KNOW YOUR ADVOCATES
For years it’s been said that members of Congress are less popular than traffic jams. Know what else ranks higher than your public servants in DC, according to published reports? Root canals. And cockroaches.
But getting hung up on whether we’d prefer politicians over oral surgery isn’t really the point here.
What is worth noting is that while many lawmakers can be hard to stomach at times, a number of them actually think and talk—and more importantly, act—in a way that benefits folks like you and me. Which is to say that not all members of Congress are created equal; same goes for those at the state and local levels.
So while it may be easy to dismiss this group outright, or paint them all in broad, mostly negative strokes, the fact is that a handful do understand and support the issues that matter most to our industry.
Take state Senator Mark Maynard, Republican from West Virginia, who in 2018 started a campaign to bring both drift and rally events to his state’s roadways. Two years earlier, Maynard, a former crew member on Jim Head’s NHRA Nitro Funny Car team (2006–2010), had sponsored a bill that allowed local governments to sanction road racing on public streets and thoroughfares. His legislation passed, and since then Maynard has remained a champion of all things high-performance. So much so, in fact, that two years ago he was named the first-ever winner of SEMA’s prestigious Stephen B. McDonald Legislator of the Year award, named in honor of the association’s late VP of Government Affairs, himself a tireless industry advocate.
On the federal side, you’ve got people like Florida Rep. Bill Posey. The longtime GOP congressman actually grew up racing midgets in and around the Los Angeles area before moving to the Sunshine State. As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, Posey also has been a powerful proponent of the RPM Act, a SEMA-backed bill clarifying that it is legal to modify and convert production cars, trucks, and motorcycles into dedicated race vehicles.
And yes, this industry has allies on both sides of the aisle. Democrats that are considered strong supporters of motorsports businesses and organizations include: New York Rep. Anthony Brindisi, whose upstate district is home to Afton Motorsports Park, Five Mile Point Speedway, and the famed Utica-Rome Speedway; Rep. Raul Ruiz of California, another former pit crew member (for his dad’s Southern California midget team) and his party’s lead sponsor on the RPM Act; and Rep. Kurt Schrader, whose home state of Oregon is the birthplace of the annual Gambler 500, an off-road rally and cleanup adventure designed to test the limits of cheap or outlandish vehicles. Think 24 Hours of Lemons on a three-day poker run. Also a member of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, Schrader speaks fondly of his 2014 midnight-blue Shelby Cobra with aftermarket tires and under-the-hood modifications.
For more information about who’s fighting on the industry’s behalf, I invite you to read our exclusive election report beginning on page 34. Authored by Eric Snyder of the PRI/SEMA legislative affairs team in DC, it provides a helpful guide on what’s at stake in November, as well as several lawmakers who should be considered key allies at a time when motorsports professionals could no doubt use all the friends we can get.