November 1999

Club 'My Classic Car' Honors SEMA Action Network

Club "My Classic Car" (Club MCC), the nationwide car club associated with the popular television program "My Classic Car" (hosted by Dennis Gage) on the Nashville Network, honored the efforts of the SEMA Action Network at the annual "My Classic Car" Autofest Nationals in Evansville, Indiana. This is the second time this year the SAN has received an award of merit.

Club MCC offers fans of the television program the opportunity to join the club (registering as "certified car nuts") and is designed to work toward improving and protecting the car hobby. Part and parcel of the club's mission is to work in conjunction with and financially support hobbyist organizations, like the SAN, to make sure that federal and state authorities keep their hands off enthusiasts' vehicles. Out of this mission came Club MCC's decision to honor the SAN for its efforts in safeguarding the hobby and preserving it for generations to come. SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill accepted the award on behalf of SEMA and the SAN. Caudill noted, "We are truly pleased that the SEMA Action Network has again been recognized as stalwart in its efforts to protect the automobile hobby. However, SEMA would like everyone to note that the true deserving winners of this award are the SAN member clubs and enthusiasts who fight the regulation and the legislation on their own behalf, as well as on behalf of the hobby and the supporting aftermarket industry. People like SAN contact Richard Bruhn, of Wisconsin's Super 60s Ford Club who will go to the mat to make sure that his 1967 one-of-a-kind cardinal-red Comet remains protected rather than threatened by law, are the true heroes."

SEMA is proud to present Club MCC's generous $2,000 award in the name of SAN clubs and enthusiasts to the SEMA Memorial Scholarship fund. This fund supports the education of students pursuing their dream of working in the aftermarket automotive industry.

CAFE Freeze Extended

Effective lobbying by enthusiasts, the automakers and the automotive aftermarket industry blunted an amendment to the U.S. Department of Transportation Appropriations bill by Senators Slade Gorton (R-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Bryan (D-NV) to raise corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for the light-truck/SUV market. Appropriations bills earmark funding for federal government operations. The CAFE amendment would have lifted a moratorium established by Congress in 1995 preventing federal regulators from raising the current CAFE standard for light trucks beyond 20.7 miles per gallon. Had the amendment passed and the bill been signed into law, automobile manufacturers would have been forced to alter the design, restrict the sale of popular features for, or limit production of light trucks and SUVs in order to meet more stringent fuel mileage requirements.

The amendment failed 55-40 signaling a setback to some environmental groups which argued that increased fuel economy drives down global warming related emissions, and reduces U.S. reliance on foreign oil. In contrast, the 55 Senators opposing the amendment argued that changing CAFE requirements would jeopardize jobs in the automotive industry and threaten vehicle choice options for consumers.

On October 9, President Clinton signed the DOT spending bill despite the strenuous objection of the environmentalist community. Nonetheless, the issue is far from resolved. Several high-profile Senators, including presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), continue to believe that CAFE standards need to be reevaluated. As chair of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. McCain is expected to hold hearings next year on the CAFE dilemma: conserving energy in an era of booming truck and SUV sales.

Scrapes Over Scrappage: Shelby Club of Northern Illinois

By Erin Mulholland

Settled in a typical American suburb 45 miles from the Chicago city center, the Shelby Club of Northern Illinois will celebrate 30 years as a club next year. Club President Tom Dillon anticipates celebrating the club's longevity come 2000; however, celebration plans are on hold to address an even more looming event: an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) draft initiative designated to scrap older vehicles.

Dillon, along with 45 other club members, was shocked to learn of the proposed draft initiative from the SAN. "Since the time SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill gave me the heads up this past June...we've been busy passing the word to car enthusiasts here in Illinois. The EPA's goal is to remove gross polluters from the road, but that puts about every kind of vintage car, including muscle cars and every other classic or antique car, in jeopardy," said Dillon. After the alert, the club forwarded news of the IEPA draft in mailings to local enthusiasts and car show veterans promoting their annual fall car show. The club also made information available at the show itself. Additionally, Dillon called the scrappage initiative to the attention of local state lawmakers-which turned out to be the first contact that local and state officials had with the new IEPA efforts to eliminate old cars from Illinois streets.

Apparently, the IEPA is offering cash for old vehicles to be voluntarily turned in for destruction. The concern Dillon has is that with a scrappage program in place, sources for hard to find parts will dry up, making restoration of vintage vehicles next to impossible. "This would pretty much eliminate vehicle restorations impacting project cars for generations of car enthusiasts to come." Not surprisingly, the IEPA has not returned any of Dillon's calls. In addition to its antiscrappage endeavors, the Shelby Club holds two free-admission car shows each year. From time to time, they hold 50/50 raffles to benefit local charities at the shows, which are held at Breedmann Ford in Glenview every fall, and at Friendly Ford in Roselle every spring. These intimate gatherings are open to all Ford vehicles, as is the club itself.

Although the namesake of the club is the classic Shelby, the open door policy is extended to any Ford vehicle owner, regardless of model, year or condition. "Most of our members own mid 1970 to mid 1980 vehicles, although that is not the rule. There is a real mix," said Dillon, whose ongoing project vehicle is a 1969 Torino.

