2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada: Ludacris Legend, Galpin ILX, & World Record Volvo

Odometer (Legend):  540,089


Odometer (Ludacris’ Legend):  246,080


Odometer (ILX):


Trip Distance:  616 Miles


Viva Las Vegas!  Or was it “Lo$t Wages”?

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has been around since 1963 and is a huge trade group centered around the automotive aftermarket industry.  It’s grown to a colossal size with over 6,300 member companies.  Its largest trade show, held every year at the Las Vegas Convention Center, occupies more than a half-million square feet of space.

SEMA week puts every “car geek” into a candy store.  Its full week of activities bring every participant the sights, sounds, and yes – even smells, of the automotive industry.  I’m talking about these scented Little Trees, and they’ve been around since 1952 when this first version on display was created.  What’s your favorite scent?


This wasn’t my first SEMA rodeo.  Here are write-ups from years prior:

This year’s show included some special components which I was excited to see:  The Acura display booth contained the now-fully-restored 1993 Acura Legend sedan that belongs to 20-million-fan music artist Ludacris, as well as a highly modified 2016 Acura ILX in vivid Sunburst Yellow with a host of performance and cosmetic upgrades.  Legends and ILXs?  It’s like they structured show content around exactly the type of content that would interest me!


My friend Chris described the SEMA experience as “It’s like being at the mall on Black Friday.”  It’s overwhelming to be among the crowds, with all the suppliers clamoring for your business with “Look at me!” signage and fanfare.  Another friend, Nina, calculated that if you walked the entire floorplan of the 4 gigantic convention rooms plus the outside areas and the adjoining hallways, it would be the equivalent of completing a marathon.  I’ll have to throw on a GPS watch someday and validate that claim.  My legs believe it.


I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday night after an uneventful 4.5 hour drive from the Phoenix area in my Legend.  I met up with long-time friend Tommy who’d made a similar distance from LA that same afternoon.  Later in the the evening, famed HondaPro Jason (pictured with me above) made his arrival into the McCarran Airport from a Chicago flight.  Jason has made a name for himself as “THE” Honda guy over the past few years since his YouTube channel launched in 2012.  Today, he has 32,000 subscribers and 27,000 followers on his Facebook page.  Jason’s flight arrived around midnight, so I played Shuttle Driver for him as well as for Jeff of Temple of VTEC.


Tuesday’s two key events for me were two Honda press conferences:  The first was at 9:30 a.m. to showcase Honda’s latest news in off-road / Baja racing with an all-new Honda Ridgeline pickup truck, scheduled for its first race in less than two weeks.  The second was a 20-minute presentation at 1:00 p.m. by Acura Senior Vice President Jon Ikeda as well as Creative Director Dave Marek.  Jon and Dave introduced two exciting vehicles to the crowd of media and industry personnel who were assembled there.


The first car was Ludacris‘ 1993 Legend, newly reborn since a June 2015 accident left it damaged on the right rear quarter panel.  I had some Q&A time with Dave after the conference and received some insights into the specifics of the build.  His intent was to bring the car back to its former glory as well as add a few touches to make it even better.  He succeeded in every aspect.



Among improvements to the Legend are the following:

  • H&R Springs
  • Eibach Camber Kit
  • 18 Inch Rays Wheels on Bridgestone Potenza Tires
  • Wilwood 6-Piston Front / 4-Caliper Rear Brakes
  • Fresh Paint and Leather
  • Pioneer AVIC 8 / ONEX Head Unit with Apple CarPlay
  • Alpine Subwoofer

The second car was a vivid orange 2016 ILX, outfitted with a body kit, an aggressively modified suspension and custom wheels – as one would expect at SEMA.  The details extended to the interior where the stitching on the seats and steering wheel was matched in the same orange color.  The ILX, which was customized by Galpin Auto Sports,  will be given away as part of a charity event for the Ludacris Foundation which since 2001 has provided tens of thousands of hours into service projects and youth development activities.


I had to stop and catch my breath for about 20 minutes while I charged my phone and scarfed down a $13 piece of pepperoni pizza in the food court.  Then it was back to battle where I wandered around to see a few more sights and meet up with friends.  By 4:30, Jason and I departed from the hustle and bustle to prepare for an exclusive evening activity with the Honda and Acura executives.  We were able to participate at an intimate dinner at MGM Grand’s “Hakkasan” Nightclub with a dozen or more of the company’s highest-ranking leaders.  They were incredibly approachable and I enjoyed the dialogue and the food!  Honda threw a big “soiree” later that evening out on the dance floor, and hundreds of people came out to party.



On Day 2, I woke up to rare rain in Las Vegas and made my way to the AAPEX Show, similar to SEMA and containing a lot of the same content, but located at the Sands Convention Center several blocks away.  The main reason I needed to drop in was that I’d learned Irv Gordon was in attendance.  Irv achieved fame by logging over 3,000,000 miles on his red 1966 Volvo P1800.  That feat was enough to put him in the Guinness Book of World Records.  In fact, he’s been the world record holder since 1998 when his car had only 1.69 million miles on it.  I wish I’d met Irv, but sadly the Castrol booth only featured his car.


My last stop before skipping out of town was next door to Castrol at the Car-Freshner display where I got a whiff of the new 2016 scents.  The product specialist on duty invited me into a phone booth of sorts, where I pressed a button and the smells activated.  My favorite was definitely “Copper Canyon.”  Now, if only they invited “scratch & sniff” computer monitors so you could all be smelling it with me!


My Legend rolled 540,000 miles on the way home to Phoenix.  Fitting, since it was also November 4th of exactly 4 years ago when the car rolled 500,000 at Acura’s red-carpet party.  Thanks for joining for this year’s SEMA trip.  Enjoy my photos and a short video below!

