Stay informed. Keep up-to-date on SEMA Action Network Action Alerts, newspaper articles, and hearing notices. Share this information with fellow enthusiasts. (The sooner, the better!)

Get involved in the community. Join with other community groups to build positive exposure. Holding charity runs and fundraisers provides a great opportunity to show local residents and politicians that auto clubs are a positive community force.

Build relationships with the local media. Contact local newspapers and radio/TV stations to publicize car shows, charity events, and so on. Radio and TV news organizations are always looking for stories to prepare ahead of time for their weekend broadcasts.

Invite officials to participate in your events. Give legislators a platform to reach an audience of constituents.

Build an automotive coalition. Create coalitions to add strength in numbers and ensure that the rights of all vehicle enthusiasts are represented. Actively participating in regional and statewide councils will develop a unified message to lawmakers. These types of pro-hobbyist groups can be an influential political force.

Spread the word. Take this article to your next club meeting or cruise night, or post it on your online forum. Share this information with other enthusiasts who are willing to help lobby for the hobby.

Register to vote. Exercise your right to support pro-hobby candidates. Constituents are an elected official's number-one priority. Without you and your vote of support, they would not be in office, so make sure you're registered, then get out and vote.

One organization of hobbyists that has enjoyed a lot of success at the state level is the Minnesota Street Rod Association (MSRA). The MSRA's Legislative Committee is made up of dedicated club members who keep an eye out for pending legislation that affects car hobbyists, whether good or bad. They it spreads the word through the club's website (www.msra.com), and its monthly magazine, the LineChaser. It also put together a "Run to the Hill" day in the early spring-before final House and Senate committee deadlines-when MSRA members go to the State Capitol in St. Paul to lobby their state representatives and senators in person regarding pending legislating that affects them. As a part of the Run, there's special parking made available in front of the Capitol for photo ops with some MSRA members' cars.

This writer was a member of MSRA during the mid-'90s, at a time when the state of Minnesota was trying to force all gas stations statewide to carry only ethanol-blended gasolines (at the behest of the agriculture industry and at least one huge, out-of-state conglomerate). MSRA members, through the Legislative Committee, were able to lobby the Minnesota Legislature successfully, and the ethanol mandate was amended to allow for stations to carry one storage tank filled with non-ethanol-blended premium. (A list of those stations in Minnesota is available on the MSRA website; look for "non-oxygenated fuels.")

Conclusion: We Can Shape the Future
If we sit around and do nothing, we shouldn't be surprised if the Corvette-and the rest of the auto industry-witnesses a return to the dark days of the '70s, when engine output plunged and high-performance vehicles virtually vanished from the landscape. But if automotive enthusiasts come together and present a unified front, then the tide of anti-car-enthusiast legislation can be stopped in its tracks, and bills favoring Corvette and other special-interest vehicles will ensure that the hobby flourishes for years to come.

Take the first step by joining the SEMA Action Network (SAN). With no costs to get involved, the SAN is a partnership between enthusiasts, vehicle clubs, and members of the specialty automotive parts industry in the United States and Canada who have joined forces to promote hobby-friendly legislation and oppose unfair laws. With nearly 40,000 members, 3 million contacts, and an ability to reach 30 million enthusiasts through print and press, the SAN is the premier organization defending the rights of the vehicle hobbyist. Enlist now in this fellowship of auto enthusiasts-join the SAN at www.semasan.com.