From The Editor
I've been on the job for about a year as SEMA Action Network (SAN) Director. For most of that year, my ride, my particular heap of motorhead heaven, my 1971 SS El Camino has been in and out (mostly in) of the shop. Just before Christmas I got it back—prebody work—for a few weeks to drive.
Soon the suggestions from the fellas at the diner started: "You should restore it back to stock," said one friend. "Nah, lower it, stick some pipes out the back. Maybe a blower!" said another. Then the arguments about who is a purist, who has more fun and who is the real and rightful heir to the title "car nut" escalated, until I walked out.
I have to admit, the arguments irked me a little. I like automobiles, all automobiles, from street rods and lowriders, to lifted 4x4s and Jeeps, to meticulously restored classics to late models and foreign jobs. Hell, I'd like to find room in my garage for one of each. But here is the issue: If you love, drive and care for a vehicle, you should respect and support your fellow enthusiasts. Even if what they drive isn't your cup of tea, they are not the enemy.
The only real enemy of the car nut is any government entity that would take away your right to responsibly enjoy your vehicle as you see fit. And the only way to fight them is to band together for the benefit of everyone. When we contact SEMA Action Network-member clubs during a legislative or regulatory battle, we don't pick and choose who is contacted and who isn't. We contact every club in that state! When our friends who own raised 4x4s face laws that would eliminate their rigs, we ask the street rodders and the antique folks to support their brothers and sisters in the fight. Ultimately, it is their battle, too. If the government thinks raised vehicles are unsafe, ask yourself how long it will take before some over-zealous official finds your chopped '40 Ford Panel Truck, your all-original '57 Nomad or your lowered late-model mini-truck unsafe?
Let's remember who our friends are and pledge to work together. With this in mind, over the next few months the "Driving Force" will include articles on how clubs with differing interests believe in and work to support the rights of all automotive enthusiasts. We'll call it "Working Together."
Oh, and as for my plans for my El Camino....I'm not tellin'. —Brian Caudill
Virginia Emissions Exemption Gains Support Among Legislators
Spurred by widespread support in the hobbyist community, Virginia legislators are poised to introduce legislation exempting vehicles 25 years old and older from emissions testing. A coalition of enthusiast groups, brought together by the SEMA Action Network late last year, has already secured the support of State Senator Janet Howell (D-32) and is working with SEMA to encourage additional sponsorship in both houses of the legislature. As the legislative session was slated to begin, lawmakers from both parties indicated considerable interest in moving the bill quickly through the legislative process.
Vehicle enthusiasts have long believed that the emissions test requirement for older vehicles is excessive in light of the vehicles' small numbers and typically well-tuned conditions. Further, original and certified emissions equipment and parts for these vehicles are difficult or impossible to obtain, making compliance with emissions test requirements a practical problem and economically infeasible. "We're aware that enhanced emission testing will soon make its way across the state," said Tom Cox, president of the Southwest Virginia Car Council. "As a council composed of antique vehicle collectors, street rodders and others, we are happy to support this effort." Cox indicated that the council is also pursuing a bill that would increase the drive miles allowable for vehicles classified as historic.
SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald commented, "The idea behind exempting any class of vehicles is to lessen the inconvenience to motorists and reduce I/M costs while not losing appreciable emissions reductions. This strategy not only builds support for emissions-inspection programs, but also directs the program to where it will be most valuable in cleaning the air."
Missouri Bill Targets Inoperable Vehicles
Legislation recently introduced in Missouri to clarify disposal procedures for abandoned property, may also threaten the automobile hobby by declaring certain vehicles to be public health hazards. The bill (S.B. 84) would allow any city, town or village to prohibit the storage of inoperable vehicles or other vehicles deemed a public health hazard. In addition, S.B. 84 would allow law enforcement officials, with probable cause, to remove the vehicle by "towing or otherwise," without notice to the owner.
While the bill would not apply to vehicles completely enclosed within a secure area and not visible from adjacent public or private property, it fails to distinguish between an owner using private property as a dumping ground and a vehicle enthusiast working to maintain, restore or construct a vehicle. Unfortunately, those engaged in restoring older vehicles may be unable to protect these vehicles from confiscation if this bill becomes law.
