom seems like something that is inseparable from American custom car culture.
In 2002, we created the GT Awards at the SEMA show after releasing Gran Turismo 3. It has been 12 years since. Together with people inside the North American Automotive industry and Journalists, 5 category winners including the Best Truck/SUV, Best American, Best Hot Rod, Best European Import, Best Asian Import are selected, and out of those, Kazunori Yamauchi selects the Best of Show. That winning car will be included in a future edition of Gran Turismo to be driven by players all around the world.
So let me introduce the category winners of the 2014 SEMA GT Awards.
First up is Best Truck/SUV: The judge for this category was off-road racing legend, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart.
This truck was originally owned by Bill Scarfe, the father of Tyler Scarfe who is the owner of HPI Customs. It had been abandoned for years in the midst of customization, and Tyler received this car from his father. However for SEMA this year, Tyler’s team took 6 months to customize this truck again from the ground up as a surprise gift for his father Bill, and gave it back to him. So it’s not just a custom car, there was this heartwarming story of father and son behind the truck.
You wouldn’t know it from the cute, classic exterior, but the cockpit is very modern. The steering wheel is equipped with a paddle shifter, and it is equipped with A/C.
Best Asian Import: The judge was automotive designer Troy Sumitomo.
For GReddy this is their 3rd GT Award won, and 2 in a row counting this year.
The GT-R is already referred to as the Godzilla, but now it’s got more muscle and even more ferocious. With twin turbo’s, the car produces over 1000hp!
Best European Import: The judge was famed Porsche restorer, Magnus Walker.
Compared to other cars at the show, the selection of the Golf base car, and its intentionally reserved styling that is in contrast with its extreme 740HP power, really shows the “sleeper” philosophy behind HPA. They have actually won the Best of Show twice in the past.
Best Hot Rod: The judge was Robert MacGaffin of Hot Rod Magazine
Personally I was excited by this car the most. It was like your grandpa got plastic surgery and a face lift and took some protein and steroids to pump up his muscles to the very limits of the human body. 3500HP! The number is just unfathomable and I can’t even begin to imagine how this thing accelerates.
Best American: The judge was Erick Ayapana of Motor Trend, and the Best of Show Selection made by Kazunori Yamauchi
And finally, the American Domestic Category winner, the 1970 Chevy Camaro Rampage built by The Roadster Shop. This car was selected for the Best of Show this year. Congratulations! Can’t wait to see it in GT.
The Award Ceremony was held in the Drai’s night club inside the Cromwell hotel.
The punk band from California, Social Distortion brought up the heat in the awards ceremony venue.