January 2005

Click here to view the newsletter as it was originally printed.

M-M-M-M Good
Montana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Maine Among States Considering SEMA-Model Street Rod/Custom Bill
Montana, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Maine are among the states whose legislators have sought the SEMA Action Network's (SAN) involvement in enacting model street rod and custom vehicle titling and registration legislation in 2005.  Said Montana State Senator John Brueggeman (R-6th Senate District), "Montana wants to be as business friendly and as friendly to the custom car hobbyists as possible.  This bill represents another chance for us to meet that goal."
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, a replica vehicles is assigned the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles. 
In 2004, car hobbyists scored a major victory when SEMA's model bill was enacted into law in Rhode Island and Missouri.  The bill was previously enacted in Illinois in 2002.  The Missouri measure also exempted all vehicles 26 years old and older from emissions inspections.  The 26-year rolling emissions test exemption replaced a law that exempted only vehicles manufactured prior to the 1971 model year. 
 The SEMA-model bill stipulates that vehicles titled and registered as street rods and custom vehicles may be used only for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, etc. and not for general daily transportation.  The model bill is the product of consultation with the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA), local police departments, regulators and hobbyists.
"We are extremely gratified that Montana, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Maine could soon join the others on the list of states that recognize street rods and customs as distinct classes of vehicles," said SEMA Vice President, Government Affairs Steve McDonald.  "Of extreme interest to these states and of huge benefit to hobbyists is that the model bill also includes qualifying replicas and kit cars in these specialty vehicle titling and registration classifications."
"The model bill will continue to be pursued by SEMA in years to come in states that either don't have registration classifications for these vehicles or have laws that are lacking in some way," McDonald added. 
Anyone interested in reviewing the model bill or obtaining information on how to pursue a plan to enact the model into law in their state should contact Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.
SAN Closes Out 2004 with Victories in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Last minute attempts by lawmakers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to pass legislation harmful to the auto hobby were blocked by the quick action of SAN members in these states. Supporters of the measures hoped that the bills would go unnoticed in the confusing atmosphere that exists at the end of each legislative year.
Enthusiasts in New Jersey scored a legislative victory against a measure that would have unreasonably restricted the hours of operation of motor-vehicle racetracks. The bill, which was withdrawn for the year, would have prohibited the operation of racetracks located within a one-mile radius of residential housing before 11:00 a.m. and after 10:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, tracks could have operated only between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. These time restrictions would have made operating any race facility nearly impossible.
The measure represented an attempt by a small group of New Jersey residents to silence racing without regard to racing enthusiasts. The legislation would have imposed a statewide, one-size-fits-all approach to racetrack control, ignoring the significant economic and recreational benefits these facilities provide.
SAN members in Pennsylvania also rallied together to oppose legislation that would have effectively prohibited the use of exhaust systems other than a "factory-installed muffler" or a "muffler meeting factory specifications." The measure died when the Pennsylvania Legislature adjourned for the year without taking action on the legislation. The timing of the introduction of the bill, coming just one week before the end of the legislative session, signaled that legislators were prepared to rush this bill through the hearing process.
The bill's sponsors failed to recognize the numerous benefits provided by aftermarket exhaust systems, choosing instead to perpetuate the erroneous assumption that enthusiasts who equip their vehicles with modified exhaust systems are involved in illegal street racing. As written, the bill would have made it nearly impossible for hobbyist to replace factory exhaust systems. Supporters of the measure ignored the fact that aftermarket exhaust systems are proven to improve vehicle performance and efficiency without increasing emissions.
In a remarkable sequence of events, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Transportation Committee contacted the SAN within 15 minutes of the action alert being sent out asking that we "call the dogs off."
"I am in awe by the rapid and overwhelming response by SAN members in standing up on behalf of the auto hobby," said newly appointed SAN Director Jason Tolleson. "Sponsors of these measures witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of this fast-acting, enthusiast-driven effort.
"The SAN is truly grateful for the numerous contacts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania whose quick action led to the defeat of these bills. Should these measures be introduced again in 2005, I look forward to working with SAN members to defeat such narrow-sighted legislation."
