Sema and the rpm act

Back in 2017, I received a phone call from Courtney Hansen on behalf of SEMA. Courtney has been one of my favorite automotive TV show hosts and spokespersons so right away, this was a cool situation. Courtney’s request was to find a track-prepped and trailered car to help provide an example for members of Congress and the Senate in Washington D.C. The purpose was to educate those in D.C. about such vehicles and how they relate to the RPM Act. It was a somewhat urgent request since the SEMA rally was in less than a week.

From SEMA: The “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act” clarifies that it is legal under federal law to modify the emissions system of a motor vehicle that is converted for race-use-only. If passed, the legislation will protect Americans’ right to modify street vehicles into dedicated racecars and industry’s right to sell the parts that enable racers to compete. Learn more at SEMA: RPM Bill Summary.

When the term “track-prepped” was heard and there was need to bring a track-prepped machine to D.C., there was one call to make and it was to Mike Levitas at TPC Racing in Jessup, Maryland. Mike was all-in. On the day of the event, a tracked Porsche was loaded onto the trailer and the trek to D.C. was underway. Was it easy to bring a massive trailer to D.C. and block 4 lanes of traffic heading out of Congress to unload a Porsche? No. It was worth it. The rights of club racers and the rights of the industry that sells parts to keep their racecars on the track were upheld. Praise to SEMA, Mike Levitas of TPC Racing and all of the members of Congress and the Senate that sided for our rights.

Steve McDonald, the SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs, asked what we wanted for payment for the quick response, vehicle transport and time spent in government meetings. Our answer was “Nothing”. We were there to support SEMA and our friends that take to the track. Mike has been attending SEMA for years as a vendor so Steve McDonald took immediate action and set me up with a VIP pass at SEMA. It’s fair to say that I was blown away. As a guy that had never been to SEMA, this would be an amazing way to experience it. Some of the experiences are captured below. Not long afterwards, the world lost Steve McDonald. Steve gave over 20 years of his life to SEMA. In the short time that I knew him, he made a grand impact. He was 56. The world is a better place because of Steve McDonald and his impact lives today.

Here’s the collage that was posted to Instagram to mark the occasion. First, there was a visit to TPC Racing in Jessup, Maryland to meet up with owner and highly-decorated race car driver Mike Levitas. I nearly had to drag Mike away from a project to ensure a reasonable time of arrival at the opening SEMA dinner in Washington D.C. Photos: [clockwise from upper-left] (1) Mike unloads the track car at the event hotel, a few blocks from Congress; (2) One of TPC Racing’s Porsche GT3 Cup cars being prepped for a future race; (3) The track car finds its resting area in front of the hotel prior to review by the politicians.

Some of the great folks from SEMA 2017…

May you rest in peace, Jessi Combs.