November 1998

SAN and SEMA Councils to Honor Hobbyists at SEMA Show

SEMA Councils, specifically the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and the Street Rod Marketing Alliance (SRMA) and the SEMA Action Network (SAN) will honor selected car club representatives at the SEMA Awards Reception and Banquet, Thursday, November 5, in Las Vegas. The honors will be given to the club and its SAN representative for achievements or outstanding efforts in supporting legislative or regulatory battles of relevance to SRMA, ARMO and SAN. This year the honors will go to Bill Buck, former president, Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council; Scott Cedergreen, Washington Car Club Council; and Helen "Sugar" Fields, East Coast Four Wheel Drive Association.

Bill Buck educated Arizona legislators and regulators about the inefficiencies of scrappage programs and the advantages of emission-system repair and upgrade. As a result, a vehicle scrappage program was killed and the first-ever state legislated program for voluntary repair and retrofit was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jane Hull.

Scott Cedergreen helped secure a rolling exemption for vehicles 25 years old and older from the Washington state I/M program and assisted in amending Washington's proposed vehicle equipment regulations. In addition, he worked to introduce legislation preventing localities from enacting unfair inoperable vehicle ordinances. Finally, Cedergreen has long prodded Washington to create a specific legal definition for street rod and to legalize street rod bodies constructed from nonoriginal material.

Helen "Sugar" Fields played a key role in stopping overly restrictive raised-vehicle legislation in Maryland and across the country. She also helped generate opposition to an inoperable vehicle law in her home state of Ohio. A tremendous networker and effective member of the nationwide four-wheel-drive community, Fields also tirelessly promotes the SAN concept at national and regional club events.

Brian Caudill, SEMA director of outreach and public affairs, commented, "Each of these hobbyists went well beyond the call of duty to help strengthen and protect the automobile hobby. We are proud to honor Bill, Scott and "Sugar's" achievements, and SEMA, SAN and the SEMA councils graciously thank them for their efforts."


Pennsylvania DOT Strives to Find Middle Ground with Hobbyists/Aftermarket

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) recently submitted its revamped vehicle equipment and inspection regulations to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. The Commission was expected to give final approval to the regulations in late October.

Among other things, the regulations remove much of the original equipment bias from provisions covering tires, bumpers and required lighting. It also provides for reasonable bumper and frame height modifications, a major concern for Pennsylvania SAN four-wheel-drive organizations. However, the new regulations only permit ornamental lamps if the lamp, at the time of the vehicle's manufacture, was available as standard or optional equipment from the vehicle manufacturer.

SEMA VP of Government Affairs Chris Kersting commented, "While we are not content with every aspect of this regulation, we appreciate the willingness of the DOT to accept many of the reasonable amendments favored by the Pennsylvania hobbyist community and offered by SEMA. We will continue to participate in the DOT's Safety Inspection Roundtable to further modify and shape the inspection criteria."


Pennsylvania Vehicle Equipment and Inspection Regulations

Ornamental Lighting
Good News: Amended to remove requirements that ornamental lamps must be installed by the vehicle manufacturer.
Bad News: Permits ornamental lamps only if the lamp was available as standard or optional equipment from the vehicle manufacturer at the time of vehicle manufacture.

Required Lighting
Good News: Amended language to delete the reference to lamps "of a type used as original equipment" and replaced with "designed for that specific function," allowing hobbyists to use aftermarket replacement lamps

Ornamental Lighting
Good News: Amended to remove requirements that ornamental lamps must be installed by the vehicle manufacturer.
Bad News: Permits ornamental lamps only if the lamp was available as standard or optional equipment from the vehicle manufacturer at the time of vehicle manufacture.

Cargo Lamps
Bad News: White or clear cargo lamps are permitted only if this type of lamp was available as original equipment.

Motorcycle Lamps
Good News: Amended to allow motorcycles to be equipped with four forward-projecting lamps illuminated during operation. Clarified that rear fog lamps are acceptable if available as original vehicle equipment.

Good News: Amended to add language that permits, in addition to a bumper of a type used as original equipment, the use of a "suitable replacement which is equal to or greater in strength than that provided by the vehicle manufacturer."
Bad News: Determined that recommended terminology of "suitable replacement" bumper could be misinterpreted to permit vehicle owners and the aftermarket industry to design a substandard impact-absorbing system in lieu of a traditional bumper.

Bumpers (Street Rods, Reconstructed, Specially Constructed)
Good News: Allowed vehicles to operate without a bumper, if originally designed without one. Bad News: Rejected language that would allow vehicles to pass inspection without a bumper if the vehicle is designed or engineered to function properly without one.

Bumper/Frame Heights
Good News: Retained reasonable bumper and frame height standards.

Glazing (Street Rod, Reconstructed, Specially Constructed)
Good News: Allowed minimum 7-inch vertical windshield for street rods. Allowed minimum vertical windshield height of 7 to12 inches for reconstructed and specially constructed vehicles if the original design of these vehicles permitted these smaller heights. Bad News: Rejected language that would have allowed minimum 7-inch windshields on reconstructed and specially constructed vehicles.

