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And They’re Off!
State Lawmakers Hit the Ground Running with Pro-Hobby Legislation in 2008
Members of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus are wasting little time in preparing to move pro-hobby legislation early in this new year. These lawmakers are amongst 230 state legislators from all 50 states in the Caucus who are actively working to preserve and protect the automotive hobby.
Leading in this charge are Caucus members in four states who have each introduced the SEMA Street-Rod/Custom Vehicle model bill. This measure creates registration and titling classifications for these vehicles, provides for a one-time registration fee, and assigns a qualifying vehicle the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles. Under the bill, vehicles are limited to occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades and tours and are not to be used for general daily transportation.
In Michigan, State Representative Joel Sheltrown (pictured left) got a head start late last year as the bill he sponsored was heard before the House Committee on Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources Committee. As Chairman of that Committee, Sheltrown has vowed to move the bill quickly to the floor of the Michigan House. SAN members in Michigan should stay tuned for updates on this bill.
New Hampshire Representative Michael Reuschel has also introduced legislation that would incorporate the custom-vehicle portion of SEMA-model legislation into the state’s vehicle code. Under the bill, the state would create a specific registration class for custom vehicles defined as “at least 25 years old and of a model year after 1948, or manufactured to resemble a vehicle 25 or more years old and of a model year after 1948.” The certificate of title of a custom vehicle would list the model year that the body of the vehicle resembles. This measure will supplement the existing street-rod classification in New Hampshire.
In the Buckeye state, Ohio Representatives John Hagan and Kenny Yuko (above) introduced the SEMA-model bill and are currently awaiting a hearing before the House Infrastructure, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs Committee. Both members joined with the SEMA Action Network (SAN) at the kickoff of the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour in Cleveland last June. After witnessing numerous street rods and custom vehicles on display, Hagan and Yuko are seeking to simplify the titling and registration process to help attract more enthusiasts to the state.
After running out of time in the short legislative session last year, Wyoming Representative Pat Childers (above left) will be reintroducing the SEMA-model bill again in 2008. Last year the measure was approved by the House of Representatives but was not considered by the Senate before the legislature adjourned. This year Childers will be joined by fellow Caucus member Stan Blake (above right) in pushing the bill through the Wyoming legislature.
In addition to these states, the bill is pending in Massachusetts and New York. Caucus Chairman and New York State Assemblyman Bill Reilich is working with his colleagues on the Transportation Committee to bring the bill the before the Committee this year.
“The efforts by these Caucus members clearly demonstrate the benefit of creating relationships between enthusiasts and lawmakers in enacting hobby-friendly legislation,” said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “Caucus members from Iowa and Kansas have also expressed interest in having the SEMA-model bill introduced in their states.”
“Don’t Crush ’Em, Restore ’Em”
Although he retired in 1997 after 20 years working for the railroads, Montana State Representative Gordon Hendrick has not slowed down one bit. In addition to raising two wonderful kids with his wife Vicky in the small town of Superior, he served on the City Council, was mayor for 11 years, and continues to volunteer with numerous community organizations. He was elected to the State Legislature in 2004 and co-sponsored the SEMA Street-Rod/Custom Vehicle model bill in 2005 with State Senator John Brueggeman.
Throughout all of these activities, Hendrick still finds time to enjoy “some vacation time,” working on collector cars. As he recently told Driving Force, when it comes to the old car hobby, “Don’t crush ’em, restore ’em.”
Driving Force: Tell us a little bit more about your interest in the automotive hobby, including what vehicles you have owned over the years. Are there any projects you are currently working on?
Gordon Hendrick: I guess I became interested in cars and hot rods through my dad. Once I had my first car, my dad said there was no hope for me—I was hooked. Now my son is teaching his boys about the feelings you get from working on your first car. One of the reasons I became a legislator was to protect the rights of the automotive hobbyist.
