September 2002

Rhode Island, Missouri Become Second and Third States to Enact SEMA Street Rod/Custom Vehicle Registration Bill
Illinois Enacts SEMA Street Rod/Custom Vehicle Registration Bill
Illinois rod and custom car hobbyists scored a major victory when SEMA model legislation to create titling and registration classes for street rods and custom vehicles was signed into law by Illinois Governor George Ryan in late July.  This new law provides for special license plates and exempts rods and customs from periodic inspections and emissions tests. It also allows for the use of non-original materials and creates a titling criterion that assigns these vehicles the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles. The Illinois law stipulates that vehicles titled and registered as street rods and custom vehicles may be used for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, etc., but not for general daily transportation.
This new law is the product of months of consultation between SEMA, the Illinois State Police, local police departments, the Illinois Office of the Secretary of State and the Illinois hobbyist community. "We are extremely gratified that Illinois will join the growing list of states that recognize street rods and customs as distinct classes of vehicles," said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. "The Illinois law offers the added benefit of including qualifying replicas and kit cars in the rod and custom and registration classifications."
SEMA Director of Public Affairs Brian Caudill emphasized the role hobbyists played in the legislative process: "SEMA is deeply indebted to Illinois SEMA Action Network clubs and individual hot rodders who worked hard to change Illinois law for the better. Without Mr. Frank Manzullo's (Unique Street Rod Club-Rockford, Illinois) public relations efforts, Mr. Charles Yapp's (Secrets of Speed Society-Chicagoland) political connections and, most importantly Mr. Gary Bohlen's (Committee to Upgrade Street Rod Laws in Illinois-Peoria) overall leadership and technical expertise, this effort would have been dead in the water." On behalf of SEMA, Caudill presented an award of recognition to Mr. Bohlen at the River City Street Rod Club's (Peoria, Illinois) summer rod show on July 14.
SEMA is hopeful hobbyists in other states that don't have proper registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles will support this model legislation. Similar initiatives are ongoing in Rhode Island and New York and we hope to add others to that list in the coming legislative sessions.
Massachusetts Bill To Ban Aftermarket Exhaust Systems Dies
A coalition of Massachusetts SEMA Action Network car clubs, individual enthusiasts, custom exhaust manufacturers and vehicle supply companies helped successfully kill Massachusetts legislation (H.B. 3593) that sought to prohibit the sale or installation of "an exhaust system which has been modified in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the exhaust."
The bill effectively died when the Massachusetts legislature adjourned its regular session for the year. (While lawmakers may still meet in informal sessions before December 31, it would take an unprecedented act by the legislature to approve the bill.) Hopefully, we've given the sponsor second thoughts about reintroducing the bill in 2003.
Had H.B. 3593 become law, hobbyists would have found it difficult to replace factory exhaust systems with better performing, more durable and stylish models. In addition, H.B. 3593 would not have provided Massachusetts police with a clear enforcement standard, allowing them to make purely subjective judgments about whether a custom exhaust is legal or not.
SEMA would like to highlight the efforts of Massachusetts SEMA Action Network clubs such as the Bearing Burners, Massachusetts Cruisers Auto Club, Ty-Rods, Massachusetts Association of Automobile Clubs, Spindles Auto Club of Weymouth, Dominators Car Club, Massachusetts Cruisers Club, and the Bay State Classic Chevy Club in opposing this legislation. Without their help, aftermarket and custom exhausts might have been completely banned from Massachusetts' roads.
California Enacts Nation's First 'Greenhouse' Emissions Law
In a blow to California auto enthusiasts, particularly those fond of light trucks and SUVs, California Governor Gray Davis signed into law a bill (A.B.1493) to regulate "greenhouse" gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor vehicles. While the new law eliminates some California vehicle owner concerns by preventing regulators from reducing speed limits, restricting vehicle size or imposing new taxes or fees in order to meet new GHG standards, in actuality it is little more than a back-door effort by environmentalists to set fuel-economy standards.
"CO2 is given off whenever gasoline is burned, therefore the only way to cut emissions is to make vehicles that burn less gasoline," said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. "Ultimately, this new law constitutes an illegal state effort to regulate fuel economy, a strict Federal government prerogative addressed through national Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards."
If left unchallenged, California's new GHG law could easily result in the downsizing or underpowering of popular performance cars, light trucks and SUVs despite consumer demand for better-performing, larger and more utilitarian vehicles. Further, this law could even potentially limit the sale and use of specialty automotive parts designed to increase vehicle horsepower and performance simply because they may increase GHG emissions.
"Even worse," noted SEMA Director of Public Affairs Brian Caudill, "absent a clear legal decision that this new law violates federal authority, other states may opt to follow California's misguided effort and begin setting their own unreasonable GHG emissions rules."
SEMA understands that the major automakers are filing suit to strike down this California law, and we fully support these efforts.
Feds May Look to Regulate HID, Auxiliary Lighting
According to published reports, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are developing plans to deal with increasing complaints on vehicle lighting related matters. Among the topics NHTSA is looking to address: perceived glare problems associated with high intensity discharge headlamps (HIDs)-often referred to as "blue-tinted" headlights-found on high-end sports and luxury cars; HID knock-off lighting that approximates the look of HID lighting, but violates Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; and concerns about higher-mounted headlamps and auxiliary lighting used on SUVs and pickups to improve foul weather and nighttime driving vision.  
