For most of the world, Christmas comes on December 25, but if you're of the automotive persuasion, chances are you mark your calendar for the first week of November. That's when SEMA (the Specialty Equipment Market Association) holds it's annual bacchanal at the Las Vegas convention center. For us in the industry, SEMA is the single most important event of the year, where new products for our favorite cars are introduced and old friends become reacquainted.

Every year holds something different, and 2003 was a windfall year with many cool products being debuted. As the years go by, the SEMA show becomes increasingly diverse, with more products for specialty niches than ever before. (Looking for an electronic fuel-injection set-up for a 401 AMC? Yeah, it's there!) Show organizers have also wisely grouped similar product categories together to make your show visit more productive.

Popular Hot Rodding's parent company, Primedia, had a large booth on the main convention floor that was a favorite with showgoers. Visitors could drop by and rub shoulders with their favorite editor or ad salesman. (Okay, maybe that last part didn't happen.) You could watch an episode of Hot Rod Television being taped on Primedia's live set, check out the many project cars (including Project "X"), chit chat with one of our many beautiful female Primedia employees, or pick up a stack of your favorite magazines.

Besides all the new parts and project cars, there were plenty of after-hours social events and lots of eye candy of the non-mechanical variety. If you were feeling lucky, there was also plenty of action on the casino floor and the sports book, but the biggest gamble of all was to miss out entirely on this year's SEMA show. Luckily, you'll have the chance to make it to SEMA's 2004 show, so mark your calendar for November 2 - 5, 2004!