Minitrux.com Offers More Style Per Mile

By Melissa Balk

After attending the Mini Truckin' Nationals in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, brothers Allen and Chris Buchanan decided to start an online magazine devoted to mini trucks. They wanted to create a place where mini truck enthusiasts could go "to share ideas, advice and to check out the current trends." Allen, a commercial graphic artist by trade, and Chris, who handles the business side of the magazine, liked the idea of a web site because it is "more directly in contact with viewers than magazines are with subscribers." The result, www.minitrux.com, offers a wide array of information on mini trucks in an entertaining, interactive format. It lives up to its slogan, "More Style Per Mile." Each month the magazine features different top-quality mini trucks on the "cover." Other pages on the site include an ongoing Q/A Forum where readers share their ideas, and Wordup, an editorial page. The Zone offers a look at the readers' mini trucks "under construction," and an Audio page teaches readers about the latest sound-quality maximization techniques. In an effort to keep viewers abreast of what's going on, Chris and Allen also offer free listings on the Event Calendar and Classifieds pages, and every month they even dedicate a page to "Driving Force."

A tribute to their skills and hard work, the magazine is popular with mini truck enthusiasts around the world. Readers from all over the United States and Canada, and some from as far away as Europe and Australia, regularly visit the site. Chris and Allen describe their typical viewers as 20-somethings who "love to customize their vehicles, like their rides to scrape pavement, like their music loud and like safe and carefree fun with others who share the interest in this hobby." The brothers report that last September alone, more than 12,000 viewers visited the site's cover page, and nearly twice that many hit the Q/A Forum page. Additionally, "Xhibits [a section featuring the readers' mini trucks] seem to pour in. Everyone wants to see their ride on the Internet!" They receive 10 to 15 submissions per month for their Show the World Your Truck page, and more than 350 people have accessed the on-site chat room.

Keeping such a comprehensive web site updated takes a lot of time and energy, and Chris and Allen are fortunate to have an impressive list of volunteers from all around the United States to help them out. "This is the amazing and exciting part of what we do. Everyone wants to make minitrux.com the best of its kind."

When asked if there was anything else they would like to add, Chris and Allen said, "Thanks to everyone for their response, cooperation of clubs, show sponsors, "Driving Force" Editor Brian Caudill, and Lance Martz, editor of MiniTruckin' magazine."

New Jersey Proposal Could Benefit Hot Rodders

Encouraged by New Jersey enthusiasts and SEMA, the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles could finalize a proposal to create a new classification of vehicles. "Low Utilization Modified Performance Vehicles" of model years 1981 and later would be spared the rigors of the enhanced inspection program-including dynamometer testing-and would instead take a 2,500 rpm idle emission test. Modified performance vehicles could only be driven a total of 10,000 miles during a 2-year period. In addition, the performance modifications must comply with all of the state's antitampering requirements.

This past summer, Council of Vehicle Associations/ Classic Vehicle Advocate Group President, Butch DeZuzio commented on the problems performance modified vehicles have experienced in New Jersey: "Many [modified] cars can pass tailpipe emissions tests, but are failed solely because there is an emissions-legal modification or add-on device present. Some of these modifications actually improve emissions resulting in a cleaner running vehicle."

SEMA Director of State Government Relations Steve McDonald agreed. "Over the years, SEMA has engaged in a cooperative effort with the U.S. EPA, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and aftermarket parts manufacturers to ensure that emissions-related performance products are designed and manufactured to not adversely effect vehicle emissions. Accordingly, we appreciate the DMV's recognition of the legal use of these parts on modified performance' and other classes of vehicles and their willingness to protect these cars with a more appropriate emissions test."

New Jersey hobbyists, including the COVA/CVAG, have long and tirelessly championed creating this new modified performance designation and are cautiously optimistic about its potential effect.

Letters to the Editor

New Jersey Hobbyists Talk About MTBE, Auto Matters Some of you may be aware of the fact that there is a bill pending to ban the use of MTBE in our motor fuels. One of these bills is sponsored by United States Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Congressional District, N.J.

The Congressman is quite willing to meet with vehicle enthusiasts about his bill, and any other vehicle-related subjects. Are you folks interested? If you are, please contact me at 732/549-0188, or via fax at 732/549-2478. If enough of you respond, I'll set up the meeting at the Metuchen Borough Hall in Metuchen, New Jersey.

Ben Deutschman, COVA/CVAG
Central New Jersey

More on Illinois Scrappage

We've been following along in "Driving Force" the progress of the Illinois EPA's draft scrappage program for the past several months, and have also seen an article devoted to the scrappage proposal in the Chicago Tribune (September 16, 1999). Our question is when is it going to be proposed officially or has common sense and the efforts of the SAN paid off in killing the proposal before it saw the light of day? Jennifer Kronheim Batavia, Illinois

Good question! When we first reported that a scrappage program was being considered, the Illinois EPA stated that the proposed regulation would be released this past summer. Now, our reconnaissance says that it will be later this fall. This we do know: Many clubs have written their elected officials in opposition and many Illinois State Reps. have expressed strong reservations about scrappage to the Illinois EPA. Could this be one reason why the proposal has been "delayed" for so long?!—Ed.