EPA crackdown on race cars


By Paul Hinkle

You need to ask the question, will the Environmental Protection Agency proposal hinder your plans to turn your daily driver into a mean track-only machine? According to SEMA, the aftermarket trade association it will.

The EPA pending rule is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “prohibit conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into racecars” and “make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal.” This could affect your ability to participate in grassroots racing like drag racing, LeMons, AER, Spec E30, and other series.

Last year the 629-page document was released to the public. Steve McDonald, SEMA’s vice president for government affairs, said this provision was buried in an “unrelated” set of rules about greenhouse gas emissions for medium and heavy duty vehicles. That is why it took months for it to become public.

EPA has stated that they are only proposing to clarify the language and make it clear that an exemption for turning nonroad vehicles (and engines) into competitive vehicles does not apply to your streetcar, even if it’s a track-only car. McDonald said that for decades, the Clean Air Act was understood not to apply to competition vehicles. The EPA now says that has never been the case.

The EPA confirmed this in their statement to the public: People may use EPA-certified motor vehicles for competition, but to protect public health from air pollution, the Clean Air Act has since it’s inception specifically prohibited tampering with or defeating the emission control system on those vehicles. This clarification does not affect EPA’s enforcement authority. It is still illegal to tamper with or defeat the emission control system of motor vehicles.

On Jan. 20, McDonald met with the EPA to confirm if it was their intent to prohibit the conversion of certified vehicles into racecars. “They confirmed that,” he said. One section of the document says the EPA “may asses a civil penalty up to $37,500 for each engine or piece of equipment in violation.” EPA says they are more concerned about these cars being used on public roads and after market manufactures. The EPA could issue a final rule by July. It will then become law without Congressional approval required.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives have introduced “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016” (RPM Act), a bill to reinforce that it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a racecar used exclusively at the track. The U.S Senate introduced its version, S.2659, which is a companion bill to H.R.4715. You need to take action and contact your House member and our two Senators to support the RPM Act.

April 1– Rods on the Bluff
April 2– 10th Annual Clovis Assembly of God Car Show
April 9– Tower Classic Car Show
April 16– Kingsburg Downtown Car Show
April 17– Old Town Clovis Car Show
April 22–24 Western Street Rod Nationals Bakersfield
April 30– Central Valley Classic Car Show
Pan Draggers Classic Car Show

If your club or organization is putting on a car show or motorsports event we are always looking for interesting cars, people and events to share. You can reach Paul Hinkle at clovisparkinthepark@gmail.com or call (559) 970-2274 or Eric Hinkle at ehinkle11@gmail.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter@clovisparknpark and on Instagram@clovisparkinthepark.
For more information on upcoming events, past events and articles, go to www.clovisparkinthepark.com.