What a Cool Trip!
The SAN on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour
By Conrad Wong
Early this summer, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) was a sponsor of the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour, and I joined the procession for the first time. Four hardy SEMA staffers and I traveled over 1,400 miles in the SEMA recreational vehicle, which also served as a mobile hospitality lounge at each of our stops. The Power Tour cruised through Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The stats really tell the story:
Long Haul Vehicles (vehicles that did the entire trip): 1,270
Long Haul Participants: 2,251
Total Number of Registered Vehicles (includes vehicles registered for one or more nights but excludes Long Haul vehicles): 3,706
Spectator Attendance: 51,500
Working next to the SEMA RV each day, I got the opportunity to speak to fellow enthusiasts about the SAN and all of our legislative efforts in each of the 50 states. Naturally, people also wanted to know what was happening in the states through which the Power Tour cruised. Here’s what’s going on:
In Missouri, the state legislature combined SEMA-model legislation to create titling and registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles with a SEMA-supported bill to exempt all vehicles 26 years old and older from emissions inspections and passed both provisions. The combined measure, known as S.B. 1233, now awaits Governor Bob Holden's approval before becoming law. The SEMA-model legislation provides for special license plates and exempts rods and customs from periodic inspections and emissions tests. It also provides for the use of non-original materials and requires an initial safety inspection based on criteria established in part by the local hobbyist community. Under the legislation, replica vehicles are assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble. If signed into law, the 26 year rolling-emissions-test exemption will replace current law, which exempts only vehicles manufactured prior to the 1971 model year.
During our stops in Missouri, I asked residents of the “Show Me” state to call or write to Governor Holden and request that he sign the legislation into law. The SAN is especially grateful to Jim Pavelec of Old Dog Street Rods of St. Louis for his influential role in persuading Missouri legislators to approve the legislation.
In Illinois, SEMA defeated legislation that threatened to further restrict the ability of vehicle hobbyists to maintain inoperable vehicles on private property. The bill sought the removal of historic vehicles over 25 years of age from a list of vehicles exempt from county inoperable-vehicle ordinances if they were not kept within a building. Under current law, a county board may declare all inoperable vehicles a nuisance and order their disposal. This bill would have subjected ungaraged historic hobby cars to disposal and possible fines.
Each evening, I was privileged to speak to thousands of assembled car guys and gals who got together for prize giveaways. They appreciated the latest news on the legislative front and the efforts of the SAN to allow each of us to responsibly enjoy our rides, and I consistently received a warm and enthusiastic response from the crowd. In addition, Mother’s Waxes supplied the SAN with a goody bucket chock full of car care supplies and waxes to give away each night. We especially want to thank Forrest Tosie of Mother’s for his generosity to the hobbyists and the SAN. We also want to express our gratitude to Ira Gabriel, Doug Evans and the rest of the Primedia crew for making us feel welcome on the tour. Also, a big thank you to Doc Riley of Special Events Promotions and his colleagues for their hospitality to the hobbyists and for getting the SEMA RV in and out of the venues with ease.
I got to see firsthand the beauty of the Midwestern United States. Remember the old “Discover America” travel enticement from the 1960s? That’s exactly what I got to do. At every stop, the people were friendly and warm. It really made me feel special to be connected to you folks, not only as a car guy, but also as an American. Going to seven cities in seven days was grueling at times , but I’ll never forget the experience, or the wonderful friends that I made along the way. Thank you, fellow enthusiasts and SAN members. You really made my trip memorable.
Legislative Quick Hits
California 30-Year Rolling Emissions Exemption: The California Assembly passed the bill, A.B. 2683, to repeal the rolling 30-year emissions-test exemption and replace it with a provision requiring the permanent testing of all 1976 and newer model-year vehicles, despite the estimated administrative cost of $200,000. After holding a hearing on
this bill, the Senate Transportation Committee also approved this legislation. Meanwhile, the Senate approved contradictory legislation that would extend the state’s current rolling emissions-test exemption to older vehicles being brought into California from out of state. SEMA is now actively engaged in discussions with the other interested parties and Governor Schwarzenegger’s advisors on alternative approaches that will enable retention of the exemption in some manner or form.