Tires and Wheels
Good News: Deleted requirement that vehicle tires conform to vehicle manufacturers' specifications relating to tire size. Amended to require tires and rims to have a load rating that is equal to or higher than that available by the vehicle manufacturer.

Tire Treads
Good News: Clarified language to allow permissible fender flares.

Shackle Kits
Good News: Permits the use of spring shackle kits that raise the vehicle no more than 2 inches over the original equipment.

Wheel Spacers
Good News: Amended to allow for a wheel spacer, provided it does not exceed 1/4 inch in thickness.

Good News: Deleted references to original equipment or equivalent replacement. Only requires doors which open and close securely, if so equipped.

Battery Fastening Mechanism
Good News: Deleted references to original equipment or equivalent. Requires battery fastening devices that are specifically designed for the secure fastening of the battery.


Having Fun, Spreading the Word at Indianapolis Four-Wheel-Drive Jamboree

Combine the excitement of a monster truck event and exhibitor booths with hot 4x4 accessories, great food and wild racing, and you would find yourself at one of many 4x4 Jamborees held across the USA. The recent Indianapolis four-wheel-drive event attracted more than 85,000 spectators and 3,800 participants.

Making this event unique was the participation of one very busy lady, SEMA Action Network contact and recording secretary of the East Coast 4 Wheel Drive Association (EC4WDA), Helen "Sugar" Fields. Fields and husband Ken have been four wheeling for 30 years and consistently work to protect the rights of four-wheel-drive enthusiasts on local and national levels.

At a booth designed to educate enthusiasts how to get involved politically with their sport, Fields passed out SAN literature encouraging proactive involvement. Tickets were also sold to win a Jeep raffled off to help raise funds for the EC4WDA. SAN members can take a chance at winning the fully outfitted Jeep Scrambler by visiting http://www.ec4wda.org/raffleje.htm/. To coordinate the annual Jeep raffle, Fields worked with SEMA-member companies to obtain the components needed to accessorize the Jeep.

"Join a club! Get counted! Be involved in your sport before we have nowhere to play," is Fields' advice to four wheelers everywhere. As is the case with any motorized sport, four-wheeling enthusiasts find themselves the targets of ridicule and discrimination. They are being removed from State and National Parks and Forests, the targets of bumper-height legislation in many states, and emission-control regulations, to name only a few of the issues.

At Jamborees, Fields explains, "We try to provide as much information to enthusiasts as possible. A very popular item we distribute is a [SEMA-produced] flip-chart style legislative update that provides state-by-state information on pending laws, regulations and legislation, and who to contact about the issues in each area." Encouraging every four wheeler or four-wheeling family to join a club or local organization, no matter where they play, is the goal of the EC4WDA. The best way to combat unfair rules forcing four wheelers to permanently park their rigs is by banding together.

EC4WDA fights unfair legislation and regulation through letter campaigns. Fields hands out letters for enthusiasts to sign on various topics affecting the four-wheel-drive activities at each Jamboree. The letters are then forwarded to specific state legislators or regulators. "This has been very successful for us in the past, and we will continue to utilize the technique in the future," said Fields.

Attending Jamborees and talking to fellow four-wheeling enthusiasts has provided Fields and those that work with her an avenue to meet and talk to four wheelers, educating all on the issues affecting them in their home states. "The information we gather at these events is priceless. And the friendships forged not only last a lifetime, but provide us with invaluable resources for working proactively to protect the sport we love."


SAN on the Road, NHRA Midwest Hot Rod Reunion

Based on the tremendous success of NHRA Hot Rod Reunions in southern California, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) held its first vintage drag racing event in America's heartland. The Midwest Hot Rod Reunion, held September 25-27 at National Trail Raceway outside Columbus, Ohio, attracted dozens of vintage dragsters from Top Fuel cars to early to mid-60s "doorslammer" racing vehicles.

Ohio drag racing legend "Ohio George" Montgomery served as Grand Marshall and other midwestern drag racing legends including Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins and Connie Kalitta were in attendance. In fact, Kalitta made his presence known by buzzing the tower in his airplane prior to making it to the track!

SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill attended the Midwest Hot Rod Reunion to spread the word about protecting vintage machines. He spent the majority of 2 days walking the track grounds passing out literature and educating drag racing fans about threats to the automobile hobby. In addition, a very effective SAN member, Jesse Davis of Ohio's Cruisin' Times magazine, maintained a booth on the grounds advertising his magazine, which reaches up to 6,000 Ohio car enthusiasts. Davis aided SAN efforts by agreeing to distribute SAN material with his magazine.

