West Virginia Lawmaker Assumes Leadership Post of State Auto Caucus

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell has been named vice chairman of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. The Caucus is supported by SEMA and chaired by New York Assemblyman Bill Reilich.    

The Caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers whose common thread is a love for automobiles. To date, almost 600 state legislators from all 50 states have joined the group. The Caucus serves to raise the motor-vehicle hobby’s profile in state legislatures across the country and in the eyes of the public. Many of these lawmakers have sought to preserve and expand the hobby by improving existing motor-vehicle statutes and regulations.

As a SEMA member and owner of Howell Automotive in Keyser, West Virginia, Howell immediately demonstrated his desire to get involved in keeping the laws in his state hobby-friendly when he joined the Caucus in 2011 upon his election to the West Virginia House of Delegates. He has worked extensively in the motorsports industry, raced both stock cars and drag cars, built winning race cars and award-winning show cars and designed racing parts. He has also hosted a syndicated radio show, written automotive magazine articles and served as a technical expert on automotive TV shows.

“I have been a strong advocate of SEMA-model legislation that helps car enthusiasts enjoy their hobby in a safe and responsible manner,” Howell said. “I have worked to remove the tax burden on low-income car collectors, sponsored a bill to implement an objective exhaust noise testing program and crusaded against increased ethanol blends in gasoline. I’m currently working on a car collector tag that can be transferred between vehicles, like a dealer plate. The plate could be used by collectors on recently purchased vehicles or those in the process of restoration.”     

Howell sits on the West Virginia House of Delegates' Roads and Transportation Committee in order to further help protect the rights of motor-vehicle enthusiasts. In addition, his current advocacy efforts are sensitive to the needs of small businesses—the catalyst for the United States economic engine.
“When I read legislation, I try to examine it through the eyes of people like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay and Smokey Yunick,” Howell added. “Smokey Yunick would have made a great legislator. His ‘You read the rules for what they don't say, not for what they do,’ philosophy is one I’ve adopted. Many of the problems we experience are derived from the unintended consequences. Heeding Smokey's words helps me identify those consequences.”  

Despite his busy legislative schedule, Howell still finds time to fit in personal "car stuff" and enjoys driving his Dodge SRT-4, which won Car and Driver's 2005 SuperFour Challenge in the front-wheel-drive class. His dream car is a black ’71 GTX, 426 Hemi four-speed.

“I welcome this chance to serve as vice chairman of the Caucus in partnership with Assemblyman Reilich,” Howell concluded. “Together, the Caucus will continue to ensure the voices of auto enthusiasts are heard nationwide.”

For details, contact Steve McDonald at