Hawaii Street Rod/Replica Bill Signed into Law: Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle signed a version of SEMA-model legislation regarding street rods and replica vehicles into law. The new law expands the definition of “street rod vehicle” and “street rod replica vehicle” to include vehicles manufactured before 1968 or kit cars manufactured after 1967 to resemble vehicles manufactured before 1968. Previously, Hawaii allowed only vehicles manufactured prior to 1949 and replicas of these vehicles to be registered under these classes.
New Hampshire Exhaust-Noise Bill Becomes Law: An amended version of a SEMA-sponsored bill to remove vague and subjective provisions from the state’s exhaust-noise law was enacted without the governor’s signature. Under previous law, New Hampshire deemed illegal all modifications that increased noise levels above those emitted by the vehicle’s original muffler. The original SEMA-drafted legislation required law-enforcement authorities to prove that an exhaust-system modification resulted in a noise level in excess of 95 decibels as measured by SAE test standard J1169 before issuing a citation. Deeming the 95-decibel limit too restrictive, the legislature simply deleted provisions in the law that referenced the noise levels of the original muffler.
New York Senate Committee Approves SEMA-Model Street Rod/Custom Vehicle Bill: After years of inactivity, New York legislation that would create vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles is finally moving through the New York state legislature, with the Senate Transportation Committee approving the measure. The bill mirrors SEMA’s model legislation. It was enacted in Illinois in 2002. It currently is awaiting final approval in Missouri and Rhode Island. The bill now moves to the Senate Rules Committee before being scheduled for a vote by the full New York State Senate.
North Carolina Bill to Reduce Historic-Vehicle Registration Fees: SEMA is supporting North Carolina legislation, H.B. 2665, to reduce the annual registration fees for historic vehicles to $10, plus a one-time additional fee of $10 for a historic license plate. Currently, historic-vehicle owners must pay the regular annual registration fee of $20 plus the $10 historic-plate fee, thereby creating a disadvantage to register historic vehicles. Consequently, many qualified vehicles are not registered as historic, and owners do not take advantage of the opportunity to pay reduced taxes-an option available to historic vehicles. Under current North Carolina law, historic plates can be issued for a motor vehicle that is at least 35 years old. Vehicles registered under this class must be maintained primarily for use in exhibitions, club activities, parades and other public interest functions and only occasionally for other purposes.
Rhode Island Street Rod/Custom Vehicle Bill Passes Legislature; Goes to Governor: The Rhode Island Senate passed SEMA-model legislation to create titling and registration classifications for street rods, custom vehicles, kit cars, replicas, etc. The bill has already passed in the House. All that remains is for Governor Donald Carcieri to sign the measure into law. The SEMA model defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle manufactured after 1948. The legislation exempts street rods and customs from periodic vehicle inspections, emissions inspections and a range of standard-equipment requirements. The measure also provides that a replica vehicle will be assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles and allows the use of non-original materials.
Faulty Rhode Island Exhaust-System Bill Defeated: SEMA defeated Rhode Island legislation that deemed an exhaust system in violation of the state’s noise-limit restrictions to be a defective exhaust system. The measure also prescribed fines and replacement of the exhaust system. Given that statutory roadside exhaust-noise tests are rarely, if ever, employed, SEMA was concerned that this bill’s effect would have been to ban the sale of aftermarket exhaust systems of any kind.
Lessons in Lobbying
By Suzie Carroll
Every month in The Driving Force, we report the legislative successes that the SAN and SEMA have enjoyed in our efforts to promote the automotive hobby around the country. Recently, I attended a seminar on how to lobby state legislators, hoping to pick up a few new skills that would allow me to take a bigger role in the lobbying efforts here at SEMA. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the most important lessons of the course were common-sense ones. In fact, the SAN and SEMA already use many of the lobbying tips and hints shared in the classroom. I’ve picked out a few of the highlights from the seminar to remind each of you of the important role you play in our lobbying efforts.
The first highlight is so important that it’s well worth repeating: Constituents are an elected official’s number-one priority. Without you and your vote of support, they would not be in office. That is why SAN Action Alerts are so valuable. SEMA by itself can do only so much. One letter from Washington, D.C. is not nearly as powerful as hundreds of letters from politically active constituents who live in the district and would be affected by the proposed law. According to legislators, constituent letters and phone calls have the biggest influence on their actions while in office. Legislators, especially those at the state level, don’t have the time or the resources to become experts on each of the hundreds of bills they are expected to cast a vote on during the legislative session. Instead, they want to know their constituents’ interests, and they count on your correspondence to help guide their voting decisions. When you respond to a SAN Action Alert and contact your legislator to support or oppose pending legislation, you are exerting a huge impact on the legislative process and the future of our hobby.
