Open Menu
Open Menu

SEMA’s vice president of governmental affairs, Steve McDonald, dead at age 56

Published in

Steve McDonald speaks at a SEMA Town Hall meeting. Photo courtesy SEMA.

Steve McDonald’s name may not be familiar to everyone in the old car hobby, but his battles against overbearing governmental regulations are. A driving force behind such SEMA efforts as the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturer’s Act of 2015 and the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act of 2016, McDonald died unexpectedly on Tuesday, September 26, age 56.

After the EPA removed language from its revised greenhouse gas standards that specifically prohibited tampering with emissions equipment, even on vehicles “used solely for competition,” McDonald continued to lead SEMA’s efforts to pass the RPM Act. In his own words, “If you read the rationale behind removing that language, you’ll notice that the EPA doesn’t change their position. They still claim authority under the Clean Air Act for regulating parts destined for competition vehicles.” For now, both H.R. 350 (the House of Representatives bill) and S. 203 (the Senate bill) remain in subcommittee.

After studying at the Ecole Internationale de Geneve in Geneva, Switzerland, McDonald earned a degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. His resume included stints with the U.S. Department of State and a Washington D.C. law firm, where he first gained experience representing trade groups. Following employment as a government affairs consultant with the Redding Firm, McDonald joined SEMA roughly two decades ago.

There, he helped found the SEMA Action Network, which fosters communication between automotive enthusiasts and government representatives, and the State Automotive Leadership Caucus, consisting of 700-plus lawmakers who share a common love of vehicles. In addition to the RPM Act and the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturer’s Act, McDonald previously contributed to legislation regarding titling and registrations, exhaust noise restrictions, parked and inoperable vehicles, and ride height alterations.

McDonald is survived by three siblings and his fiancé, Manya Petropaki.