Expanded Street Rod Definition Benefits Hobbyists in Washington State
The Washington state vehicle hobbyist community and SEMA are celebrating a new law redefining a "street rod" to include a broader range of vehicles. This bill was signed into law on April 21 by Washington Governor Gary Locke and will go into effect after 90 days.
Remember the law passed last year in Washington exempting older vehicles from the state's emissions inspection? Some legislators are now trying to delay this enthusiast-friendly law. The Washington State Senate has passed legislation (H.B. 5886) to delay the start-up date for the exemption from January 1, 2000, to January 1, 2002. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The new law allows vehicles manufactured after 1949 resembling those manufactured before 1949 to be titled as street rods. The new definition also encompasses street rods constructed of non-original material or those altered dimensionally or in shape and appearance from the original manufactured body. In addition, the law exempts street rods that are owned and operated primarily as collector cars from the fender requirement when the vehicle is used during fair weather on suitable roads.
Scott Cedergreen, president of the Washington Car Club Council, commented, "Today is a [great] day for Washington state street rodders. This bill allows reproduction-bodied street rods to finally be titled as street rods, as is allowed in many other states. The National Street Rod Association does not acknowledge any difference in reproduction or original bodies, and now Washington state doesn't either! I would like to thank the many thousands of WCCC members who helped push this idea into law. A special thanks to Representative Jack Cairnes (R-District 47) who believed Washington state law needed an adjustment and introduced this bill on WCCC's behalf."
Good News for California Hobbyists...
Recently, the California Senate Transportation Committee passed a SEMA-authored "Repair and Upgrade" bill by an 11-0 vote. Sponsored by Senator Maurice Johannessen (R-District 4), S.B. 1056 would give aftermarket emissions reduction upgrade equipment the chance to compete as an alternative to the state's vehicle scrappage programs. This bill results from the simple fact that scrappage programs are damaging to vehicle hobbies and produce few actual pollution benefits.
S.B. 1056 would require the Air Resources Board to run a pilot program offering owners of older vehicles an incentive to voluntarily install an emissions upgrade system. SEMA Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Chris Kersting, who testified at the committee hearing, noted that "the resulting emissions improvements would be turned into emissions reductions which the state could keep or trade on the market. A similar repair and upgrade program operated by San Diego county has generated twice the emissions reductions per dollar as California's vehicle scrappage programs."
Also of good news to California hobbyists, another Johannessen-sponsored bill (S.B. 1058), easing the burden of emissions testing for owners of aftermarket-equipped vehicles by limiting visual and functional testing requirements, was also passed by the Transportation Committee. This "tailpipe-only test" bill would assure that if a car passes the tailpipe test, in most cases, it will be free to go. Currently, if aftermarket emissions equipment is found during a visual and functional inspection, cars are often referred to a referee station for additional testing. Both S.B. 1056 and S.B. 1058 are heard next by the California Senate Appropriations Committee.
...and Some Bad News
Tempering the legislative wins for repair-upgrade and tailpipe-only testing were defeats of pro-hobbyist bills S.B. 285 and S.B. 296, both sponsored by Senator Richard Mountjoy (R-District 29) in the Senate Transportation Committee. S.B. 285 sought to exempt older vehicles (those manufactured prior to 1974, and beginning January 1, 2003, any vehicle 30 or more years old) from random roadside emissions testing. S.B. 296 would have exempted vehicles driven 5,000 miles or less from the SMOG check, recognizing that collector vehicles are infrequently operated and have a negligible effect on California's pollution problem.
These bills were given a second chance after failing during a prior Transportation Committee hearing and, despite a strong lobbying effort by the Association of California Car Clubs (ACCC) and SEMA, failed to garner enough votes the second time around. ACCC official Jerry Effle has indicated that efforts supporting the principles behind these two bills will continue until each becomes law.
'New' Minimum Franchise Tax Threatens Popular Hobbyist Events in Pennsylvania
Hobbyists who enjoy the Carlisle and Hershey, Pennsylvania, swap meet and car corral events may see fewer vendors there in the future if Pennsylvania tax authorities continue to use unfair tactics with out-of-state vendors.