SEMA Comments on Proposed Changes to Forest Service Roadless Rule
SEMA, on behalf of the SAN, submitted comments to a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposal that would establish a state petitioning process for inventoried roadless area management. The SEMA/SAN-supported proposed rule will provide state and local stakeholders, through their governor, an opportunity to offer expert advise on crafting a responsible management policy on motorized recreation and protected roadless areas.  SEMA commented that the proposed rule should eliminate ongoing legal challenges to the current roadless policy set in 2001. 
"Decisions regarding OHV access are best determined at the local level, ensuring that a proper balance between access and preservation is achieved," said SEMA Vice President, Government Affairs Steve McDonald.  "The USFS should take advantage of this petitioning process to correct inaccurate roadless designations and include uninventoried routes that are well known to users and state officials but do not appear on current USFS maps," McDonald added.
Given the overwhelming response to the proposed rule, it is uncertain at this time if and when a final decision will be released by the USFS.
'32 Roadster Turnin' Heads
Owner: Bob Hibbs
St. George, Utah
"Too many rods are built like race cars and then babied on the street.  Not this one.  He's not afraid to drive it.  This rod gets driven-sometimes hard but always with care."
-- Eric Hibbs, owner's son
Specs: Harwood body; Harwood chassis; 350/350; Ford 8-inch with 3.90 gears; Walker radiator; Rootlieb three-piece hood; Pete & Jake's 4-inch tubular drop axle and four-link; rear ladder bars (all suspension chromed); Wheel Vintique steelies and Coker whitewall tires; GM tilt colum;, Lokar shifter with 8 ball; LeCarra mahogany banjo wheel; custom tonneau cover, Flowmaster 40 Series muffler; fully upholstered trunk.
Thanks to all who have sent in or e-mailed us photos. Please continue to send us photos of your trail rides, restorations in progress, rod runs, car shows, charity events and drag races. Kindly submit pictures to: san@sema.org.
Federal Government Urged to Withdraw Rule Banning Enhanced Replacement Headlamps
SEMA urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to withdraw its final interpretation of the federal lighting rule that effectively bans previously legal headlamp replacement systems. 
NHTSA proposed the controversial interpretation last year and completed action this past October.  Under NHTSA's new policy, replacement headlamps must comply with all applicable photometry requirements using the same light source as the OEM equipment. For example, the rule would now prohibit replacing a halogen-based system with high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps that otherwise meet all requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108. 
SEMA filed a Petition for Reconsideration challenging NHTSA's authority to issue a rule that failed to comply with long-standing policy of basing federal safety standards on performance rather than design criteria.  NHTSA did not supply any objective facts demonstrating a need for a design-based application of FMVSS No. 108, a prerequisite for issuance of a safety standard.  For example, NHTSA did not produce any evidence that a restrictive rule would reduce traffic accidents, deaths or injuries.  The action even contradicts NHTSA's previous decision to withdraw its rulemakings on issues concerning glare, since the agency admits there is not currently enough information on which to make any lighting rule changes.  SEMA also contends that NHTSA engaged in an illegal rulemaking procedure that will nevertheless be subject to court review.
"The agency's interpretation effectively establishes an original-equipment standard for headlamp light sources and holds that the original-equipment light source type cannot be modified or otherwise altered by aftermarket manufacturers seeking to improve the lighting of a given vehicle," said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting.  "There is absolutely no industry support for a design-restrictive application of FMVSS No. 108."  Public comments against the new interpretation represented all aspects of the industry including automobile manufacturers, trailer manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers, lighting manufacturers (both original equipment, replacement and specialty equipment), manufacturers of other motor vehicle equipment, the trucking industry and an association of vehicle owners. 
"We are prepared to fight on behalf of automotive enthusiasts who seek to responsibly accessorize, modify and improve the safety or their vehicles with aftermarket lighting equipment," said SEMA Vice President, Government Affairs Steve McDonald.  "There is no legitimate justification for preventing enthusiasts from using lighting systems that meet federal standards," added McDonald.
SEMA requested that NHTSA suspend enforcement of the amended rule pending final consideration of the Petition.