Last year, NHTSA sought public comment on these lighting issues due to increasing complaints from glare-sensitive, older drivers. SEMA's comments to NHTSA noted that the specialty aftermarket remains dedicated to encouraging compliance with existing federal and state lighting standards. SEMA further argued that technological advances in lighting over the years-from halogen lighting and HID headlamps to auxiliary driving and fog lamps-has drastically improved driving vision and safety.
SEMA has supplied NHTSA with a comprehensive list of recommendations relative to safe and legal lighting equipment (see below) and pledges to work closely with NHTSA to make sure that any proposed new regulation remains fair to the custom lighting industry and consumers. NHTSA intends to propose the new rules my mid-2003.
SEMA's Lighting Recommendations
NHTSA Should...
  • Encourage cutting edge technology, such as HID lamps, that comply with federal standards while producing more light and an increased field of view.
  • Not further regulate front mounted lamps nor regulate optional lighting equipment without evidence that proves that these lamps are a significant safety hazard.
  • Encourage states to focus enforcement on correcting misaimed lamps.
  • Encourage local law enforcement to uphold current laws restricting conditions when fog lamp/auxiliary lamp use is allowed, if restrictions are based on proven safety concerns.
  • Draw a distinction between legal and illegal lighting, not OEM and aftermarket lighting, since many aftermarket products, such as fog lamps, are not prohibited by law.
  • Work with the lighting industry to develop a "street-enforceable" means to distinguish legal lamps from illegal lamps based on performance criteria, not design specifications.

Eagle One 'Golden Rule' Award For Car Clubs Enters 10th Year
Ten years of recognizing car clubs for outstanding community service programs will be celebrated by Eagle One with the presentation of the Golden Rule Award for achievements during the year 2002.
The marketer of premium appearance care products will award more than $5,000 worth of products for fundraising purposes to winning and runner-up clubs in the West, Midwest, East and South whose community service programs are judged the most outstanding in their region. In addition, a charity designated by each of the four winning clubs will receive a cash contribution of $250.
Winning clubs will also receive 20 buckets of Eagle One products, 10 cases of Valvoline Max-Life motor oil and a custom-designed plaque. Runner-up clubs will receive 10 buckets of Eagle One products, five cases of Max-Life motor oil and an award of merit. Last year, several SEMA Action Network clubs, notably Mustangs Northwest Club of Seattle, Washington, and the Villa Capri Cruisers of Scranton, Pennsylvania, won top honors for their region. Runner-up SAN clubs included the Wizards of Rods of Tomah, Wisconsin, and the Cumberland Valley Corvette Club of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
The Golden Rule Award program fosters a greater public awareness of car clubs and their community and charitable achievements. Entry forms for club participation in this year's contest will be available September 30. To download a printable form, visit www.eagleone.com or fax a request to 818/501-2690. Deadline for entries is December 13. Good luck!
Hey, That's My Car!
Driving Force Wants More of Your Pictures
Thanks to all who have sent in or e-mailed us photos. Efforts to replenish our photo library and continue publishing an informative, as well as visually appealing newsletter are going well...but we need more photos!
We need MORE restoration process pictures, MORE hot rod pictures, MORE junkyard pictures, MORE street rod pictures, MORE antique/classic pictures, MORE sport compact pictures and MORE lifted 4x4 pictures.
Continue sending us photos of your trail rides, restorations in progress, rod runs, car shows, charity events and drag races. Also, if it is okay with club members and webmasters, give us permission to reproduce the images on your websites.
Submit pictures to SEMA, 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765. You may also send high-resolution digital pictures by e-mail to jasonc@sema.org. While we regret that we cannot return any pictures to you, the next time we do a story focusing on your segment of the automobile hobby, we may use your ride as the example.
September SEMA Action Network Club Events
Sept. 22, San Diego
Fall Classic
Sponsor: Camaro Club of San Diego
Information: 858/748-2612
Sept. 7-8, Hailey
Hailey Rod Run and Cruise
Sponsor: The Big Guys
Information: 208/459-3046
Sept. 8th, St. Charles
32nd Annual Midwest Antique Car Show
Sponsor: Model T Ford Club, Int'l., Midwest Chapter
Information: 815/356-9918
Sept. 8th, Oak Brook
2002 Fierorama
Sponsor: Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts
Information: 630/983-6434
Sept. 14th, Carol Stream
Colony Retirement Home Car Show
Sponsor: Chicagoland Buick Club
Information: 630/665-6069
Sept. 20th, Carol Stream
Rolling Meadows Drive Night
Sponsor: Chicagoland Buick Club
Information: 312/316-5435
Sept. 13-15, Kalamazoo
23rd Annual Street Rod Nationals North
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
Information: 303/776-7841
Sept. 6-8, Alexandria
Fall Campout
Sponsor: Minnesota Street Rod Association
Information: 507/263-3100
Sept. 13-15, Rhinebeck
11th Annual East Coast Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876
Sept. 15th, McConnellsville
19th Annual Fall Festival Open Auto and Truck Show
Sponsor: Y-City Custom Car Association
Information: 740/454-0347
Sept. 7-8, Sandy
Sponsor: Oregon Council of Vehicle Associations
Information: 503/668-4096
Sept. 20-22, Burlington
9th Annual Northeast Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
Information: 724/932-3747