Pennsylvania state law was amended 2 years ago to grant an exemption from certain corporate fees to out-of-state vendors who operate in Pennsylvania for short periods of time. It was the understanding of all involved that the law was intended to eliminate this tax liability, so long as vendors stayed within the limitations. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (DOR) now claims that the law provides only partial relief from the fee rather than a complete exemption.
SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Kersting noted that the current interpretation of this law threatens popular hobbyist events. "From our perspective, it is clear that the bill's language intended an exemption from the minimum franchise tax for qualifying vendors. The DOR is suggesting that while the $300 minimum no longer applies, a ‘new' minimum, not specified anywhere in the law, now applies. SEMA stands ready to act collectively with our industry, the Pennsylvania businesses responsible for holding these events, and the thousands of vehicle enthusiasts who would regret seeing such events diminished or relocated."
SEMA staff spent time at this year's Spring Carlisle event interviewing vendors to determine the effect of the "new" franchise tax on the operation of their businesses in the state. We will continue to work with Pennsylvania legislators and others to resolve this issue and the SEMA Action Network will be updated on our progress.
Virginia Hobbyists Gain More Freedom to Drive
By Tom Cox, President, Southwest Virginia Car Club Council
Signaling victory for Virginia automotive hobbyists, legislation (S.B. 1193) amending Virginia's antique vehicle registration statute to allow occasional pleasure use within 250 miles of the owner's residence was signed into law and will be effective July 31, 1999. The bill was shepherded through the legislative process by Senator "Bo" Trumbo (R-District 22) and House Majority Leader Richard Cranwell (R-District 14).
S.B. 1193 results from 2 years of discussion between different segments of the automotive hobby, state representatives and state agencies. Hobbyists felt that Virginia's statutes restricting registered antiques to driving in parades and club events were hurting the automotive hobby. First, cars need to be "exercised" in order to maintain operating efficiency. Second, there needed to be some increased allowance for pleasure use. Finally, there was a need to segregate hobbyist vehicles from the rest of the vehicle population, in the event of more stringent anti-pollution restrictions. Teamwork made this idea a new law.
Over the past several years, the Southwest Virginia Car Club Council, Central Virginia Car Club Council, Tidewater Area Car Club Council and Virginia Old Dominion (a statewide group of Antique Automobile Club of America chapters), have worked together to achieve many political victories, including the passage of H.B. 2177, which eliminated the personal property tax on vehicles registered as antique. As a result, there has been an increased sense of automotive "community" between hobbyists of somewhat different interests. Street rodders, antiquers and others who have not traditionally seen eye to eye have fostered friendship and understanding as a result of their work on these issues. What has happened here in Virginia is exemplary of what needs to take place throughout the hobby. We have to work as one organized "hobby community," not as separate groups. To put it another way...we must all drive together, or we will all be forced to park separately.
Car Enthusiasts Cruise Missouri State Capitol
Members of the American Roadhouse Car Club of St. Charles, Missouri, and fellow car clubs met on the steps of the Missouri state capitol April 21. They were there to voice concerns regarding the new I/M 240 emissions testing program (slated to go into effect in January 2000) and a controversial inoperable vehicle bill, Missouri S.B. 84.
Missouri State Representative Todd Akin (R-District 86), who helped address their concerns, greeted hobbyists. Akin touched on many issues affecting vehicle enthusiasts, specifically, on the I/M 240 program. Akin stated that vehicles manufactured prior to 1971 would be exempt from the new emissions testing standards. During his 45-minute speech, he also stated that S.B. 84 has been thankfully "shelved" until the next legislative session. Akin firmly stated his opposition to S.B. 84 and to any other bill that removes or limits the rights of citizen-hobbyists.
