What do racers want?

I reached out to my Facebook family last week, looking to see what was on their mind and what concerned them about our industry. Not surprisingly, I got some great feedback and suggestions. Listed here are your thoughts as well as my comments.

Racers, what are your concerns about the high performance industry?

Tony Whatley: One of the most annoying things we hear about is sound ordinances that they enforce on race tracks (drag and road course), when these tracks existed before they decided to build homes around them.

Dr. Jamie: This is going to continue to be an issue as people encroach on the land that was once “out in the boonies”. SEMA could help support new track builds with the correct zoning categories to protect for motorsports. Existing tracks need legal help to continue to operate as they have for years.

Larry Fulton: Totally disgusted with the continued EPA mandated use of Ethanol (in any percentage) in our on the road fuels. You want to run this shit your race car, Fine… In your daily driver, it should be eliminated. SEMA needs to do more to make this happen.

Dr. Jamie: Understanding the current relationship that SEMA has with the EPA will be a priority once I’m on the board. We need to first work better with the EPA, but we need to continue to push for more support for this industry.

Patrick Budd: Jamie, keeping the pulse of the frontline enthusiast and communicating their needs effectively to the industry leaders that can protect and aid growth is always a noble pursuit

Dr. Jamie: Thanks, Patrick. I will always be open to members of this industry. I will always lean on my network to help find answers. I will always work hard to represent this family that is the high performance industry.

Paul Wiley: Grass roots racing, we all started somewhere.

Dr. Jamie: And, we need to work together to support, grow, and protect grass roots racing. We can’t all be professional racers, but we sure can act like it on the weekend. Let’s set up the next generation of racers with a rich experience on tracks all over this great country.

Todd Brandon: E85 at every station?

Dr. Jamie: E85 is only the start of alternative fuels that this industry is facing. I will work to make sure that SEMA is ready to address changes in electric and fuel cell technology. There is performance there, but we must get the industry ready to adopt it.

Bob Daykin: Keep it affordable, relatable and real. Giving the manufacturers too much power to write rules in their own favor and the media consultants too much budget for hairspray is taking the authenticity and innovation out of the sport at all levels. It is losing its emotional horsepower to draw participants and fans.

Dr. Jamie: SEMA’s ownership of PRI puts them in position to help promote the excitement, technology, and legacy of motorsports. We need to work together – sanctioning body, racers, media, fans – to make racing better than ever.

Jim Briante: Collaboration between sanctioning bodies and track owners on classes and rules to ensure racers have options both locally and with traveling series’ to keep costs down and realize the most utility out of their racing operations and to assist race organizers with keeping car counts healthy.

Patrick Budd: …and get new cars built, parts get sold, tuners paid, track operators make updates. Nirvana. Perhaps the regionalization of facilities will help with standardizing rules. Few truly local market tracks can survive much longer.

Dr. Jamie: The high performance industry is under great pressure from other industries. We must work together to showcase motorsports and how much fun families can have with car-centric activities. Get racers and, more importantly, fans re-engaged with motorsports is a top priority.

Dave Buck Shaw: RPM act.

Dr. Jamie: So few people in our industry realize that racecars are under risk of heavy regulation. SEMA must identify these challenges, work with the regulators, and aggressively remove threats to our freedom to do “car stuff”.

Chip Johnson: Need Continued Support from Great Companies like GM. It’s a Trickle down effect that everyone benefits from. Manufactures support the sanctioning body, tracks, and racers.  In return, we all race more and buy more stuff to race with.

Dr. Jamie:: Right on, Chip. This industry came from racing, from young men (mostly) competing in all forms of motorsports. We must cherish this largely American tradition and work to grow our motorsports. Everyone in the industry will benefit, as you point out.

Matt Walter: Less hassle from DOT man for racers with enclosed trailers.

Dr. Jamie: Well, we need to make sure we are following the rules. Better training. Better awareness. Let’s do things right, so the DOT has no reason to suspect racers are doing something wrong.

Tony Foti: Jaime, please continue to provide the high horsepower crate motors, and we like your support of the many racing/TV shows that build muscle cars to keep Chevy on Top!

Dr. Jamie: That’s what I try to do every day, my friend.

Bobby Kimbrough: Giving back to the grassroots with training. We gotta stop eating each other. Tracks killing racers at the back gate, racers bad mouthing tracks and promoters, series and tracks scheduling regional events on top of each other…. and on and on. We really need the industry to help the local tracks that we still have left, fill those seats with fans. Put motorsports back on top. We can get there by helping get a three-tiered training system in place, starting with getting auto shop back in high schools.