The second lesson builds from the first. Since elected officials count on feedback from their constituents, it is important to build relationships with your legislators. By doing so, you will be able to educate them and their staffs about the car hobby, who we are and why we matter. If traveling to your state capital to meet with your elected officials seems unappealing to you, take advantage of the summer months to start constructing what hopefully will be long-lasting relationships with those in office. As we informed you in last month’s issue of The Driving Force, the best time to lobby your legislators is when you don’t need anything at all. The summer months provide ample opportunity to do just that. Invite your elected officials to your club events this summer while most legislatures are out of session and your elected representatives are back in their home districts.
This has been a very brief review, but I hope that I have expressed the critical role that enthusiasts play in our attempts to protect the automotive hobby from bad and misguided legislation. The SAN website has a great guide to help hobbyists with lobbying elected officials. The guide can be found online at http://www.semasan.com/main/main.aspx?id=61682. Included in this guide are tips on how to properly prepare for and meet with your elected officials, tips on the best and worst ways to contact a legislator on issues of concern, and ideas about how individuals can become more politically aware. Please take a few minutes to download and print this guide and use these summer months to introduce yourself and the automotive hobby to your elected representatives. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their reaction.
Off-Road News and Developments
California-U.S. House Restricts Use of ISDRA Demo Fees: The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the Department of Interior’s appropriation bill to prohibit funds collected under the recreation-fee-demonstration program from being used to study endangered and threatened species at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA). The sponsors of the bill noted that fee-demonstration funds were to be reinvested in infrastructure and visitor improvements, not used for environmental studies.
Idaho-Brokering a Deal for a New Wilderness Area: U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) has released a plan to create a new wilderness preserve in the Boulder/White Clouds region of central Idaho just north of Sun Valley. Under his proposal, 250,000 to 300,000 acres would become wilderness and thereby off limits to motorized vehicles. While trails in this wilderness area would be closed, the loss would be mitigated with new or improved trails in nearby vicinity. The lawmaker has been working with the various constituencies that have an interest in the area and intends to introduce legislation in the U.S. Congress this fall.
Utah-Negotiating a Resolution to the Wilderness Debate: Utah Governor Olene Walker (R) announced plans to set up “wilderness working groups” to resolve the ongoing debate over how much federal land within Utah should be set aside as wilderness. The groups will work at the county level and comprise government representatives, ranchers, farmers, environmentalists and industry officials. Millions of acres of potential wilderness in Utah have been the subject of intense debate for more than a decade. In 1991, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protected nearly 2 million acres as Wilderness Study Areas (WSA), land that is eligible for wilderness designation. A 1999 inventory expanded that number to 2.6 million acres, and some environmental groups want up to 6 million acres set aside. Wilderness is by definition “roadless,” and WSAs are largely treated as such. Therefore, the designation eliminates recreational access for off-roaders and potentially limits the off-road equipment sales derived from such activities. Washington County, home to St. George and Zion National Parks, will be the first jurisdiction to take up the issue. No immediate solutions are anticipated, but participants will try to forge a consensus to take to the U.S. Congress, which has final say on wilderness designations.
Utah-Supreme Court Supports ORV Access: The Supreme Court struck down a lawsuit filed by environmentalists against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which alleged that the agency had not adequately restricted off-road vehicle (ORV) use in certain wilderness study areas (WSAs) in Utah. The Court unanimously ruled that a federal agency’s daily activity, such as managing federal land, generally is not subject to court challenge. The environmental groups had argued that inaction or mismanagement by government agencies should be subject to court review. The decision involved 2 million acres of WSAs in Utah, but also could apply to federal management of other lands across the country. The environmentalists’ defeat may make it more difficult for states, local jurisdictions and watchdog groups to challenge ongoing federal regulatory activities.
Utah-Salt Creek Canyon Road Closure is Official: The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has amended its regulations to officially prohibit motor vehicles in Utah’s Salt Creek Canyon above the Peekaboo campsite within Canyonlands National Park. The closure was the subject of a lawsuit along with a NPS environmental assessment determination that motorized vehicles could impair that portion of the park’s ecosystem.