Over the years I have owned so many cars and trucks that it would be hard to list them all. I just sold my ’62 Merc tin woody wagon that I had for about 12 years. My son was sad to see it go as he spent a lot of time with me on this car. I am currently working on a ’58 Studebaker Commander four-door cruiser, a ’75 Mercury Grabber, a ’59 Studebaker Lark and a ’51 five-window Chevy pickup with a drop-spindle axle, front disc brakes and a 12-bolt Posi rearend. The engine is an old-school 283 Chevy small-block that has a turbo 350 trans and a 2000 stall converter. As you can tell, I’m just a little car crazy.
Driving Force: As a legislator, what drew you to the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus?
GH: I have known about SEMA for quite some time but did not know about the Caucus until after working with Senator John Brueggeman on the SEMA Street Rod bill. While it wasn’t easy, it was great to get it passed.
Driving Force: You have shown support for the hobby by helping with the Montana Automotive Technologies program. Please give us a little more information about the organization and its mission to pass along the hobby to younger enthusiasts.
GH: Montana Automotive Technologies was founded upon a three-fold mission: 1) To provide automotive vocational opportunities to Missoula-area teens; 2) To increase the civic awareness of Missoula-area teens and their importance to the local community and; 3) To connect area teens with local mentors in a cooperative environment predicated on an appreciation for the local communities and automobiles.
The organization is committed to providing mentors to young adults and educating them through hands-on training. The school recently started internship programs where the students spend eight weeks working and receiving instruction from local automotive-based businesses. The internship program has proven to be an unequivocal success yielding knowledge and, in many cases, offering employment to students. The students agree to participate in a series of instructional sessions that talk about the importance of education and educational opportunities (vocational and traditional); the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and drug use; and the importance of civic involvement in the lcommunity and the rights and responsibilities of community citizenship.
Editor’s note: For more information on Montana Automotive Technologies, log onto www.montanaautomotivetechnologies.org or contact them by phone at 406/541-6284.
Driving Force: Americans have a love affair with the automobile. However, it has become increasingly difficult for enthusiasts to continue to restore and modify their vehicles. How important is it to protect the automotive hobby given the range of governmental efforts to limit what enthusiasts can do with their cars?
GH: If the automotive hobby is to continue, car enthusiasts need to be proactive in all areas of government, not just their local area. Federal laws affect everyone and as Dennis Gage of “My Classic Cars” has said, “This is a multibillion dollar business that is not necessary, but a demand from the automotive enthusiasts has proven otherwise.” If the enthusiasts and car clubs don’t become more involved in local, state and federal lawmaking, we as hobbyists will only be able to trailer our vehicles to car shows. If we allow this to happen, the only way our children and grandchildren will be able to see the old tin will be in a museum.
Driving Force: Is there any proactive legislation you would like to see introduced to protect the rights of hobbyists?
GH: There is nothing in the Montana law that defines a hobbyist or the difference between a junk vehicle and a project vehicle. So, for example, if your neighbor doesn’t like the look of your project car, they can call law enforcement officers and have you ticketed for having a junk vehicle. Chartered counties and cities can enforce even stronger standards than the state.
Driving Force: What advice do you have for enthusiasts and car clubs who want to become more involved in the legislative process?
GH: The majority of our environmental legislation in Montana is being driven by people in other parts of the county who are funding special-interest groups that have a lot of influence over our state legislative processes. I don’t know how it works in other states, but in Montana, anyone can show up and be heard during the committee hearings. When large groups start showing up, the legislators really pay attention. The Internet has also made it a lot easier for the average citizen to have their say in government and to keep in touch with their legislators. Joining the SEMA Action Network and receiving this information first-hand is a great first step in getting involved.
Our Allies to the North
The SAN Links With National Association of Antique Automobile Clubs of Canada Corporation to Support Canadian Hobbyists.
The National Association of Antique Automobile Clubs of Canada Corporation (NAAACCC) had its beginnings in the early ’60s when a group of car enthusiasts contacted car clubs across Canada to join them in lobbying the federal government to remove the duty and taxes charged on older autos and parts imported from the United States.