S.B. 84 comes as no surprise to SAN contact John Lamke, VP of the American Truck Historical Society, Gateway Chapter in Union, Missouri, who commented, "We've been fighting this thing for years now. We've written letters and circulated petitions to officials throughout the state in an effort to protect the automobile hobby."
Massachusetts Looks to Change Emissions Testing Methods
Under pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions, the state of Massachusetts is considering legislation which would exempt almost 40 percent of newer cars from emissions inspections. This proposed program could be in place as early as this summer.
Massachusetts officials have indicated that they would use emissions data provided by automobile manufacturers to determine which vehicle models and makes run cleaner. These cars, along with newer models, would be exempt from some emissions testing. Specifically, new cars would be exempt from treadmill tests for 2 years, and older cars could see other exemptions based upon emissions data and reliability records. The proposal also calls for the state to use remote sensor testing guns to test emissions on the highway. Sensor guns are aimed at tailpipes to measure emissions and will compare actual emissions with the emissions data the state has on file about particular vehicles. Drivers who choose to have a roadside remote-sensing test can avoid the enhanced I/M treadmill test.
At present, it is unclear how this proposed legislation would affect hobbyists who have chosen to equip their automobiles with aftermarket exhaust and performance equipment. It is also unclear exactly how remote sensor testing will affect the driving public; however, the state claims testing will be used as an information gathering tool rather than as a means to penalize individual drivers. SEMA will continue to monitor this proposed legislation to ensure that needs and concerns of Massachusetts's automobile hobbyists are addressed.
States Ask EPA to Tighten Emission Standards on Sport-Utility Vehicles
A delegation of officials representing a dozen states recently met with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Carol Browner to discuss tougher emission limits on sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans and light trucks. Officials from Washington, Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire urged the EPA to impose tighter emission requirements on SUVs in order to avoid additional restrictions that may have to be placed on stationary sources to meet current federal clean air requirements. The popularity of SUVs, light trucks and minivans has grown considerably in the last 10 years, prompting concern among some states that they will not be able to achieve clean air goals if such vehicles are allowed to continue to emit at a higher rate than passenger cars.
Currently, California and Colorado are the only states that have gone ahead with plans to require SUVs, minivans and light trucks to meet the same tailpipe emission requirements as passenger cars. Although manufacturers have said they cannot meet the tougher requirements, Michael Kenny, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, expressed a much different view, saying "we have no doubt they can do it." At the meeting with Browner, the delegates asked the EPA to establish a nationwide requirement that SUVs, minivans and light trucks meet the same emission requirements as cars.
SAN contacts expressed dismay at raising SUV emissions standards simply to save stationary source industrial polluters the trouble of cleaning up their act. Pete Cartier of the Durango Owners Club, commented that, "It strikes me as a little disingenuous to clean up SUVs so that stationary sources can get let off the hook." Joe Micciche of the Sport Utility Action Network echoed the sentiment: "Certainly, individual states can better enforce existing requirements on industries that pollute, rather than legislate away people's choice in vehicles. A halt to the sale of ‘pollution credits'...and the progressive application of fines and limits on stationary polluters are but two significant areas which, if enforced, could contribute to better air quality."
A Woman's View
By Erin Mulholland
In a hobby dominated by men, women are increasing their visibility. In SAN vehicle clubs across the nation, there are 85 women heading up myriad clubs and associations or assisting with the administration and promotion of them.
"Driving Force" spoke with several women who have made a mark for themselves, and asked them to reflect on women's advancement in the hobby, as well as the changes they have seen during their involvement.
Karen Reinhardt, member of the 4 Fun 4 Wheelers in Gregory, Michigan, has been active with her husband, Ken, locally as well as regionally in the East Coast 4 Wheel Drive Association and the Michigan Off Road Racing Association since 1987. The local club, with approximately 40 members, is made up primarily of race enthusiasts. Active in charitable collecting of food, blankets and clothes for the needy through her local club, Karen enjoys the friendships she and her husband have cultivated nationwide. "They are our extended family," she said.
Attending about 18 events a year conducted by both East Coast and the Michigan associations, Karen said the camaraderie of the members is what keeps her actively involved in obstacle events. "Before I was married to Ken, I was his biggest fan. Then I became intrigued to join in the fun, and now we compete together." When asked about people's reaction to her favorite pastime, the office manager by day said, "They say ‘You do what?,' and then give me a weird look."