Utah-County Claims Rights to Road in Canyonlands: Utah’s San Juan County filed a right-of-way claim for the eight-mile Salt Creek Trail that leads to Angel Arch in Canyonlands National Park. The Park Service closed the road to motorized traffic in 1998, a decision that became permanent policy in mid-June 2004. This is the latest instance in which a state or local jurisdiction has used the 1866 mining law known as RS 2477 to assert local rights to a road on federal property. It is also the first time a county has laid claim title to a road within a national park.
AUGUST 2004 SAN CLUB EVENTS
August 7-8, Prescott
30th Annual Car Exhibit and Parts Exchange, Watson Lake Park
Sponsor: Prescott Antique Auto Club
Information: 928/445-9570 or 928/772-2742
August 6-8, Cass
Sponsor: Sports in the Rough
Information: 800/556 2801
August 5-8, Truckee
Sponsor: California 4-Wheel Drive Club
August 15, Costa Mesa
Chevy Madness, Orange County Fairgrounds
Sponsor: L.A. Classic Chevy Club
August 20-22, Santa Rosa
2004 Western Division National Fall Meet
Sponsor: Redwood Empire Region
August 21, Atascadero Lake
15th Annual Mid-State Cruizers Car Show
August 8, Aurora
8th Annual Pacifica-Laredo Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show
August 14, Cortez
Run to the Ruins Car Show
Sponsor: The Over the Hill Gang
August 21, Palisade
6th Annual Car Show at Peach Bowl Park
Sponsor: Just 4 Fun Car Club of Western Colorado
August 27-29, Ouray
Ouray Jeep Jamboree
Sponsor: Jeep Jamboree USA
August 1, East Hampton
38th Annual Belltown Motorcar Meet, Haddam Neck Fairgrounds
Sponsor: Belltown Antique Car Club
Information: 860/267-8665 or 860/267-8394
August 8, Manchester
Cruisin ’ on Main Street
Sponsor: Manchester Motor Car Co. and the Over The Hill Gang
August 20, Berlin
10th Annual Going for More in 2004
Sponsor: Connecticut American Motors Owners
Information: 203/573-8100 or 203/736-0070
August 12-15, Boise
33rd Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, Firebird Raceway
August 7, Glenview
Buick/Pontiac Midsummer Car Show at Loren Buick and Pontiac
August 8, Bourbonnais
Mustang and Ford-Powered Car Show
Sponsor: Northern Mustang Corral
August 12-14, Collinsville
2004 Heartland Regional Meet
Sponsor: St. Louis Gateway Chapter, Buick Club of America
Information: 314/921-5051 or 314/291-6770
August 21-22, Olney
18th Annual Car Show and Cruise, Olney City Park
Sponsor: White Squirrel Cruisers Car Club, Inc.
Information: 618/393-7738 or 618/292-0708
August 13-15, Davenport
Wizzard ’s Flying Eyeball Reunion, Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds
August 5-8, Louisville
35th Annual NSRA Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
July 31, Billerica
5th Annual Cruz-In to Benefit Shawsheen Tech Scholarship Fund
Sponsor: Bearing Burners Car Club
Information: 781/365-1322 or email@example.com
August 5-8, Wendell
23rd Annual Chevy/GMC Truck Meet
Sponsor: Northeast Chevy/GMC Truck Club
Information: 413/422-2781, 508/853-6570, or 781/551-0520
August 27-28, Sturbridge
Northeast Chapter Falcon Club of America Regional Meet
Information: 401/823-1059 or 860/399-4976
August 27-29, Springfield
Eastern States Nationals
Sponsor: Right Coast Association
August 7, Utica
2nd Annual Cruisin with the Oldies
August 14-15, Bark River
Championship Off Road Racing
August 28, Walled Lake
15th Annual Shuman Chrysler Jeep and Walled Lake Rotary Antique Classic Auto Show
August 12-15, Cloquet
4th Annual Al ’s Hot Rod Shop Rod Run
Information: 218/879-1327, 218/878-0341, or 218/879-6631
August 15, St. Cloud
29th Annual St. Cloud Antique Auto Club Car Show and Swap Meet
Sponsor: St. Cloud Antique Auto Club
Information: 320/251-1742, 320/253-3589, or 320/252-4316
August 21-22, Hinckley
