Is Chevy’s Absence From SEMA Just An Echo From A Bygone Era?

Just this week, Bow Tie enthusiasts from coast to coast stared at the updated floor plan of the main hall of the SEMA show and were awed at the fact that Chevrolet was not among those listed to display their wares at the annual event held in November. Truth be told, neither Chevrolet nor Chevrolet Performance is listed among those with intent to display. Ford and Honda have also decided to sit this one out as well, but I digress.

The news first hit the internet when Muscle Cars & Trucks noted that Chevy wasn’t listed in its usual place on the floor map. The only admission from the Blue Box was a statement from a Chevrolet spokesperson that stated, “GM has made the decision not to participate in the 2022 SEMA Show. The SEMA show has always inspired us, and accessories and performance parts remain an important part of our business.”

Toyota now resides in the spot where GM has exhibited for years. Ford’s full-frontal spot now simply reads “SEMA”.

While on the surface, this may appear very similar to the meteor that awed the dinosaurs as it appeared over the prehistoric horizon. We don’t think the term “extinction” has any bearing in this conversation, but if we were to look back into the not-so-distant past, we may find that this current scenario only confirms that, “All things old are new again.”

Only some of the more “seasoned” of our readers may remember when GM entered into a gentleman’s agreement with other OEMs, to pull back from the heat of competition. For those who are hearing of this for the first time, here’s a good read about some of what transpired when everyone was searching for speed and no one was talking about it.

The Automobile Manufacturers Association placed a ban on factory-supported racing back in the late ’50s. Supposedly, the OEMs were out of racing because the sport had fallen out of vogue due to some horrific accidents. While truly sorrowful, the events were the catalyst that created the groundswell response. The intended result was those car manufacturers would focus on making safer cars and the non-factory teams would have to figure it out. Which they did – with the help of the OEMs.

Chevrolet contributed to "Project X's" latest iteration with full electrification.

Some of the most valuable cars and most amazing stories were germinated in this supposedly-sterile period of racing. During this time, experimental parts were sifted out through semi-closed back doors and many engineers decided to take group vacations on exotic islands that just so happened to have racetracks on them, luggage bags full of one-off, hi-po parts! Once parts started flowing out through dealerships’ front doors again, they had their own counter space with which to do so.

Is Performance Walking Out The Back Door Again?

So, here we are, staring at a floorplan that doesn’t have any mention of Chevrolet or Chevrolet Performance. Chevy was once one of the big players of the SEMA event and even hosted an event at the opening of the show to highlight all the concept cars built specifically for the event. If history has shown us anything, it proves that while Chevy may not have an area marked off on the showroom floor, it WILL be there in spirit, enthusiasm, and support!

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R race car

At a point when the landscape is most expensive when rented by the square foot, perhaps Chevrolet may be making a bigger splash with their bucks by shoring up relationships with those working down into the trenches of the performance industry. Will performance parts start walking out the back door as they did back in the early ’60s? Maybe not. But, it’s not unlike what we’re seeing with Chevrolet’s new Corvette Z06 GT3.R racecar. Chevrolet is offering a turn-key, customer-focused, racing Corvette for competition in a wide variety of GT3 championships. The factory-backed C8.R will no longer be the only C8 Corvettes taking on the world. In fact, some are wondering if it will continue to race once the GT3.R car becomes available. Either way, privateers will now have the opportunity once again to wave the fleur-de-lis in competition around the globe.

The Connection Between Dinosaurs, Clean Air, And Plug-ins.

Just like each time we’ve seen pull-back from the General, we note that performance abhors a vacuum, and enthusiasts within the camp always have a way of doling out a few more ponies. While GM’s response as to why it is no longer listed as an exhibitor doesn’t give any real indicator for the decision, many are surmising the perfect storm of shutdowns, sheltering-in-place, and silicon chip shortages may have been the largest contributing factor.

The Chevy Off-Road Concept shows that wild concept cars are still the rage at SEMA.

One also has to consider GM’s logo-shifting commitment to electrification and how that will play into further promotion within a world of internal combustion? One thing is for sure, while that meteor may only be racing across the sky as it rockets through the automotive world’s atmosphere, we are definitely on the horizon of change.

More Sources

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
Read My Articles