Birth of the SEMA Action Network

A platinum anniversary is an occasion not to be taken lightly. Significant measures are required to craft a fresh concept from nothing and make it last for two decades. To remain relevant, a new program must be built with enough purpose, stamina and heart to hold ongoing relevance. Changes in technologies can render obsolete even the most well-intentioned projects. Thankfully for fans of cars and trucks, there is a dedicated legion that has steadily grown and positioned itself as a legislative force in advocating for fair automotive laws throughout the U.S. and Canada. For those who have followed its progress, it may come as a surprise that the accomplishments of the SEMA Action Network (SAN) now span twenty years.

Like many ideas, the SAN’s journey to become the auto hobby’s national legislative voice began as a solution to a specific problem. The topic of vehicle scrappage, commonly known as “Cash for Clunkers,” was posing an imminent threat in the mid-1990s.

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Tony “T-Bone” Colombini with his 1956 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan Businessman's Edition. Since purchasing it in 2004, he has logged thousands of miles behind the wheel. Under the hood, a 1968 Thunderbird big block 390 FE features a full range of performance goodies. “Right now, I’m completely re-wiring the car. The interior is also getting a fresh re-build, including several dress-up parts, a new shifter and stereo system,” Tony explains.

Tony “T-Bone” Colombini’s favorite experiences come when sharing a ride with his fellow Mercifuls Custom Car Club members, his friends, his son or his 15-year-old nephew. “My nephew is a really good kid and knows how to handle a wrench,” Tony says proudly. “Since inviting him to spend time in my garage, he went from wanting a current model import as his first car to a 1966 Ford Mustang. He is having a blast fixing it up with new steering and brakes. It will be a great driver when he gets his license.” Colombini especially likes wrenching with kids. He feels it is very important for seasoned gearheads to share their experiences with youngsters. “It is very important to be a positive influence for the youth and teach them skills they can take with them forever. Hopefully, it will enable them to build a passion similar to ours.”

T-Bone and his son Billy have several projects in the works. They are currently customizing their Dodge RAM 1500 Hemi trucks. Tony’s 2005 standard cab/short bed is getting a street machine look. Meanwhile, Billy's 2007 is going to have more of a dual-purpose street/off-road look. The pair are also building their first Harley-Davidson, a 1980 shovelhead. “We are bobbing up the bike a bit and plan to auction it for the American Diabetes Association.” Tony wishes to one day count a hover-board, flying car or even a bona-fide Tucker Torpedo among his collection. Another unique father/son project is their publication, Blacktop Magazine. “My son and I visit garages, shops, shows and events to share those experiences with our readers and fans.”

Colombini believes that anyone involved in the car hobby should be aware of legislation impacting its future. “Personally, I feel if you are not signed up for notices from the SEMA Action Network (SAN), you are not truly a car guy or gal. It's free and keeps us all informed. The SAN makes it super-easy to contact lawmakers on automotive issues of critical concern.” He has been celebrating the SAN-supported Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD) since day one. “CCAD is a great opportunity to share the passion we have in our hobby. I look forward to it every year. It's a great for businesses to build excitement and a great reason to throw a party, car show or automotive-inspired event.” In fact, the picture above was taken during CCAD 2016 at Blacktop Media's headquarters in California's Old Towne Orange. Friends stopped by with their classic and collector cars for photos in front of the garage all day long.

Keep the hammer down, T-Bone! Way to inspire those around you with four-wheeled fun.


Stay Up-to-Date on the RPM Act: Get the latest information on the motorsports bill at sema.org/epa-news.

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SEMA SAN Driving Force, Spring 2017