Dr. Jamie: I know that Bobby has been to a few races in his time. With much respect, I like the vision of racers, tracks, and sanctioning bodies coming together. Perhaps, regional SEMA members working to help promote events, work on standardized rules, and increase the marketing reach for the promoters.

Berry Lowman: How about SEMA safety training courses and demos for grassroots racers and show car builders on proper trailer and towing basics? Things like how to properly load, balance, tie-down, connect to, maintain, and pull trailers. Hitch types and installations included. We see so many folks who don’t know what they are doing in this area putting themselves and everyone around them at risk simply because they actually don’t know anything about it. A little training would likely help prevent a lot of mishaps, and would go a long way towards keeping people safe when traveling to and from events.

Dr. Jamie: Great idea, Berry. I really like the safety training aspect of these ideas. It will benefit all involved – no matter what form of racing the racer is into. Thanks for your thoughts.

Jesse Kershaw: Racers are always breaking parts and supply is limited at the track. Overnight shipping can be astronomical. What about a SEMA negotiated overnight discount for SEMA member retailers to SEMA member tracks?   Second thought, government grant money for SEMA garage emissions testing of aftermarket components and calibrations. The tactic is always the stick with threats of fines, maybe offer an alternative that's the carrot for companies to get “clean”.

Dr. Jamie: Jesse, one of my first actions will be to look at ways to dramatically expand the SEMA membership. We need an individual membership level at SEMA that would allow us to offer the types of discounts you are calling for. As importantly, I want millions of SEMA members so that when we ask the SEMA membership to vote a certain way (for a certain candidate in a critical region) that we have true voting power. The regulations that you speak of are an attack on our freedoms. They must be met with the full attention of the automotive aftermarket industry.

Greg Hurlbutt: A stronger initiative for manufacturers to hold their upstanding dealers to proper pricing structures… and stop the growing landslide issue of people chopping each others legs off in the industry. Stop “the race to the bottom” per say

Dr. Jamie: Greg, I’m going to reach out to the speed shops on my FB page this week. I’m expecting a lot of comments about MAP pricing and the pricing war that you folks are engaged in. I get it.

Harry Hruska: Speaking of tariffs I believe that the bombardment of copycat imports that displace the pioneers of our sport with products that come into our country with no tariffs when their countries are protected with 100% tax tariffs such as Brazil ! This a tragic situation ….

Dr. Jamie: I know that SEMA has been and continues to be engaged in fighting fake parts from foreign markets. I’ll work with you to come up with creative ways to head this off. But, yes, we must protect that members of this community who offer up creative products for our customers.

David Carroll: Push hard to allow the SMOG Exempt cut off to be lifted to 1980 or newer. Possible to stay within the 25 year cut off as originally intended mainly in the state of California and any other states that have this issue.

Dr. Jamie: This is a great idea. I was thinking about the EROD engine program and how it helps folks with cars up to the OBD-II cutoff. So, it allows for 1975 to 2006 vehicles to get emission compliant engines dropped in. Moving these years up would allow for more manufacturers to serve these customers.

David Carroll: Set up interactive shows for the next generation of car enthusiast like my 5 year old son to be apart of. Encourage current hot rodders, muscle car, european and other non domestic car shows to include children at the fullest. Goodguys had a great idea at Del Mar by having a children’s corner dedicated to them having fun indoors, out of the heat and interacting with a local boy scout club that helped them color, bounce house and other interactive car fun games.

Dr. Jamie: We have got to get more kids into cars. I started telling folks about my nephews not being heavily into cars (they are jocks), and almost everyone I spoke to told me the same story. We just are not doing a good job of getting kids into racing or into car shows or into moments that will shape their love for cars. As a community, I will work with SEMA to make sure we are doing all that we can to make our next generation of hot-rodders a priority.

Damon Steinke: I would love to see SEMA work with the federal government on some bills that are specifically designed at the motorsports industry. Protections from government over reach on modified cars, DOT regulations, etc. The fact is that an overreaching and overbearing government is what has greatly diminished the motorsports industry in that aspect.  Not every state wants to be like California, and why does the industry have to follow what one state demands?

Dr. Jamie: Your freedom to enjoy modifying cars and racing them is under attack. Some of the overreach that is being proposed by rule makers cannot be allowed to proceed without serious engagement. SEMA is in the fight, but I will be pushing for more money, more people, more lobbyists, and more aggression. This will take funding, but we can pull together an protect our interests. We have to protect this lifestyle.