SEMA Recommends Changes to Tire-Pressure Monitoring System Plan
SEMA submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on its proposal that all new vehicles be equipped with tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) capable of detecting when a tire is significantly under-inflated.  While strongly endorsing that mission, SEMA urged NHTSA to ensure that the TPMS operate correctly with any appropriate tire/wheel package that is installed on the vehicle, not just the original tires.
"Auto enthusiasts and the motoring public have a legitimate expectation that the TPMS will continue to operate properly when replacement or alternate tires and wheels are installed," said Stuart Gosswein, SEMA's Government Affairs Manager.  "As written, the rule would require only that the TPMS work when the vehicle is first sold.  This is not good enough.  The TPMS must also work whenever the tires/wheels are replaced or swapped out.  This may be the day after the vehicle is sold and an enthusiast wants new wheels for enhanced performance or styling.  In order to overcome this hurdle, NHTSA must require vehicle manufacturers to share all information necessary to permit installation and servicing of aftermarket tires and wheels."
All new vehicles would also be equipped with a dashboard malfunction indicator to alert the driver that the system was not working.  SEMA cited this as yet another reason to require access to servicing information, to ensure that the indicator continues to work properly with all appropriate tire/wheel combinations.  NHTSA is expected to issue a final rule in mid-2005, with a two-year phase-in period beginning in September 2005.
Attention Car Clubs, Event Organizers and Enthusiasts!
Put SAN on Your Mailing List!
We'd like to know what's going on with SEMA Action Network clubs and enthusiasts across the country; what charity events you're involved in; when and where the rod runs, car shows, trail rides, rallies and tech meetings are held; and what legislative and regulatory issues concern club members and individual enthusiasts.
One of the best ways to keep us abreast of what's going on and what's important to the vehicle hobbies nationwide is for us to receive your club newsletters and updates. Please consider placing SEMA on your mailing list. Send correspondence to: SEMA Action Network, 1317 F Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C.20004-1105. Or by e-mail at san@sema.org.
We Get Letters
I just received a citation for a "noisy exhaust."  I have asked around about any laws or regulations dealing with exhaust noise in Virginia but can't seem to get a straight answer. 
--Skip Jones
Culpepper, VA
In some states, noise limits for modified exhaust systems are established and tested through an easy-to-administer standard inspection.  In California, for example, provisions were made for the testing of vehicle exhaust noise to a standard adopted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to an established noise limit of 95 decibels (SAE J1169).  Unfortunately, such a program does not exist in Virginia and law enforcement officials are authorized to make a subjective interpretation of a modified vehicle's exhaust-noise level as compared to the noise emitted by the vehicle's original muffler.  While we agree that aftermarket exhaust systems should not be used in a way to cause overly loud or objectionable noise, current Virginia law is subjective and discriminates against aftermarket systems without recognizing the benefits of increased performance, fuel efficiency and durability.
Attempts in the past to interest Virginia lawmakers in SEMA-model exhaust-noise testing legislation (versions of which has been enacted in California, Washington State, Maine and New Hampshire) have not been welcomed with opened arms.  As a Virginia resident, you should contact your state legislators to request introduction of the bill.  We can help you identify your legislators and provide speaking points on the issue.  After the bill is introduced, we will work with our enthusiast and business contacts and other interested parties to help get it enacted into law.
If you have any question, or would like a copy of SEMA's exhaust-noise model bill, please direct those requests to Steve McDonald.  He can be reached at stevem@sema.org.
January 8, Tempe
7th Annual Motorsports Day
Information: 480/296-1086
January 14-16, Lake Havasu City
Buses by the Bridge IX
Information: www.busesbythebridge.com
January 22, Tubac
11th Annual Car Show
Sponsor: Santa Cruz Valley Car Nuts
Information: www.carnuts.org or 520/648-7029
January 23, Tucson
38th Annual Rallye Del Ano Nuevo
Sponsor: Southern Arizona Mustang Club
Information:  520/885-5325
January 29, Phoenix
Race n Rod Swap Meet & Car Corral
Sponsor: Arizona Vintage Racers
Information: 602/242-2964
January 8, Vista
18th Annual Burger Run
Information: 760/744-3340
January 14-16, Grass Valley
23rd Winter Fun Festival
Sponsor: California Association of 4WD Clubs Inc.
