SEMA Action Network Forges a Legacy

Back to Driving Force, Spring 2018

SAN 20th Anniversary Part IV

*The final part of the SAN’s 20th Anniversary series, continued from the Fall 2017 issue of Driving Force


  The Coachmen’s Collector Car Appreciation Day event at Simi Valley Town Center, California. Promoter Skeeter Rader (right) and Co-Chair Paul Dryman (left) received certificates of recognition from the administrative assistant to former state Senator Tony Strickland for the club’s effort to promote the hobby.

Within a few years of its founding, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) was able to influence laws nationwide and arrived at a turning point. An increasing number of people wanted to join the network as individuals. It became clear to the staff that this strictly grassroots effort needed to identify ways to promote further growth, so the focus was expanded to include those not necessarily affiliated with an organized group. SEMA’s California-based headquarters was enlisted to improve the Driving Force newsletter’s production value, a move that relieved the office in D.C. from duties as a makeshift mailing house. It has since become an award-winning publication. An official logo was designed and implemented by early 2003 to give the SAN a visual identity, followed by additional marketing materials and promotional items. Development of a modest website became necessary as well. At first, it was populated with legislative material and a contact e-mail address to request information. Soon enough, exposure exploded and the data management quickly became unwieldy.

After 10 years, it became obvious that those north of the border faced nearly identical challenges when it came to vehicle laws. Thus, the SAN broadened its legislative advocacy efforts to include the Canadian Parliament and provincial governments. Expansion into Canada took place in 2007, when a working relationship with the National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada (NAACC) was established. “The NAACC values the work SEMA does and gives the organization full support. We urge all collector car enthusiasts across Canada to join the SAN,” said NAACC president and CEO John Carlson. A number of groups have since invested in supporting the SAN’s initiatives, such as the Specialty Vehicle Association (SVA) and Manitoba Association of Auto Clubs (MAAC) among others.

The SAN earned a special day of celebration for the auto hobby with the first national Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD) in 2010. Intended to celebrate the classics of the past and the future, the U.S. Senate first helped launch CCAD by passing a Resolution at the SAN’s request. This “holiday” acknowledged that the “collection and restoration of historic and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States.” Every July since, a wide range of car shows and other events are held to commemorate the occasion. As devoted SAN member William “Skeeter” Rader explains, “The Coachmen have held a cruise each year on CCAD to heighten awareness of collector cars, not only to hobbyists and the general public, but to legislators at all levels.” CCAD has grown worldwide, inspiring a number of states, provinces, counties and cities to follow suit with their own recognition.


Colby Martin, the SAN director since 2011, is pictured with the ’31 Ford Model A hot rod that he built with his dad Al. The car was debuted at the SAN’s 2015 SEMA Show display. During their spare time, the Martins spent 13 years collecting parts and refinishing the coupe.



SAN Director Colby Martin took the lead of the SAN at SEMA’s headquarters in late 2011 after establishing a career with the association. He was hired by SEMA while still attending college with a lifelong interest in cars and trucks already behind him. “Honestly, I’d never had much of an interest in politics nor any career aspirations in the legislative realm,” he commented. “But the notion of gearheads like me uniting to protect the hobby we love has had a pure appeal since my earliest days with the organization.”

With tens of thousands of individual members representing each state in the United States and the Canadian provinces, the SAN has become a formidable policy-influencing powerhouse with ever-growing influence throughout the legislatures Significant legislative victories have been achieved in the areas of titling and emissions requirements for collector vehicles, limiting vehicle and property tax increases, protecting backyard restoration projects, expanding registration plate options, increasing recreational access to public land and limiting federal and state-level ethanol fuel mandates. Replica fans will soon be able to purchase turn-key vehicles thanks to a SAN-supported law. Most recently, a grassroots movement to “Save Our Race Cars” and support the RPM Act has gone viral.

SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting adds that the most important thing to note about the success of the SAN is that it succeeds because the enthusiasts take part. “It’s been dynamite to see how the SAN will get up and go when they’re asked. The group is nothing without that great community taking action when opportunities or threats to their hobby are pointed out. However, it’s getting tougher to keep the hobby alive. Vehicles are getting more complicated. Laws and regulations are becoming more burdensome. We’re going to need to be more active and vigilant than ever before. Thankfully, there is such an ingrained tradition and history in this country of enjoying automobiles.”

From everyone who comprises the SAN, thank you for your dedication and vigilance over the last two decades. May the coming years bring even greater triumphs!