EPA Drops Controversial Racecar Rule, Threats Still Remain

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Back in June the EPA released a 600+ page rules proposal to reduce carbon emissions. Tucked inside was language about altering medium and heavy duty vehicles that sparked fears in many about not just converting street cars, but engines to race cars. 

In January members of SEMA met with EPA officials to get clarification on the new rules and how they would be enforced. After that meeting SEMA took the stance that the enforcement of the rules could pose a threat to people who convert street legal vehicles to race cars or trucks.

"(5) Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C. 7522(a)(3)."

The EPA has consistently said that and removal of emissions control devices from street cars has always been

prohibited but has not taken to enforce it for persons who convert cars to race only vehicles. The language in the new rules package sparked fears that the EPA’s stance might be changing. This worried aftermarket parts manufacturers that their business might be affected by the changes.

SEMA took action and sounded the alarm of what the EPA was doing. They started a petition drive to the EPA and drive to contact their elected officials to urge the EPA to drop the controversial rule proposal. Car enthusiasts heard the call and more than 170,000 signatures on the petition were gathered in three months.

In what is called a “Friday dump”, where information government or business wants to release without attention, the EPA announced the section in the proposal was removed. SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting released a statement after hearing the news.

"We want to thank Congress for pushing EPA to withdraw an ill-conceived proposal. However, confusion reigns: the agency continues to assert new-found authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate modification of vehicles for use in competition. This means that those converting and racing competition vehicles, and the parts and services industries that support them, do so under new EPA policy that considers the activity illegal. Only clarifying legislation, such as that offered under the RPM Act, will confirm that such activity is legal and beyond the reach of future EPA regulations. The racing industry and public need a long-term solution to eliminate any uncertainty regarding how the Clean Air Act is interpreted."

The RPM act is a piece of legislation that was developed with members of congress that would prevent the EPA from ever taking action against people who have long converted street cars for racing purposes. It is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives who are working for its passage.

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All of us are race fans, and the root of this rule puts not just grass roots racers at risk, but off road and GT racing at well. Our stars in this sport all started in stock cars that were converted from street vehicles or had engines from street vehicles. The people have spoken and the EPA listened. It is great in such polarizing times to see that the system works, our representatives heard us and action was taken.

Lets make sure that this cannot happen again by supporting SEMA with the RPM act. A simple click here and it will take you to SEMA’s page where you can have your voice heard and protect racing all over this great country of ours.