S.B. 84 would allow municipalities to pass ordinances allowing law enforcement officials showing "probable cause" to tow a vehicle deemed a "public safety hazard" from private property without prior notice to the owner. The bill fails to define what "probable cause" is and who would make that determination. This bill does not apply to vehicles that are completely enclosed within a locked building or fenced area and not visible to the public. Passing S.B. 84 would make it difficult for hobbyists to work on vehicles on private property and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the vehicle hobby.
The American Roadhouse Car Club continues to fight S.B. 84 and is diligently soliciting signatures and handwritten letters in opposition for delivery to the state capitol. The club is also in the process of planning its fourth-annual Awareness Cruise to the state capitol slated for April of 2000. Correspondence opposing S.B. 84 can be sent to the club at P.O. Box 1680, St. Charles, Mo. 63302-1680. The club also encourages all concerned parties to contact their legislators by phone, fax or mail to voice their opposition to this bill and any other that tramples on the rights of vehicle enthusiasts.
Our legislators are answerable to each and every one of us. We have a responsibility to stand up and voice our opinions should we disagree with proposed laws and legislators have a duty to listen to us. Any and all individuals, groups and clubs are strongly encouraged and welcome to join the fight. Together we stand...divided we fall.
Working Together: Lowriders: One Big Happy Family
By Erin Mulholland
Often it seems lowriders get a pretty bad rap. Usually, when the term lowrider is used, the image of a bandanna-wearing gang banger with his car belly-scraping the pavement comes to mind. Nothing could be further from the truth—the lowriders interviewed for this article were all extremely open minded about helping other car enthusiasts and working together as one big happy family.
Don Hunt, 26, Anaheim, California, is readying a big car show with the Bonzai Cruisers Club of Southern California. "What really interests me about ‘Driving Force' are the articles on regulations and laws in other states. Keeping up on issues that other car clubs are going through, whether they affect us or not, is important. Working together is something that everybody, not just owners of mini-trucks, lowriders or street rods, needs to do."
Keeping a positive image for the club is paramount to Hunt. Bonzai Cruisers, with members ranging in age up to 50, are members of the Southern California Mini-Truck Council. The council, consisting of more than 100 clubs, promotes the hobby and looks out for its members, providing support and raising funds where needed. "If there is something going on legislatively, it's going to affect everybody. Everybody needs to be supportive of one another."
Steve Padilla, 22, San Dimas, California, reports his club, Explicit Attitudes Car & Truck Club, is also a member of the council. "If our club has any kind of problem, we call on other clubs in the council, and we know they will be there for us. Clubs that are not a part of the council must also work together. That is why I enjoy ‘Driving Force.' You can see what other groups are doing, and you can help them out."
At only 6 months old, the Desert Images Custom Car & Truck Club of Chandler, Arizona, has less than 10 members. But this certainly has not hampered the level of enthusiasm for member Erik Zahnow, 20. "Whether you are into lowriders, rails, hot rods or mini-trucks—even custom bikes—it is all just one big part of hot rodding. We are all in this together." Zahnow mentioned the vast array of vehicles in his club. "We are not just mini-trucks and Euros. We are everything. Even custom bikes and 4x4s."
Aaron Story, 24, founder and president of Untouchable Minis Lowrider Car/Truck Association, North Webster, Indiana, believes lowrider clubs are only recently commanding respect. "Lowriders are simply a different kind of car, tricked out in an unusual way. And we want to work with other car enthusiasts, no matter their type of vehicle, to promote hobbyists in general."
Members of Untouchable Minis are reaching out to recruit young kids as members of new lowrider bicycle clubs. "Keeping kids interested in something positive, and out of gangs, is really important." Story continued, "Positive growth for the future really starts with children."
Midnight Sun Street Rod Association
By Erin Mulholland
Usually when you think of Alaska, a scene of cold, dark snowy days comes to mind. So do bears, moose and glaciers. However, America's last frontier also provides its residents with around the clock summer sunshine, which is why it is also called Land of the Midnight Sun. Aptly, Alaska is home to the Midnight Sun Street Rod Association (MSSRA).