Davis described his participation at the event as, "Very successful. There was a good crowd. All the old guys were there, and we were able to pass out all our [and SAN's] material." Davis, however, did mention that drag racers and fans can be a tough crowd to sell the legislative message to because "they are not a street-oriented group. Their biggest issue is noise [regulation]." This may or may not be the case, but drag racers and racing fans are, first and foremost, car enthusiasts. They understand that government actions, such as scrappage programs, can crush vintage race and parts cars before they even hit the track. And at the inaugural Midwest Hot Rod Reunion, SAN drove that point home.


Fall Carlisle Collector Car Swap Meet, Corral and Toy Show

Celebrating its 25th year, Fall Carlisle, as it's known, remains one of the largest and best car swap meets in America. This year's Fall Carlisle (October 1-4) boasted more than 8,100 vendor and collector car corral spaces and 3,100 vendors, all spread over 82 acres. Many of the vendors were SEMA-member companies looking to sell those all-important restoration or replacement parts for project vintage or custom vehicles.

The many Carlisle swap meets presented throughout the year offer the perfect opportunity for SAN to spread the word directly to hobbyists both face-to-face and through the efforts of some of our member companies. Outreach and Public Affairs Director Brian Caudill walked the fairgrounds for 3 days pitching SAN to hobbyists and passing out copies of SAN's "Fighting Inoperable Vehicle Laws" brochure. In addition, he enlisted the help of SEMA-member companies, the Antique Automobile Club of America and the Hemmings Motor News booth in distributing SAN information. Chances are, if you bought a switch, a knob or perhaps some restoration sheet metal from a vendor, you received a copy of the SAN brochure or information about joining SAN. Caudill passed out nearly 8,000 inoperable vehicle brochures and nearly 300 copies of SAN information. The results have been promising: In less than a week, several new membership forms were received.

Fall Carlisle provided SAN with a unique opportunity to connect both SEMA-member companies and hobbyists for mutual benefit. Kathy Bybee-Hartzell of the American Automotive Heritage Foundation, a SEMA and SAN member dedicated to promoting the automobile through educational opportunities, commented that it's helpful to have a combined SEMA/SAN presence at Carlisle because it both "drives home the message to SEMA members that there is an effort to protect their businesses and also enables hobbyists to know that there is an organization out there that is fighting for their rights."


Virginia Enthusiasts Organize to Fight for Emissions Exemption

A group of Virginia enthusiasts has organized to canvas the state legislature in 1999 in support of legislation to exempt vehicles 25 years old and older from emissions testing. Known as the Virginia Automobile Preservation Society (VAPS), the group has already succeeded in securing the support of State Senator Janet Howell (D-32) and is working with SEMA to encourage additional sponsorship in both houses of the legislature.

"We are a group of automobile enthusiasts dedicated to keeping old cars on the road," said VAPS leader Dirk Wright. "We all want an exemption on cars at least 25 years old from emissions testing. What with the difficulties in getting parts and the previously exempt status of our cars, we feel it's only fair to maintain our exemption."

SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald, who has worked with legislative staff and VAPS organizers to draft bill language, believes that Virginia has an excellent opportunity to promote an older car exemption. "We are convinced that Virginia legislators will ultimately recognize the relatively minimal impact of older vehicles on the state's vehicle emissions and air quality. Such vehicles constitute a small portion of the vehicle fleet and are generally well maintained and infrequently operated. We believe that the emissions test requirement is excessive in light of the low number of vehicles and operating characteristics. With VAPS, we will bring our case to the state legislature."

The Virginia General Assembly is scheduled to begin deliberations in January 1999.


Congressional Caucus Supports Hobbyists on Capitol Hill

SEMA and SAN aren't strictly about fighting legislative and regulatory battles at the state and local level. We maintain a strong federal focus as well. To that end, SEMA is an active supporter of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, a group of Senators and Congressmen who share our enthusiasm for the automobile hobby.

Co-Chaired by avid motorsports enthusiast Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and industry supporter Representative Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the Caucus formed around a strong desire to support the people who enjoy and participate in the automobile hobby and the industry that supports their efforts. This message is increasingly well received on Capitol Hill as, over the past two years, the caucus has swelled to more than 58 legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, from all parts of the country.

Each year SEMA works to promote the aftermarket industry, highlight legislative and regulatory issues and develop meaningful relationships with key legislators. Naturally, Caucus members are targeted first.

SEMA and SAN have learned from the Caucus lessons about the value of staying politically active. These lessons center on one major point: develop ties with your legislators. Meet with them in their local or Washington, D.C., offices. Volunteer on campaigns. Attend town meetings. No matter whether it's at the state, local or federal level, getting involved helps raise the profile of the automobile hobbyist, and the issues we're concerned about. As Caucus Co-Chair Campbell suggests, "We have the type of government that if your voice is not heard and you're not talking back to people, some darn fool will try and introduce some sort of legislation based on his frame of reference that will take away some of your rights as an American." Get involved and look to the caucus as exemplary leaders in support of the interests of automotive enthusiasts.