The EPA wants to make it illegal to make some of the integral modifications to convert a street car into a race car. I know that sounds like an alarmist statement to make but it is not hyperbole.
Generally speaking, I have a rule to avoid politics on this site, except when those politics have an effect on motorsports or car culture at large. This issue qualifies in a big way.
What the EPA is trying to do?
Recently the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has changed the language on their legislation on the legal ramifications of modifying a vehicle’s emissions control components.
In this new language, it effectively states that any “emissions” modification to a vehicle that originally manufactured for public road use would be prohibited. Even if that vehicle would never be used on public roads after the modifications are made.
Not only would modification be illegal but even the manufacture and sale of parts meant to bypass, circumvent, or otherwise change emissions measures would be illegal.
That effectively targets thousands of aftermarket businesses that make such performance parts. It would destroy the aftermarket and severely hurt motorsports which are based on production road cars; like Formula Drift for example.
As it stands now, an exhaust company, or a company that makes stand-alone ECUs would just have to provide a disclaimer that their parts are “not for use on public roads”.
The EPA argues that the disclaimer is not enough and there are enough people ignoring it that it is causing significant air pollution. However, the EPA has yet to share any kind of quantifiable metrics that demonstrate how they came to that conclusion.
Overall, it is a pretty complicated political dance that the EPA is performing here and if I’m being honest I don’t think I could explain the nuances of it well enough to do this issue justice.
Luckily, MotorTrend did an excellent piece on this back in 2016 (that’s how long the EPA has been at this) which explains everything in great detail and reads between the lines of what the EPA is really saying.
I highly recommend you read it.
What can be done?
Alright, so by now you know what the problem is but you might be wondering what you can actually do about it. Well, SEMA is putting together an effort to counter the EPA’s language with a solution that protects modifying cars for motorsports use while keeping in tact the EPA’s effort to combat air pollution.
It’s called the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” or the “RPM Act” for short.
As SEMA describes it the RPM Act is:
“Common-sense, bi-partisan legislation to protect Americans’ right to convert street vehicles (cars, trucks and motorcycles) into dedicated racecars and the motorsports-parts industry’s ability to sell products that enable racers to compete. The bill clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of converting it into a racecar used exclusively in competition. It also confirms that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment.”
I’ve sent my letter in and I would implore you to do the same and help save the aftermarket and motorsports from what is currently heavy handed legislation by the EPA.
If you ever wanted to buy a 240SX and build it into a track only drift car, or purchase a MX-5 and convert it to a cup car then please support the RPM Act!
I genuinely would like to hear your thoughts about this issue so feel free to leave your opinions in the comments below or tweet them to me at @MotorworldHype.