LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
West Virginia Legislators Turn Out to Greet Hot Rod Power Tour
Many lawmakers are big fans of collector cars, vehicle exhibitions and auto racing.
One of the biggest is West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell. As a SEMA member and owner of Howell Automotive in Keyser, West Virginia, Howell has consistently demonstrated his desire to keep the laws in his state hobby-friendly while representing his constituents in the state legislature. 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.
In recognition of his dedication, Howell was named national chairman of the SEMA-supported State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus last year.
This legislative caucus has a bipartisan membership that recognizes that the American automotive specialty and performance industry is an important economic engine, providing jobs for more than a million Americans and quality products for a global marketplace. The group, now comprised of approximately 650 legislators from all 50 states, is a critical component in raising the industry’s profile in state capitols and in the public’s eyes. Many of these lawmakers have sought to preserve and expand the hobby by improving existing motor-vehicle statutes and regulations.
“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.”
This past June, Howell joined several of his colleagues in the West Virginia legislature at a reception held in their honor during the Charleston stop of the 2014 Hot Rod Power Tour.
In fact, Howell and fellow West Virginia Delegate Eric Householder travelled along with other “long haulers” on most of the 1,500-mile trip through seven states.
His Jeep joined all makes and models of hot rods, street rods, custom trucks and street machines, kicking off at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina and traveling to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Howell’s ’99 Jeep Cherokee is outfitted with a 4.5-in. Skyjacker suspension lift, Ares Fabrication evolution bumpers and a safari rack. The engine is a 4.6L stroker built by Howell Automotive with JE Pistons and a Jet Performance tuning module.
For more information about the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, visit www.semasan.com.
Photos Courtesy WV Legislative Photography Photos by Perry Bennett