Hinckley Hot Rod Extravaganza
Sponsor: Hinckley Convention Bureau
Information: 800/996-4566 or 320/384-0126
August 25-28, Bloomington
2004 Oldsmobile Club of America Nationals
Sponsor: Minnesota Olds Club
August 19-22, Hannibal
Vintage Thunderbird Club International Convention
Sponsor: Land of Lincoln Thunderbird Club
Information: 217/245-5468 or 309/452-6481
August 2-8, Reno
Hot August Nights
Information: 916/933-0949 or 775/356-1956
August 7-8, Fallon
Sponsor: Valley Off Road Racing Association
August 13-14, Ely
11th Annual White Pine Rodders Car Show
August 6-7, Albuquerque
August 27-29, Taos
10th Annual Taos Autumn Run at Taos Plaza
August 28, Greece
4th Annual Summer Sendoff Auto Show, Greece Town Hall
Sponsor: Street Machines of Rochester
Information: 585/621-1792 or 585/723-9149
August 21, Cambridge
Cambridge Classic Truck Cruise In
Sponsor: Y-City Custom Car Association
August 22, Dublin
3rd Annual All German Car Show
Sponsor: Mercedes-Benz Club of America, Central Ohio Section
August 7-8, O ’Brien
McGrew Trail Ride
Sponsor: Pacific Mountain Cruisers
August 5-8, Pottsville
11th Annual Great Pottsville Cruise
Sponsor: Pottsville Lions Club
August 6-8, Macungie
41st Annual Das Awkscht Fescht, Macungie Memorial Park
Sponsor: Lambda Car Club of Central Pennsylvania
August 12, Dickson City
Sock Hop at the Circle Drive-In
Sponsor: Scranton Region, AACA
Information: 570/241-3150 or 570/558-6397
August 14, Pocono Manor
All-British Car Day in the Poconos
Sponsor: Keystone Region MG Club
August 27-29, Macungie
26th Annual Wheels of Time Rod and Custom Jamboree, Macungie Memorial Park
Sponsor: Wheels of Time Street Rod Association
August 6-7, Pigeon Forge
Southern Nationals Battle of the Truck Nationals
August 6-8, Bristol
Thunder Valley Fun Ford Weekend
Sponsor: American Autosports
August 7, Austin
Mustang and Ford Roundup
Sponsor: Mustang Owners Club of Austin
August 14-15, Fort Worth
15th Annual Yellow Rose Classic
Sponsor: North Texas Mustang Club
August 21, Lubbock
22nd Annual Roundup & Car Show
August 7, Santaquin
Santaquin Days Car Show
August 7, Morgan
Morgan County Fair Car Show 2004, Morgan County Fairgrounds
August 21, West Jordan
10th Annual "Krusin For Kids" Car Show at Gardner Village
August 21, West Valley City
14th Annual Great Salt Lake Truck & Car Show
Sponsor: National Kidney Foundation
August 12-14, Bellevue
Northwest National All-Chevy Show
Sponsor: Pacific Northwest Camaro Club
August 13-15, Everett
Pacific Can-Am Zone Meet
Sponsor: Greater Seattle Studebaker Drivers Club
Information: 425/868-0895 or 206/938-1267
August 14, Battle Ground
6th Annual A.P.P.L.E Cruise-In
Sponsor: Ted-Dee Septic
August 27-29, Deming
Elites Summer Fun Run, Deming Log Show Grounds
August 15, Waukesha
Car Show and Picnic at Frame Park
Sponsor: Waukesha Old Car Club
August 20-22, Waukesha
15th Great Lakes Nationals, Waukesha County Expo Center
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
August 6-7, Evanston
9th Annual Evanston Car Cruise at Hamblin Park
August 21-22, New Hamburg, Ontario
25th Annual Moparfest
Sponsor: Old Chrysler Corporation Auto Club
Newly Introduced Legislation
Note: The following state bills are not laws. They were recently introduced and are currently under consideration by the respective state legislatures:
New Jersey SB 1658: Establishes a four-year registration period for new passenger automobiles. Requires annual registration for a vehicle once the initial four-year registration has expired and establishes registration fees.
Pennsylvania HB 2665: Prohibits the operation of a vehicle with any sun-screening device or other material that does not allow at least 70% light transmittance through front windshield, side wing, side window or rear window of the vehicle.