Information: 530/622-1117 or www.cal4wheel.com
January 19, El Cajon
Annual Toys for Tots/ San Diego Auto & Cycle Swap
Information: www.sandiegoautoswap.com or 858/484-9342
January 21-23, Pomona
Hot Rods and Hollywood - Where the Stars are the Cars
Sponsor: Dan Cyr Enterprises Inc.
Information: www.hotrodshows.com or 877/236-0632
January 29-30, Turlock
39th Annual Modesto Model A Ford Swap Meet
Information: 209/526-1919
January 2, Enfield at Powder Mill Barn
Antique Auto Swap/Sell Flea Market
Sponsor: Model A Ford Club of CT
Information: 413/584-6777
January 7-9, Ft Lauderdale
32nd Annual Collector Car Auction
Sponsor: Kruise International
Information: 800/968-4444 or www.kruse.com
January 16, Port Charlotte
Southwest Florida Vintage All GM Vehicle Show
Sponsor: Southwest Florida Region Vintage Chevrolet Club
Information: 941/628-3356
January 15, Cape Coral
14th Annual Cape Coral Car Show
Sponsor: Edison Region AACA
Information: 239/772 9209 or momndadstein@aol.com
January 29, Melbourne at Wickham Park
Mopar Super Swap VI Car Show Meet & Corral
Sponsor: Mopars of Brevard
Information: 321/951-0301
January 23, West Chicago
28th Annual Auto Parts Swap Meet
Sponsor: Silver Springs Chapter IL Region AACA
Information: 815/498-2669
January 9, Indianapolis   
Super Sunday Swap Meet at Indiana State Fairgrounds West Pavilion
Sponsor:  Mid America Promotions
Information: 708/563-4300 or www.midamericapromotions.com 
January 30, Goshen at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds
13th Annual Winter Swap Meet
Sponsor: Michiana Classic Chevy Club
Information: 574/533-0292
January 14-16, Wichita
48th Annual Darryl Starbird National Hot Rod & Custom Car Show and Action Arena
Information: ldmstar@junct.com or 918/257-4234
January 21-23, New Orleans
37th Annual World of Wheels at the Louisiana Superdome
Information: 985/646-2250 or carter@worldofwheels.com
January 15-16, West Springfield
29th Annual Autoparts Swap N Sell at the Eastern States Exposition Complex
Information: 860/871-6376
January 22, Cambridge
17th Annual Winter Parts Meet at Sailwinds Park
Sponsor: Bay Country Region AACA
Information: 410/228-5252
January 8, Jackson
18th Annual Car Show - Racing Vehicle Extravaganza
Information: 601/832-3020 or wsbissell@aol.com
January 21-23, Diamond Head
13th Annual Winter Rod Run
Sponsor: Southern Who Street Rod Assoc.
Information: 228/452-3584 or www.southernwho.com
January 1-2, Maumee
Toledo Swap Meet & Car Corral
Information: 419/549-0272 or swapmeet@woh.rr.com
January 7-9, Cincinnati Convention Center
World of Wheels Autorama Cavalcade of Customs
Information: 614/876-6773 or www.auorama.com/casi/contact.htm
January 16, Medina
13th Annual Car Parts Swap Meet
Sponsor: Northern Ohio Model A Club
Information: 330/483-3896
January 21-23, Cleveland
Cleveland Autorama's 40th Annual Car Show ISCA
Information: 216/382-1616 or www.clevelandautorama.com
January 15-17, Allentown
Information: 717/215-0700 or www.automaniashows.com
January 7-9, Chattanooga
37th Annual Chattanooga World of Wheels Car Show
Sponsor: Motor Sports Productions, Inc
Information: www.customautoshows.com
January 29-30, Gray at Appalachian Fairgrounds
9th Annual Performance Automotive Swap Meet
Information: 423/968-7150
January 28-30, Sandy at South Towne Expo Center
31st Annual Parts Plus AutoRama
Information: 801/773-2379 or www.autorama.com