As president of the newly formed Big Dog Four Wheelers Club in Goffstown, New Hampshire, 35-year-old Dawn Psaledas competes regularly in her own '71 Jeep CJ. What she described as "testosterone overload," the events which Dawn participates in, have few other women. In fact, with only three other women in her region who compete, she is part of a niche with a very few proud ladies. The exception would be an annual "Ladies Day," where wives and girlfriends take to the driver's seat to compete for fun. "Men aren't good passengers," she said, "they get nervous."
Dawn would love to see more women take to the driver's seat, but surmised that there are so few due to the fact that they do not have their own vehicles. "It's hard to jump into the driver's seat of someone else's vehicle. Especially a husband or boyfriend who is sitting in the passenger seat while you make an attempt on an obstacle. Nerve wracking is more like it."
When asked why she formed a local club, Dawn replied, "There weren't any local clubs for four wheelers in New Hampshire. We saw a need to have a local body organizing some events in our area, and to help bring more people into the regional associations. We wanted to provide an association under one roof." A born leader, Dawn just sort of "ended up" as president.
Growing up racing enduro dirt bikes as a child, Dawn was no stranger to competition against men. She enjoys getting under the hood as well as behind the wheel. And she even has a few tales to tell about rather interesting competitions. Dawn recounted an event where a woman competitor, Di Kasiaras, took on an obstacle and, to the amazement of several men who had already tried it, including her husband, she ‘just putted right up.' "It happened at our annual Trailfest, held each August. When it happened, her husband was great, extremely proud and supportive, but there were several men who didn't conquer the obstacle as easily as Di did. They were rather quiet. When a lady wins, about half of the guys are really supportive, while the other half just says it is all beginner's luck."
Having fun and being with great people is what keeps Dawn involved competitively. That, and the fact that, well, in her own words, "Men love to see women drive."
Letter to the Editor
I have an idea that may get the country to take notice of the hobby and that is to have a "March on Washington D.C.," or should I say a rally, in the car sense. Do you [SEMA] support the Great American Race? Is there anyway we could have the GAR end in Washington, D.C., at the foot of the Capitol? With news cameras rolling, the whole world could see the hobby is not jalopies or rustbuckets but well-preserved examples of American history. This idea would be great to [celebrate] the millennia as the auto industry is as old as the century itself. [If] coordinated with car clubs around the country we could make a statement not made for the last 60 years or so. Picture this: clubs with plaques on their cars stating where they came from at a "rally" in front of the Capitol. This would show that the hobby is all over this great land. [Finally,] if we could get people like Jay Leno or Tim Allen there, along with our supporters in government, it would drive, no pun intended, the point home like a sledgehammer blow.
—Mark Koenigsmann, Cadillac Series 75 Registry
[The California Air Resources Board's ruling on] California scrappage, which ignores a state law, needs more than simply complaining. Governments don't give a damn about car collectors. Not a bit. This destruction of parts also impacts the poor and kids with their first cars. What is necessary—very necessary—is a program to put a stop to it and I believe that a lawsuit is about the only way to show that damn CARB bunch that they are subject to the law too.
—Jack Down, Citizens Against Repressive Zoning (C.A.R.Z.)
Scrappage programs are of great importance as we [Volvo Club of America] make heavy use of a nationwide network of recycle yards that specialize in Volvos—several of which are in California. The older models, of which there are many on the road due to Volvo's legendary longevity, depend on these recycled parts as new replacements and are often no longer available, even through the new Classic Parts distributor that handles parts for the 140 (1974) and earlier series Volvos. The sudden appearance of a California [scrappage program] was a shock—it seems to smell of a sneak attack. I hope that there is hope of reversing this action either through popular response to legislators or through legal action. If allowed to stand and Florida follows, it would seem that a nationwide trend could easily follow that would all but eliminate the vintage car as an operating vehicle.
—Steve Seekins, President, Volvo Club of America
Can You Believe?
Here is a regulatory horror story, an example of a ridiculous law or regulation that adversely affects a business or individual. If the following irritates you, let your legislators know and offer to work with them to reduce the tide of legislative and regulatory overkill. Also, let the SEMA Washington office know if you have any similar horror stories to share.
