“Maarten” boarding the flight to Vegas

GTspirit was trusting enough to allow me to represent them as the sole media personnel from the company especially since it was my first show ever with them. Unfortunately, due to my university school life, I was late to SEMA this year by two full days. If I’ve learnt anything within the first 24 hours it’s this- being media is awesome. Forget the cars for a second let me start from the beginning.

I registered for SEMA a couple weeks ago along with booking my accommodations and flight details. At the time another GTspirit staff, Maarten was planning on joining me, however, due to school he was not able to make it out from Europe when SEMA neared. This left me flying solo for SEMA- not that I minded. In fact I asked Maarten to send me a close up picture of himself in order for me to have him with me in spirit in my photos- you’ll see what I mean later in the article. The night before I flew out, GTspirit received this in it’s twitter feed.

Tweet from Ford

Ford’s drifting superstar Vaughn Gittin Jr- personally drifting me around the track? Yes please. Unfortunately the stars did not align completely, as I soon found out moments before I boarded my plane in Vancouver, I would be arriving 15 minutes after the last VIP media drive with Vaughn Gittin Jr.

When I finally did arrive to SEMA, an hour and 15 minutes after the last media drift slot, I stubbornly waved my media pass at people wearing Ford shirts at the demonstration tent. Miraculously, I was allowed in the sectioned off VIP area. The general viewing area surrounded the entire parkade. It can be somewhat uncomfortable to watch from that perspective as the audience are squished against each other in order to see the cars going sideways. One of the main Ford coordinators repeated the message from earlier to me describing the circumstance- Vaughn Gittin Jr was going to put on a demonstration at 3:00. No more rides- that was it. Luckily for me, The Ford staff was extremely hospitable and instead booked me in for the first available copiloting slot for the next drifting session. They even gave me a F150 hat. I don’t like hats, but it’s the thought that counts.

“Maarten” having fun drifting in the Shelby Cobra

With an hour to burn before my drift session, I finally stepped foot inside of SEMA. Earlier in the past week, I reached out online to a number of online communities such as Facebook, Instagram, and even going as far as emailing companies asking if they had any industry events. Industry events is simply code for party during a work trip. I had a mixture of really helpful responses such as people that worked in the automotive industry, to even doormen from exclusive nightclubs reach out. One event that stood out was the I Did It Inc party which featured a live performance by Sir Mix-A-Lot.

With SEMA closing at 5:00 PM sharp, it was on me to find their booth to retrieve my VIP media pass to get in to Moon Nightclub at the Palms Hotel later that night. The best way to describe SEMA to those that have never been- it’s big. It’s really big. It’s so big the directory book handed out to attendees looks similar to a book from the Harry Potter series as it listed every exhibitor at the show. It took me quite a while to find the appropriate booth as, but eventually received my tickets.

I immediately went back to the Ford demonstration track and talked to some of the other people that were in the line up. The people behind me came back specifically a second time as there were some mechanical issues with some of the cars in the previous day. Ford handed out wristbands in order to prevent their tent from being over run with fans. Only a handful of wristbands were given out to a lucky few. The cars that were taking people drifting included a Shelby Cobra, a Ford Daytona, and a Roush Mustang. As my turn came closer, they informed me that the Roush was giving rides exclusively to Roush corporate staff and that I was going to be driven in the Shelby Cobra. No complaints at all. The ride was quite spectacular, not that I’m complaining, but Vaughn Gittin Jr drifting would have been epic.

Immediately afterwards, I went to grab a taxi as the “SEMA rush”, 130 thousand attendees, causes a traffic jam at 5:00 everyday when it closes. The length of the line was growing longer by the second, some people had to wait upwards of 30 minutes in order to get a cab. I did learn something interesting while waiting in line- attendees can pay SEMA “a lot of money” to obtain VIP status for the taxi line; which in essence is simply skipping the line entirely. I’ll keep that in mind for next year.

The taxi lineup when SEMA closes

As SEMA came to a close, my night was just about to get started. Since Canada does not have In-N-Outs, and since I haven’t had it in a year, I decided that it would be the best restaurant to kick off my trip. It was totally worth it. Maarten agrees.