Here’s a pit stop on Highway 93 where I stopped between Kingman, AZ and Hoover Dam.  Irv’s picture on top, mine on bottom!


With Acura Public Relations Manager, Jessica Fini


Having a seat in Ludacris’ Legend!


Creative Director Dave Marek, myself, and Public Relations’ Allie Mayer


Dave explains the ins & outs of the Legend build with some Legend fans


I presented this note to the Acura team and asked them to leave it inside the car somewhere for Ludacris.


Close-up on those beefy front brakes


Galpin ILX rear 3/4 view.  I dig that spoiler!


The 2017 NSX in “Nouvelle Blue Pearl.”  Stunning!


Other sights from SEMA:  This “Car Capsule.”  Who else desperately wants one of these as much as I do?


Very clean Toyota Supra


Monster truck outside


Meeting up with my buddy Joey from the Atlanta area


Acura VP Jon Ikeda


RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham, and my friend (fellow Legend owner) Tommy


This was my first time seeing the newly-launched 10th-generation Honda Civic sedan.  Nice!


Pretty wild custom Honda HRV


Cruising down the Vegas Strip.  4.1 miles long, with 62,000 hotel rooms!


Walking over to the nighttime event at MGM Grand


Romeo and Lou, fellow Legend fans


Rainy morning at my motel on Wednesday in Las Vegas


Getting up close & personal with Irv Gordon’s 3-million-mile Volvo


And lastly, that awesome Car-Freshner booth!


22 Responses to “2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada: Ludacris Legend, Galpin ILX, & World Record Volvo”

  1. Sorry you didn’t run into Irv… But your coverage (and note to Ludacris) is great!

    • Hey Mark, I really would have loved to shake Irv’s hand. Immediately following the Acura conference, I ran over to the Castrol booth hoping to find him there since it was the opening day of the show. That’s when I learned that he wasn’t at SEMA – he was at AAPEX, a few blocks away. Darn.

      I’m at least glad I was able to see his car. One of the things that I loved most about the display of his P1800 was that they didn’t even clean his stuff out of it! All his “road trip essentials” – INCLUDING a Hemmings magazine – were inside the car. Check it!

  2. Looks like a bladst! Loving Ludas beautifully restored Legend and that gorgeous ILX! Holy eye candy!

  3. Hi Tyson!

    Congrats that you got hit 540,000 miles on your Legend coupe!! Yay! Great pictures of many cars and future cars. I saw 1966 red Volvo on YouTube before and he was driving his Volvo many years. It was so awesome car and still running strong! I can’t believe it! I enjoyed read your blog. 🙂

    • Hi Josh, how are you? Thanks for taking a look at my pics. Yes the Legend is still doing well at 540,000 but it needs to be washed now since it rained all the way back from Las Vegas to Phoenix yesterday. Someday I really need to meet Irv and see if he’ll let me put a few miles on his Volvo 🙂

      • I’m doing good, thank you. Oh yeah I saw picture of your Legend during rain outside. That was good idea to washed it after driving home from Las Vegas. I know you always keep your Legend coupe clean all the time lol. Yeah, it would be nice to meet Ivy. Is he wasn’t there on the event?

      • I meant yeah, it would be awesome to meet Irv someday. I got wrong spelled his name. Oops.

  4. They did a fantastic job with Luda’s Legend… But it’s no 6SPD or THACURA…

  5. What a restoration they did on the legend. If only now that the Acura R&D team has done one over, we can have them take care of some other enthusiasts’ legends in the same manner…the few loyal enthusiasts out here with a little less means to do so. 🙂

    • Haha, I’ll get in line first! I’d love to have them do a full refresh on all mine. There is a place in Japan that does that for NSXs actually. I bet it’s super $pendy!

  6. One of these day’s I’ll make it out to SEMA. So much candy there! Though a marathon of walking sounds pretty intense.

    • I saw a few people tooling around on little mobility scooters like Rascals and such. Maybe we should invest in one of those. Try and get to SEMA in 2016 – it’s worth the trip!

  7. Ludacris’ Legend looks absolutely amazing and props to Acura for restoring it! Since you have been driving the Legend for the last couple of trips, how does it compare to the ILX for roadtrips? Do you prefer one over the other?

    • The two cars are very different with regard to the driving situations in which they excel. I prefer the ILX around town for its zippy powertrain and nimble suspension, as well as great city MPG. I prefer the Legend for its very smooth long-distance capabilities. It revs low at highway speed, it has a very plush suspension, and the stereo system is a little better. So I guess my answer is “it depends” 🙂

  8. I looks like a great time! I’m glad you were there to capture and relay the high points for those of us in the family who don’t make these kinds of events.

    Keep up the good work.


    • Thanks Rich! Always glad to take everyone along for the ride who wasn’t able to be there. I wish I’d had more than a day to experience SEMA but did the best I could to document what was going on. Hope your weekend goes well!

  9. Todd and I decided the color of that Honda HRV is Pepto-Bismol. It was really…. pink! I should have retraced your steps. Did you know Bentley had his truck in the show (parked outside)?

    • I really wasn’t a huge fan of that Pepto-Bismol HRV! It was a little over-the-top. Glad you and Todd made it down there. I had a dream about Bentley’s truck last night actually! I never did see it at the show, but I know it was there.

  10. Truly rubbing elbows with the big guys at Acura!! LOL
    Maybe one of those guys will pass on your half a million mile Legend story to Ludacris. Looks and sounds like you have a good time!

    • Yeah we’ll see if my little scrawled note actually finds its way to Luda! Better yet, if he actually responds. It was a great couple of days in Vegas. Hope your weekend is going well!

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