Racing Celebrity Fined for Saving Lives
In December 1996, three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser and a friend were snowmobiling in the Rio Grande National Forest when, without warning, a blizzard hit and the two men got lost in the 60- to 70-mile an hour winds. While driving around in circles, both snowmobiles broke down and the two spent the night in a snow cave they dug for themselves. The next morning they managed to walk out of the woods to safety. Both men were hospitalized for their exposure to bitter cold temperatures.
Upon leaving the hospital, United States Forest Service Officials (USFS) served Unser a citation alleging that during the course of the blizzard, he had taken his snowmobile into a wilderness area where such equipment is prohibited. The USFS pursued the case even though they had no evidence that he entered a restricted area.
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.
CALIFORNIA A.B. 57 would require the state Air Resources Board to assess the relative contribution of upwind emissions to downwind pollution. The bill would also include transported air pollutants as part of the enhanced vehicle inspection and maintenance program.
MISSOURI S.B. 118 would provide that no vehicle which passes all emissions inspection components of the I/M test shall be failed based solely on the visual inspection.
MISSISSIPPI H.B. 591 would require front auxiliary driving lights on motor vehicles to be connected to a dimmer switch.
SOUTH CAROLINA H.B. 3144 would require that heads of households receiving aid to families with dependent children (AFDC) or public or private nonprofit agencies working with families receiving AFDC be given first priority in purchasing state surplus or disposed of vehicles.
TEXAS H.B. 56 would require that any individual intending to sell a motor vehicle must first obtain a permit from the county tax collector.
MISSISSIPPI S.B. 2140 (H.B. 123) would prohibit any motor vehicle for which a salvage or junk certificate of title has been issued from being operated on public highways except for vehicles being restored to their original condition, which may be moved to and from repair points as necessary.
MISSISSIPPI H.B. 584 would repeal the state's annual motor vehicle safety inspection program.
MISSISSIPPI H.B. 499 would remove the exemption from the state's safety inspection program for motor vehicles manufactured prior to 1961.
ARKANSAS H.B. 1012 would repeal the section of the code requiring individuals applying for a historic or special interest license plate to have registered at least one other vehicle with regular plates, used for regular transportation.
MISSOURI S.B. 56 (H.B. 173) would amend current law to allow vehicles registered as "historic" to be inspected biennially instead of annually.
February SAN Club Events
February 7, Sacramento, California
Sponsor: Buick Club of America, California Capitol Chapter
Information: Ruth Ann Rose, 916/421-5028
February 14, Los Angeles, California
Studebaker Drivers Club Winter Meet Car Show and Swap Meet
Sponsor: Studebaker Drivers Club, Los Angeles Chapter
Information: Bill Balduff, 818/780-3918
February 7, Palmetto, Florida
11th Annual Collector Car, Rod and Truck Show & Swap Meet
Sponsor: AACA, Manatee County Region Vintage Wheels
Information: Fred Weisbrod, 941/751-9404
February 13-14, Auburndale, Florida
11th Annual Central FL Auto and Toy Festival
Sponsor: Central Florida Auto Enthusiasts
Information: Doug Malcolm, 941/686-8320
February 28, Wheaton, Illinois
British Car Swap Meet and Autojumble
Sponsor: Chicagoland MG Club
Information: Jim Evans, 630/858-8192
February 7, Columbus, Ohio
All Pontiac Swap Meet
Sponsor: Central Ohio GTO Association
Information: Jim Evans, 740/927-5302
February 19-21, Cincinnati, Ohio
1999 SEMA Performance Show
Sponsor: Specialty Equipment Market Association
Information: 909/396-0289, http://www.sema.org/
February 12-14, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Collector Car, Antique and Collectible Show
Sponsor: Carlisle Productions
February 28, Trenton, New Jersey
Winter Antique Auto Corral and Auto Parts Swap Meet
Sponsor: Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, Historic New Jersey Region
Information: Fred Schwartz, 609/588-9036
February 19-20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12 Annual Trade Show and Annual Meeting
Sponsor: Antique Automobile Club of America
Information: Charles Carisch, 302/239-0741
February 25-28, San Antonio, Texas
1999 Street Rod and Restoration Trade Conference
Sponsor: Specialty Equipment Market Association
Information: 909/396-0289, http://www.sema.org/