Without trying to sound like that great uncle of yours who pretends he’s getting paid to forward every conspiracy-laden email he receives to everyone he’s ever met, it seems like government is cracking down on this whole “car enthusiasm” thing more and more every year. Safety and emissions regulations have swollen out performance upgrades. Speed limits remain at their archaic lows. And government at every level is finding new and creative ways to tax cars into submission. Missouri, for example, charges sales tax for private party used sales and yearly property taxes for simply owning your car. But back in 2009, two gearheads, who happen to be members of the United States Senate, proved that not all lawmakers want to put us on bicycles. They created Collector Car Appreciation Day, and it’s going down this Friday.
Okay, so Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, isn’t necessarily a gearhead. I couldn’t find any evidence of his owning a classic Barracuda or GTO. But he did fight increased government tracking of license plates and the automotive black box. So he’s more than welcome at our meets.
Senator Richard Burr, however, a Republican from North Carolina, daily drives his 1974 Volkswagen Thing to Capitol Hill. He’s had it for 22 years. And he introduced an amendment last year that might make it more accessible to drive on North Carolina’s beaches. Neat!
Back in 2009, these guys teamed up across the aisle to propose Senate Resolution 513.ATS, that a National Collector Car Appreciation Day be recognized each July. And it passed! Yes, friends, this is our day. It’s a day when car culture can be celebrated rather than maligned. Because even the government said so, hippies.
Why did they do it? Well, because they’re gearheads, probably. So you’re really asking, how did they convince everyone else to go for it? They put their gearheadedness in more definite terms. Here’s my translation of the bill text:
“Whereas many people in the United States maintain classic automobiles as a pastime and do so with great passion and as a means of individual expression”
Some people just like working on cars. They like it so much that they customize their cars in their own voices, making car customization kindof sortof a form of free speech. This is cool because free speech is theoretically protected by the Constitution.
“Whereas the Senate recognizes the effect that the more than 100-year history of the automobile has had on the economic progress of the Nation and supports wholeheartedly all activities involved in the restoration and exhibition of classic automobiles”
We built this city on rock and roll. And Detroit iron.
“Whereas collection, restoration, and preservation of automobiles is an activity shared across generations and across all segments of society”
If we all love cars, we’ll have a better chance of getting along and we’ll stop trying to find creative ways to shank each other. I mean, look at Team Innovations (NSFW-language). That’s one diverse group, and there are zero regular stabbings.
“Whereas thousands of local car clubs and related businesses have been instrumental in preserving a historic part of the heritage of this Nation by encouraging the restoration and exhibition of such vintage works of art”
Art! The United States Senate calls cars art! For once I agree with them.
“Whereas automotive restoration provides well-paying, high-skilled jobs for people in all 50 States”
Body shops pay taxes, too!
“Whereas automobiles have provided the inspiration for music, photography, cinema, fashion, and other artistic pursuits that have become part of the popular culture of the United States”
Doc and Marty almost traveled through time in a phone booth, guys. A phone booth.
And then they go on to say what they’re going to do, which is a date designation and general “encouragement” to participate in car events on CCAD, because there doesn’t seem to be any budget attached to it.
But I’m okay with that. If the government funded our car shows they would only feature Chevy Aveos and every K-Car that ever featured wood paneling. No, it’s our responsibility to take our little nieces and nephews to car shows.
If there’s no money, you ask, why isn’t the CCAD just political lip service? Because it’s an official recognition from Washington that the car is not the enemy. That it has done much more for this country than it’s done against it. That shoegazing, phone-glued youths should be taught about the virtues of the car rather than its perils.
Thank you, Senators Tester and Burr, for being gearheads. And by that we mean for supporting culture, history, free speech, artistic expression, and the American economy. And straight pipes.
What should you do on CCAD? Let Courtney Hansen, TV person with a dreamy voice and daughter of a guy who won 27 SCCA championships, explain.
Cruise your beast! Take it to a car show. Or if you don’t have a beast (yet), just attent a car show. The bosses at SEMA have put together a list of car shows going on this Friday all over America. Bring your kith and kin and show them what they look like reflected in a real chrome bumper.
Then tell us about it! We want to see what you see at America’s car shows this weekend. Post pictures on our Facebook wall, Google+ profile, and Twitter account, and tag @StreetsideAuto in your Instagrams!
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.