10 Years and Counting
A Trip Down Memory Lane and an Outline For the Future
As we welcome the New Year, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) is celebrating a special occasion‹our 10th year of publishing Driving Force. In the last 10 years, we have all witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of dedicated SAN members as you have worked to directly influence motor vehicle hobby legislation and used this newsletter to share numerous success stories.
In this time, the SAN has grown by leaps and bounds in numbers of individual enthusiasts, clubs, and hobby-related businesses that have answered the call. Through the help of SAN members like you, our pro-hobby grassroots organization has become a household name among the automotive enthusiasts and more importantly‹in state capitols across the country and in Washington, D.C. Our successes have demonstrated the benefits of active involvement and the grass roots potency of hobbyists across the country.
Through the SAN, and its legislative partner, the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, we have reached out to lawmakers for support in this cause. With more than 120 members currently serving in state legislatures in more than 40 states, the Caucus has raised the profile of the automotive hobby within these legislative arenas. Several Caucus members have already introduced pro-hobby legislation or will this year. As you will see in this issue, three of our Caucus members won U.S. Congressional seats in the past election and will be taking their automotive passion to our nations' capital.
The SAN has grown from the early days of sending out faxes, phone trees and mailers, to instant e-mail messages and up-to-date postings on the SAN website. The SAN is now reaching out to millions of enthusiasts through informative ads in magazines, websites, internet forums, and chat rooms. The SAN also made its television debut through three commercials, which can be seen on hobby-related programming as well as on the SAN website.
However, even with all of this new technology and momentum behind the SAN, we have not forgotten what has gotten us to where we are today you, the enthusiast. All of the phone calls, all of the letters and e-mails come from you. The success of the SAN is due in no small part to your dedicated efforts.
Unfortunately, as the hobby continues to grow and reach unprecedented levels of exposure, so comes the additional scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators. We have seen lawmakers attempt to restrict the ways in which we can modify, restore, enhance and use our vehicles. We have seen lawmakers try to scrap old cars or restrict our ability to restore collector vehicles on private property. We have seen regulators attempt to close thousands of acres of riding areas and numerous trails to off-roaders. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that these attempts do not go unchecked.
While we have learned quite a bit in the last 10 years, it's safe to say that our work is far from done. Through the continued support and dedication of SAN members across the country, we look forward to continuing the cause of preserving and protecting this great tradition.
On behalf of all of us at the SEMA Action Network, we wish you and your family (yes‹that includes your car-club families) a happy and prosperous New Year.
LEGISLATIVE QUICK HITS
New Jersey Historic Vehicles: The New Jersey legislature introduced SAN-supported legislation to allow historic vehicles to be used for pleasure driving one day per week. Under current law, owners of properly registered historic motor vehicles are permitted to operate them solely for exhibition and educational purposes. In order to be designated as historic, a vehicle must be at least 25 years old and owned as a collector's item.
Ohio Inoperable Vehicles: SEMA is opposing Ohio legislation that would restrict the ability of state vehicle hobbyists from maintaining inoperable vehicles on private property. The bill was approved by the House Municipal Government and Urban Revitalization Committee. Under the measure, townships would have the authority to remove inoperable vehicles deemed to be "junk," including collector cars, from private property. Under current Ohio law, a junk motor vehicle must be "three model years old or older; apparently inoperable; extensively damaged, including, but not limited to, any of the following: missing wheels, tires, engine or transmission." SEMA supports legislation that permits the outdoor storage of motor vehicles if the vehicles are maintained in such a manner so as not to constitute a health hazard. These vehicles could be located away from public view, or screened by means of a suitable fence, trees, shrubbery, opaque covering or other appropriate means.
Washington Accessory Lights: In comments to a regulation proposed by the Washington State Patrol, the SAN urged the agency to abandon efforts to unnecessarily restrict accent lighting on motor vehicles. The state is proposing to prohibit ". . . novelty lighting, including but not limited to lighting on tire stems or valves, windshield wipers or washer, under the vehicle body/carriage, door handles, truck handles and antennas," while a vehicle is being operated on public roadways. The SAN supports reasonable and relevant safety regulations and encourages efforts to improve highway safety. However, the SAN opposes any use limitations or prohibitions on optional lighting equipment or accessories not related to a proven safety hazard. Some vehicles are equipped with "novelty" lights as accent lighting for styling purposes. These accent lighting devices increase the conspicuity of the vehicle and have no effect on motor vehicle safety. Optional and accessory lighting equipment is not prohibited by federal law.
Movin' On Up!
State Legislative Caucus Members Win Seats in Congress
Three members of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus won seats in the U.S. Congress. Montana State Senator Jon Tester, Arizona State Representative Gabrielle Giffords and Arizona State Senator Harry Mitchell defeated opponents in the November 7, 2006 elections and have made their way to Washington, D.C.