Forty years later, the NAAACCC not only monitors and speaks out against legislation affecting the auto hobby at the provincial and federal levels, but it also steps in to assist individuals who may be unfairly targeted by such legislation. Made up of car clubs whose interests range from pre-war to musclecars and beyond, the NAAACCC’s mission is to encourage a cooperative working relationship with government to prevent restrictive legislation and to promote and encourage the preservation of the automobile and its historic lore.
SEMA Action Network Director Jason Tolleson recently traveled to Toronto to participate in NAAACCC’s annual leadership meeting. With the recent expansion of the SAN’s legislative efforts into Canada, a working relationship between the two organizations will be of great benefit to the enthusiast community in Canada.
In addition to legislative lobbying, the NAAACCC provides guidance to its member clubs on items, such as show judging, restoration tips and other hobby-related information. They not only maintain close ties with their member clubs within Canada, but with other like-minded organizations from around the world as well. The current provincial directors of NAAACCC run the gamut from hobby-related business owners and founding members of provincial antique auto clubs to collectors of anything and everything automotive.
To find out more about the NAAACCC and its work, check out their website at www.naaaccc.ca.
Hey, That’s My Car!
"So Much for Peace and Quiet"
1969 Ford Mustang
Owner: Robert Thompson
After our children moved out of the house, my wife decided that I needed a project to keep me occupied. She came to the conclusion that a ’69 Ford Mustang would be the best way to keep me busy and give her some peace and quiet at the same time. I kept the car as stock-looking as possible except for a few changes needed to gain as much horsepower as possible.
So far, I have replaced the original transmission with a TCI C4 so I can put as much of the 347 stroker’s power on the road. I also added a nitrous kit, which was a gift from my daughter’s boyfriend. With future projects still to come, the Mustang continues to be a work in progress, especially after attending car shows and coming up with additional project ideas.
So far I haven’t won any awards at car shows with the Mustang, but this is no trailer queen. The best part of owning my classic is when I take it out on a cruise just to listen to the engine. Even my 2-year-old grandson, a future hobbyist, loves to hear the sound of the Mustang. Every time he sees the car he goes, “vroom-vroom.” So much for the peace and quiet my wife was trying to get when we bought the Mustang.
January 2008 SAN Club Events
January 12, Tubac
14th Annual Tubac Collector Car Show
Sponsor: Santa Cruz Valley Car Nuts
Information: www.carnuts.org or 520/885-6630
January 11–13, Phoenix
World of Wheels
January 11–13, San Francisco
San Francisco Rod, Custom and Motorcycle Show
Sponsor: Golden Gate Street Machines Unlimited
Information: www.sfcustomshow.com or 209/744-8090
January 11–13, Grass Valley
26th Winter Fun Fest
Sponsor: California Association of 4WD Clubs
Information: www.cal4wheel.com or 209/245-3214
January 13, La Jolla
La Jolla Motor Car Classic
January 25–27, Pomona
59th Annual Grand National Roadster Show
Information: www.hotrodshows.com/home.html or 877/769-7469
January 4–6, Atlanta
World of Wheels
January 19–20, Schaumburg
2008 World Drag Expo
Information: www.worlddragexpo.com or 800/816-8382
January 25–27, Chicago
World of Wheels
January 18–20, New Orleans
World of Wheels
January 4–6, Boston
34th Annual World of Wheels
January 11–13, Grand Rapids
39th Annual AutoRama
January 25–27, Saint Paul
46th Annual World of Wheels
January 18–19, Raleigh
22nd Annual Piedmont Racing Expo & Auction
Information: www.raceworks.com or 919/732-7024
Early February 2008 Events
February 8–10, Hartford
The Show of Dreams
Information: www.fmautoshow.com or 860/347-3625
February 1–3, Albuquerque
2008 Super Nationals
February 1–2, Greensboro
6th Annual Shriners Drag Racing & Hot Rod Expo
Information: www.raceworks.com or 336/697-0479
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 email@example.com.