7:00 AM -- Chevron breakfast at the Venetian. Got the download on fuel additives that can help clean deposits from injectors, valves, and fuel-sending units that usually suffer from bad or cheap fuel. Especially needed for older cars. The before and after, old and new, dirty and clean photos are the most telling. Not sure I'll ever buy gas from Costco again.
8:55 AM -- From the looks of the various OEs spread out over the show, Ford looks to be the winner this year, but still need to get over to Toyota. The project Flexes (including our own Motor Trend Flex) are all over the place, and the Raptor intro has a lot of people talking. Clearly Ford has the biggest booth but it's also done the best job filling it with significant and cool vehicles.
9:15 AM -- Did some video with MT.com at the Mopar booth. Last year they made a big deal about all their Mopar Underground lifts and slamming performance parts. This year they said nothing about how sales have been going but did build four new Rams with off-the-shelf parts. Nice but just basic lifted and street truck offerings. Nothing special.
10:00 AM -- Finished Gran Turismo Award judging. I picked a custom classic '38 Chevy pickup for the Truck/SUV category. Too bad more trucks didn't enter. There were quite a few crazy monsters all over the show.
10:10 AM -- Got to listen to Barry Meguiar talk about some of his new waxes and detail products. We've been using their stuff for years for photo shoots. Now he says he has moisture repell that can push water uphill. That might be looney.
10:45 a.m. -- Stopped at the Avery Dennison booth that was putting a protective plastic all over a Lambo. Looked easy with thick front and side protection. We might need that for some long-termers.
11:15 AM -- First moment I've had to spend in Toyota booth. WOW! Ducati Tundra is crazy with custom bike bed and luscious interior. Stealth Black Tundra has all the TRD stuff on it and will do a 4.4 0-60, that's what we tested one as having. Desert Racer Tacoma has an independent rear suspension, is 7 in. wider, has a 2-in. lift, and a S/C. (Sounds like somebody was watching Raptor.) Four-cylinder 4x4 with an auto Tacoma doesn't exist now (used to) so this is how the SEMA builders give the engineers a push. And to top it all off, they've used a color scheme from the late '80s. Also here is a new FJ package with BFGs, bead locks, black rims and a unique interior. Definitely need to yell at someone at Toyota for not making a bigger deal about what they brought. And why didn't they let us know ahead of time?
11:30 AM -- Not many clothing or apparel companies at SEMA but did have a great chat with the head guy at Piloti. Very cool racing shoe that looking to branch out. If you haven't seen one before, check them out. Every car guy should have one pair. Would make great Christmas gift for anyone -- hint, hint. Sure wish my wife read my blogs.
12:00 PM -- Nothing like a convention center lunch: two-day old chicken Caesar wrap with stale Famous Amos cookies, and a headache-killing Mountain Dew. Decided to only eat two bites of the wrap, hoping to avoid the previous day's bowl highlights.
1:30 PM -- Greatest thing about SEMA is the chance we journos get to wander the aisles and look at all the overhyped, overpromising crud... But every once in a while we stumble across some new product where even the owner or designer doesn't realize how good their product is. I saw three of those things today. The first was called R4Tech air-over-leaf suspension replacement from Firestone Industries for one-ton pickups. It's $2000 but changes everything for guys who use their trucks to haul and daily drive. Second is a fun light fixture that shines from under your truck any logo, bright light, or design you want. Clever and full of potential. Finally, we saw a spin-on magnetic filter accessory that will easily double the cleaning power of any standard oil filter. This will be a fun one to watch in the coming years.
2:30 PM -- Why is it that when I'm late for a meeting in a different hall, the slowest walkers are always meandering down the aisle I've just chosen? Ugh. I don't care what anyone says; this year's show was crowded.
2:31 PM -- Quote of the day... "People will always spend money on things that help define who they are." That's true for me and I sure hope that's true for other auto enthusiasts.
3:30 PM -- Have to give the big Win-of-Show to Raptor and the monster Ford display. The entire stage was packed all day. However, I think Toyota gets the Biggest-Bang-for-the-Buck award: no press conference and at least six great, well-built vehicles in their booth.
5:00 PM -- Finish the day with two blisters, a sore hand-shaking hand, and a tweaked lower back. The drive home will be about decompression, planning upcoming stories, and setting the seat heaters on high. Another SEMA in the books.