For more than 25 years, The Midnight Sun Street Rod Association has participated in parades, celebrations and fundraising events when even the heartiest soul would rather stay in a warm bed. In the deep freeze called February, the "Fur Rendezvous" is celebrated in Anchorage, and what would a celebration be without a parade? That's right! In weather as cold as 30 below, every year down Fourth Avenue there is a huge parade, and the MSSRA wouldn't miss it for the world! The MSSRA also participates in events held outside of winter's deep freeze. For the fourth of July, the Bear Paw Festival in Eagle River is a big bash not to be missed and the state fair parade every August in Palmer, Alaska, is also well-stocked with MSSRA members and rods.
Every Thursday night, April through September, the MSSRA sponsors its famous Thursday Night Cruise. Members bring out their cars, meet for dinner and cruise in various locations around the Anchorage, Eagle River and Matanuska Valley areas. Participants have a great time showing off their favorite vehicles and Alaskans love to gawk at them.
Car shows are a big hit with Alaskans, and although one might not believe there are nice cars that far North, proud owners dust them off and drive them out of their heated garages each spring. The largest show, the annual Jay Ofstun Memorial Show & Shine held each August, boasts more than 200 vehicles and also hosts an MSSRA silent auction for the benefit of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
MSSRA fundraising on behalf of the MDA is, in fact, a year round endeavor. Activities include soliciting donations and merchandise from local sponsors and organizing raffles to benefit the annual Alaskan MDA summer camps. MSSRA members also escort MDA campers to events like the drag racing at Alaska Raceway Park, or ovals at the NASCAR sanctioned Northstar Speedway. One year, the MSSRA was able to donate more than $5,000 to MDA.
In addition to work for MDA, the MSSRA has donated time and elbow grease to hand wax the train in the Transportation Museum in Wasilla, Alaska. The train is best known for its appearance in the movie Runaway Train, with co-stars John Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca DeMorney. The movie was shot on location near Girdwood, about 45 minutes south of Anchorage.
Letters to the Editor
"Driving Force" Article on NSRA Safety Inspections for Street Rods
While the NSRA [National Street Rod Association] program is laudable on the surface, I am curious why the requirement for seat belts is overlooked. This is a critical safety feature in automobiles. It has been proven over and over to save lives. It is a federal requirement on new vehicles and has been for many years. Yet the NSRA Safety Inspection does not even address seat belts.
Not only is this a serious oversight, but in many of those street rods which do have safety belts, they have not been properly installed. I have written to NSRA about this glaring discrepancy on two occasions and have never even received the courtesy of a reply.
Jim Davis, Pro/Race Performance Products
An interesting point. Any NSRA inspectors have a response to this?-Ed.
Newly Introduced Legislation
Note: The following state bills are not laws. They have been recently introduced and are currently being considered for adoption by the respective state legislatures.
ALABAMA S.B. 448: prohibits the parking, leaving or storing upon any place or premises within the unincorporated areas of Lee County more than two motor vehicles which are not operable and validly registered and tagged.
MISSOURI S.B. 19: would allow localities to prohibit the storage on private property of vehicles deemed a "public safety hazard"; allows law enforcement officials, upon showing "probable cause," to remove the vehicle without notice to the owner. The bill does not apply to vehicles that are completely enclosed within a locked building or locked fenced area and not visible to the public.
ALABAMA S.B. 464: authorizes the Department of Environmental Management to establish a vehicle inspection and maintenance program for counties in non-attainment; exempts vehicles of model years 1974 or earlier.
LOUISIANA H.B. 1524: authorizes the Department of Environmental Quality to establish and implement a motor vehicle emissions testing program for areas classified as "serious" or worse by the U.S. EPA; repeals present emissions testing law, including vehicle scrappage programs.
LOUISIANA H.B. 1428: provides that all motor vehicles operated on state highways be equipped with fenders, covers or devices, including flaps or splash aprons.
LOUISIANA S.B. 350: prohibits headlamps that are "off road" colored lights; authorizes use of white DOT-compliant HID forward lighting.