While he was President of the Montana State Senate, Jon Tester joined the Caucus in the midst of a campaign for U.S. Senate in April 2006. In joining the Caucus he enthusiastically remarked, "Count me in. Restoration of vehicles is a love of mine and a passion of my son." Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Tester served in the Montana Legislature with current Caucus Chairman John Brueggeman. As a farmer, Tester has never been afraid of getting his hands dirty, including wrenching on cars.
Prior to being elected to public office, Gabrielle Giffords, a long-time auto enthusiast and car collector, ran her family's automotive and tire business in Tucson, Arizona. Despite selling the business, she has not given up her automotive interests. "Although I sold my business in 2000, I continue to be active in automotive events from my own car restorations to going to the Indy 500," said Giffords.
Harry Mitchell, the Assistant Minority Leader in the Arizona State Senate, was convinced to run for U.S. Congress in April 2006. A member of the Caucus since July of 2005, Mitchell has been involved in politics for over 30 years, including stints as a councilman, mayor, and Arizona State Senator. Mitchell's Congressional district includes Scottsdale, Arizona, which is the location of the well-known Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction.
* Editor's Note: Each month Driving Force will feature a member of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. The SEMA-supported caucus is a bi-partisan group of state lawmakers whose common thread is a love and appreciation for automobiles. Here is its newest Caucus member:
Assemblyman Mike Duvall
HEY, THAT'S MY CAR!
D.C. or Bust!
'68 Ford Mustang Fastback & '77 Toyota Celica GT
Owner: Jason Rudd
Pleasant Hill, California
It's not often that you get to combine a college education with a hobby, but as the new intern for the SEMA Action Network I get to do just that. While wrapping up my senior year at Brigham Young University, I'm going to spend the next four months furthering my political studies in Washington, D.C. by interning for the SEMA Government Affairs Office. In this role, I will get to work directly with SAN members to help preserve this hobby that I feel so passionately about.
My love for cars started early, as I can recall watching my first race at Laguna Seca Raceway when I was only four-or five-years-old. In high school this passion grew as I got my hands on a '68 Fastback, which became a project car for me and my dad. Like with any car project it's never truly finished. It's now undergoing its second restoration and is in a thousand pieces in my dad's garage. Although college life has necessitated putting the Mustang on hiatus in favor of a more urban-ready vehicle, my current ride is still pretty cool. It's a 1977 Toyota Celica GT that's basically stock and it gets almost as many complements (surprisingly) as the Mustang.
While my education has awakened my interest in business and law, my true passion has always been anything with a motor and wheels. Like so many other enthusiasts, I can trace my love for all things automotive to my father and grandfather, who took the time to take me to car shows and races, and who taught me life lessons through turning wrenches. It is difficult for those outside the hobby to understand the sentimental attachment we have for our cars and trucks, but the hobby must be protected and preserved. While I am just a small part of the team, I look forward to doing whatever I can to contribute to the SAN's mission of keeping our collective dream alive.
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: SEMA Action Network, 1317 F Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20004. You also may upload high-resolution digital pictures (minimum 5 inches wide at 300 dpi) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Hampshire, Vermont Wilderness Bill Signed Into Law
In a flurry of late year legislative activity, President Bush signed into law a measure that designated 76,000 acres of wilderness in New England.
Based on recommendations from the U.S. Forest Service, approximately 34,500 acres of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest were designated as wilderness. The bill also provided for three wilderness areas totaling 41,600 acres in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest. The Vermont designation would have been larger, but Governor Jim Douglas objected to such a large wilderness designation in his state. He worked with federal lawmakers to remove 6,000 acres from the initial proposal.
The SAN continues to support land use decisions that allow local stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process. Within that context, the SAN supports compromise approaches on wilderness areas that balance the need to preserve access to appropriate motorized recreation while protecting some of our nation's natural wonders. The SAN is evaluating the practical or potential impact of these designations on the off-road community.
On The Road Again
We invite you to stop by and meet with Jason Tolleson, director of the SEMA Action Network, at these events in January:
January 5-7, Boston
World of Wheels
Bayside Expo Center
January 26-28, Pomona
Grand National Roadster Show
Los Angeles County Fairplex
A Car Show For the Kids
A little rain and a few clouds didn't stop car enthusiasts in Virginia from showing off their cars and helping out a great cause at the same time. In its fourth year, the Virginia Fall Classic raised over $35,000 for the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters. In addition to providing enthusiasts in the mid-Atlantic another opportunity to display their vehicles before the winter, this event has raised more than $93,000 for the hospital since 2003.
Held in Newport News, Virginia in late October, the Fall Classic is sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Car Club Council and its 18 participating club members. The SAN would like to extend special thanks to the sponsors, vendors, and the dedicated hard working volunteers who helped make this event a success. For more information on the Virginia Fall Classic visit www.vafallclassic.org.
Editor's note: Please send your Club Spotlight stories and photos to the SAN at email@example.com.
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, 1317 F Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004-1105. Or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.