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Karen Bailey-Chapman Discusses Her Role at SEMA, Approach to Legislation and Industry Challenges on ‘The Racing Business’ Podcast

In the latest episode of “The Racing Business,” host Jason Dukes introduces an unconventional yet pivotal figure in the world of motorsports – Karen Bailey-Chapman, Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at SEMA. Her role, often overshadowed by the glitz of the racetrack, is instrumental in shaping the landscape of motorsports through government interaction.

Bailey-Chapman’s story is not that of a typical motorsport enthusiast. Growing up in an automotive town, her life was intrinsically linked to the industry from the beginning. “I grew up in a car town. I didn’t really think of it as anything other than that’s just the way life is,” Karen reflected on her early exposure to the automotive world. Her journey through political science and economics led her to SEMA, where her passion for motorsports and professional expertise in government affairs converge.

At SEMA, Bailey-Chapman leads an eight-person team focusing on legislative, regulatory, and policy matters that impact the racing industry. From environmental concerns to product regulations like California’s Prop 65, her team is at the forefront of advocacy for the motorsports world. “We’re a small team, but we’re mighty,” Karen stated, highlighting the significance of their work in a field often dominated by larger corporate interests.

Under Bailey-Chapman’s leadership, SEMA has adopted a more proactive stance in shaping legislation, especially regarding the future of internal combustion engines. She understands the need for the industry to not just react but also influence policy. “We’re probably about 50/50 being proactive about legislation versus reactive,” she stated, emphasizing the shift towards a forward-thinking approach in safeguarding the interests of the motorsports industry.

Bailey-Chapman’s path to SEMA serves as an inspiration for those looking to carve a niche in the motorsports industry. Her diverse experience across various sectors, coupled with her educational background, underscores the myriad ways one can contribute to this dynamic field. Bailey-Chapman’s journey is a testament to the power of merging passion with profession, proving that the road less traveled in motorsports can lead to impactful destinations.

Lastly, Karen Bailey-Chapman hopes her story inspires aspiring professionals, sharing that the race track and the legislative chamber can, indeed, share common ground.

This story was originally published on December 4, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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