First meal since arriving in Vegas

I then went over to LVH as the SCRS Repairer Driven Education: Sky Villa After-Party was about to start. Security was very relaxed. I realized I could’ve not paid the 85$ admission fee entirely as no one checked for my ticket. As the name says, the party was located in one of the sky villas of the hotel- sky villa meaning monster hotel suite upwards of 13000 square feet and 15000 dollars per night. I somewhat regretted eating In-N-Out as there was an abundance of foods to choose from, ranging from roast beef, sushi, desserts, and even crab legs; but then again who regrets eating In-N-Out? No one, that’s who. Before I left to continue on with my night, I had a quick drink as the bar was open. In many ways, this was the fastest 85 dollars I’ve ever spent as I had no food, and half of a very strong rum and coke.

Afterparty at the monstrous LVH Tuscanny Sky Villa

Open bar, count “Maarten” in.

Too full to eat the complimentary crab legs

I quickly made my way to the Palms Hotel as the Goldrush Rally crew were premiering for the first time their feature film in collaboration with Format67. As I made my way in to the shark-tanked decorated waiting room, after being greeted by one of the event organizers Aimee Shackleford, I realized I was standing in possibly the most influential room in all of Vegas. Having a good laugh friends at the door was Team Salamone. Further in, to the side smiling, possibly due to the success of his wide body 458 kit, and chatting in Japanese was Wataru Kato, president of Liberty Walk. On the other side of the room was social media celebrity BC, the owner of the Pur Blanc curiously nicknamed Panda. Near the centre of the room, with his gold plated Iphone, was celebrity L.A automotive photographer Dirk Abinakad. The list goes on and on and on. After some time, the group was directed to make it’s way to the theatre and watch the stunning documentary. More on that in the coming days-

“#Goldblooded” 24k Gold plated IPhone 5

L.A, Automotive Photographer Dirk Abinakad

“Maarten” hanging out with Team Salamone

Messing around with Liberty Walk president Wataru Kato

With the somewhat distracted BC

Opening scene of the Goldrush Rally film shot by Format67

After the show, Goldrush Rally photographer extraordinaire Mo Satarzadeh mentioned that the Goldrush Rally crew were going to go out afterwards and that I should come along. I mentioned I made plans to go see Sir-Mix-A-Lot since Moon Nightclub was conveniently inside the same hotel as where we had just watched the documentary. I told him I’d meet up with the Goldrush Rally crew immediately after I attended Sir Mix-A-Lot’s performance.

Photographer of Goldrush Rally, Mo

I Did It Inc’s party at Moon Nightclub was great fun. Although there was a heavy presence of males… and beards. When 12:30 AM came around, Sir Mix-A-Lot came out on stage and started his 30 minute performance. That’s one off the bucket list.

Soaking in the night life with Sir Mix-A-Lot

Immediately after the Sir Mix-A-Lot show, I made my way to Tryst, an exclusive nightclub inside Wynn hotel. Apparently, Forgiato Wheels created a secret password which allowed close friends and friends of Goldrush Rally to skip the line entirely and have their cover fees waived. The people who had been waiting in line ahead of me were not impressed with me. I didn’t care, by this point I felt like I was living in a movie. I made my way down the stairs towards the entrance of the club with written instructions given to me by the manager of the door which instructed the doorman to allow me in immediately.

Free pass at Tryst Nightclub thanks for Forgiato and Goldrush Rally

Upon entering the tunnel like entrance, I was immersed in a world unlike any other I’ve ever seen. The size of the club was massive. as you walk in you feel a cool breeze as the club is partially open to the outside. A giant waterfall splashes in to the light up pool behind the DJ booth which oversees the dance floor.

I made a sharp left and immediately recognized faces from earlier from my night. Team Salamone as per usual was entertaining some party goers, people were dancing on couches, drinks were flowing, and at some point, someone decided to throw wads of dollar bills everywhere as if it were confetti. The security did not enjoy the mess.

“Maarten” is thoroughly impressed that there is a waterfall in the nightclub

Remnants of “making it rain” with the Goldrush Rally crew

Goldrush Rally crew member wanted in on the “Maarten” action

After a couple drinks and laughs with Goldrush Rally members I trekked back to the hotel to call it a night- after all I’m here as media for SEMA.


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