What follows are the collected Blackberry notes I made from my first full day from the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. They are short because I have fat thumbs, and they're not very deep because neither am I, at least when my feet are aching. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that many of these notes were made under the glaring eye of various sales guys who have been put under significant pressure by their bosses as advertising revenue gets harder and harder to come by. If the notes are too cryptic, don't worry. Check out our 2008 SEMA show coverage.
9:00 AM -- Hyundai showed some supercharger tech on a Genesis sedan that boosts up to 100 horsepower and 8 percent mpg gain with cylinder deactivation. Rhys Millen goes racing for Hyundai in a pretty cool looking Genesis coupe.
9:40 AM -- Honda will offer Mugen racing parts at select dealerships. They had a race-prepped Pilot and Ridgeline. Well done. Both done by Skilton Race Team. We need to drive both. Element gets a mid model refresh this year.
10:40 AM -- Ford booth has some great trucks but how many sport trucks and lifted trucks do we have to look at each year? SEMA should be about creativity, not the same old thing. PML did some cool motor-on-wheel tech with the all-electric F-150 that has a 100 mile range but could have more with I-4 (EcoBoost?) on-board generator motor. Raptor made big entrance for SVT. Who is the German guy at Ford who heads the communications/engineering? Sounds a little odd to have the accent introducing American trucks. DeWalt F-150 is cool.
11:30 AM -- VW at SEMA for first time and looks like they brought a good contingent with them. Heard quite a few German speakers around the show. Europe seems to be getting more involved. Could be good opportunity for some U.S. companies. Turbo Tiguan with 300 hp looks pretty good.
12:05 PM -- Crowds are down but big aisles and big players still crowd the halls. Wheel and tire hall is not even full. Empty room in the back of hall. Still plenty of media all over, and more video than I've ever seen.
1:30 PM -- Subaru has a few concept Foresters that push their crossover ID over the limits into hardcore 4x4 territory. Honda is doing the same thing at their booth. Why do they do this? So confusing. Aren't the benefits of a crossover enough to keep them from pretending to be something they were never designed to be; in fact, their very existence is about celebrating the fact they aren't like hardcore SUVs. I'm not bitter though.
2:15 PM -- Have seen tons of very cool new products that need to be highlighted in future issues. Extang, Amp Research, Masterlock, ARB, RBP, and more.
3:30 PM -- Crowds still seem strong by the afternoon. Many talking about big voter turnout. Looks like most people who want to talk about politics are Obama people. Makes sense. His vision of U.S. strikes me a little pessimistic but his message is clearly making a lot of people feel good. Wonder if he or Joe Biden will ever make a stop to the SEMA floor.
4:30 PM -- Mopar had the emptiest press conference I've ever seen. Some TV geek with stupid jokes and stories went on and on and apparently couldn't be loud enough. Couldn't make it to the end.
5:00 PM -- Think my favorite stretch of walkway is Mopar Alley that connects South and Central Halls. All the classic rides are there, including an old Power Wagon, Little Red Truck, and Custom Sport Special pickup.
5:25 PM -- Las Vegas Hilton as a home base works out pretty well, especially if you get hit with stomach cramps from bad shrimp the night before. Barely made it back to my room. Thank goodness it is close to convention center. Too much info I'm guessing.
6:30 PM -- Stopped by the annual Honda party. Was going pretty well when I got there, and did see several scantily clad ladies coaxing unsuspecting men to take pictures with them against a green, felt background. Instant pictures pop out of machine with tropical backgrounds. My only thought was that this could be evidence my wife could use against me. I stayed away from the seductresses.
7:00 PM -- The actual show floor didn't look any less crowded to me at the show but maybe a more telling detail could be that there are the shortest lines for taxis I've ever seen since I've been coming to SEMA (about 20 years).
7:30 PM -- Finished the night at the annual Mazda party at Morton's Steakhouse, off Paradise Blvd. Pretty good crowd. Several heavy hitters from Road & Track, the main guy from Car and Driver, some radio and TV personalities, someone from Edmunds.com, and myself. I had the chicken for some reason. All the meat looked good.
10:00 -- Back in my room for blogging duties and photo downloads. Tomorrow I start with a breakfast meeting with Chevron. Can't wait. Until tomorrow.