WASHINGTON — More than 110 representatives from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) came to Washington May 16 to participate in SEMA's 2018 Washington Rally, according to the association.
Meeting with elected officials and their staff on Capitol Hill, the SEMA representatives stressed the cultural and economic importance of the automotive specialty equipment industry and motorsports, SEMA said.
This is the 15th consecutive SEMA Rally Day and one of the largest in the event's history, according to the association.
SEMA Rally Day saw significant participation by the tire industry, especially through its Wheel and Tire Council, said Stuart Gosswein, SEMA senior director for federal government affairs.
"We've got tires being sold for performance cars, older replica cars and racing events at the Bonneville Salt Flats," Mr. Gosswein said, referring to the massive salt lake beds in Utah where land-speed record attempts are carried out. "We have huge participation from the tire industry."
Among the dignitaries from the tire industry who participated in Rally Day are SEMA Board Chairman Wade Kawasaki, also chairman and chief operating officer of the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Coker Group; Marla Moore, also of the Coker Group; and Roy Littlefield IV of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), according to Mr. Gosswein.
Mr. Kawasaki thanked the SEMA members who participated in the event. He particularly noted the association's No. 1 legislative goal — passage of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which would confirm the legality of converting street vehicles into racing cars, forestalling any possible challenges under the Clean Air Act.
"This year's turnout makes one thing certain — our industry is committed to getting the RPM Act across the finish line in 2018," Mr. Kawasaki said.
Currently the RPM Act has 145 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 38 in the Senate, according to SEMA.
Among other issues SEMA representatives discussed with legislators and Capitol Hill staffers were:
- Tariffs, which SEMA opposes because they don't address issues such as Chinese metal overproduction and intellectual property theft.
- The Bonneville (Utah) Salt Flats, which SEMA is seeking to restore through an appropriation from the Bureau of Land Management.
- E15 ethanol, which SEMA seeks to ban because it is incompatible with older vehicles.
- The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which was passed in December 2015 to allow small vehicle manufacturers to sell completed replica cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to issue a regulation allowing the sale of replica cars next year, but SEMA wants legislators to contact NHTSA to request an immediate waiver to allow replica car production now.