NEW YORK S.B. 7666: prohibits the installation of a vehicle lamp or light unless approved by the commissioner; authorizes commissioner to regulate maximum candlepower, location and placement, aim of light beam and the times, places and conditions under which lamps or lights may be used.
PLATES & REGISTRATION
HAWAII S.B. 664: provides for allowance of applications for inactive special number plates for antique vehicles.
MISSOURI H.B. 60: provides for the use of historic license plates for vehicles more than 25 years old.
RHODE ISLAND H.B. 6431: authorizes year of manufacture registration plates.
June SAN Club Events
June 6, Fremont, California
Sponsor: Mopar Alley
June 5-7, Douglas Co. Fairgrounds, Colorado
Old Car Council of Colorado Swap Meet
Sponsor: Old Car Council of Colorado
June 12, Littleton, Colorado
Blast From the Past
Sponsor: Rocky Mountain Thunderbirds
June 25-27, Pueblo, Colorado
15th-Annual NSRA Rocky Mountain Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
June 25-27, Harrington, Delaware
10th-Anniversary Rod and Custom Jamboree
Sponsor: Southern Delaware Street Rod Association
June 26, Palatka, Florida
5th-Annual Father's Day Cruise-In
Sponsor: Azalea City Cruisers
June 11-13, Kuna, Idaho
"The Gearhead's Beach Weekend"
Sponsor: The Big Guys
June 4-6, Madison, Illinois
Gateway Gasser Gathering
Sponsor: Mid-America Willys Club
June 13, Naperville, Illinois
2nd-Annual Village Pontiac "All GM" Car Show
Sponsor: Pontiac-Oakland Club, Illinois Chapter
June 11-13, Indianapolis, Indiana
GoodGuys Hot Rod Nationals
Sponsor: GoodGuys Rod and Custom Association
June 22, Council Bluffs, Iowa
25th-Anniversary Cruise to Bluffs Run Casino and Dog Track
Sponsor: Classic Chevy International
Information: Paul High, 802/895-0629
June 6, Cambridge, Maryland
Cruise in and Trophy Show
Sponsor: Cambridge Classic Cruisers
June 19, Charles County, Maryland
Car Show and Swap Meet
Sponsor: Southern Maryland Antique Auto Club
June 20, Stevensville, Maryland
Father's Day Show
Sponsor: Kent Island Cruisers
June 26, Williamsport, Maryland
Antique Car Show
Sponsor: AACA, Mason-Dixon Region
June 11-13, Park Rapids, Minnesota
Run to the Rapids
Sponsor: Northern Knights Car Club
June 18-20, St. Paul, Minnesota
26th Annual Back to the '50s Weekend
Sponsor: Minnesota Street Rod Association
June 12, Sparks, Nevada
4th-Annual Shadow Mountain D.A.R.E. Car Show
Sponsor: John Marvin of Meadow Valley Cruisers
June 12, McConnelsville, Ohio
14th-Annual M&M Jaycees Cruise-In
Sponsor: Y-City Customs
June 13, Cincinnati, Ohio
Airport Car Show
Sponsor: Ohio Valley GTO Association
June 4-6, York, Pennsylvania
NSRA Street Rod Nationals East
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
June 6, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania
All Chevy Show
Sponsor: Late Great Chevy Club, East Penn Chapter
June 13, Blue Comet Grove, Skippack, Pennsylvania
Blue Comet Picnic Grove Annual Rod Run and Car Show
Sponsor: Cedar Hollow Timing Association
June 20, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
10th-Annual Palmerton Car Show
Sponsor: Pace-Makers Association
June 17, San Antonio, Texas
Rooty's Swap Meet and Car Show
Sponsor: Alamo AMC of San Antonio
June 19, Roanoke, Virginia
AACA National meet
Sponsor: Antique Automobile Club of America
June 12, Wauwautosa, Wisconsin
16th-Annual Renner Oldsmobile Show
Sponsor: Oldsmobile Club of Wisconsin