One of my recent editorials was titled “Land of the Free, Home of the V-8” (May, ’16).
The idea behind it was to remind us that we have the right to modify our cars whenever and however we want—as long as we stay within the guidelines and laws adopted by each city and state across this great country. The rules differ significantly depending on what part of America you happen to live. For example, certain car modifications that are legal in Ohio or Arizona might not be in New York or California; actually there’s a really good chance it’s not allowed in California—not much is. Whatever the case, most of us hot rodders deal with it and do our best to stay within the legal boundaries.
Now, as of this writing, the good ol’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule with wording that would make it against the law to convert any type of emissions-certified vehicle into a race car. Needless to say, this would put the racing and motorsports industry in jeopardy. Not good for us.
So, how does this affect you?
Let’s say you are finally getting around to upgrading your Camaro, new or old, by dropping in that 1,000hp supercharged “LS whatever” you’ve been working on for the past 12 months with the intention of taking it off the streets and making it a full-on drag car. Well, as of now it looks like the EPA wants to stifle your plans in having a bunch of straight-line fun. And keep in mind the Clean Air Act prohibits the EPA from regulating race cars, but not being entirely within the vision of the government’s watchful eye, they sometimes attempt to sneak through nonsensical propositions by using “creative” language with unclear intentions. So why would they even want to mess with a race car that gets driven a quarter-mile at a time or one that sees a road course for a few hundred miles a year? No one is entirely sure, but that’s what we’d like to find out.
And no doubt our performance-enhanced cars are likely a hundred times less of a contributor to poor air quality than that 25-year-old Nissan spewing out massive clouds of blue smoke from stoplight to stoplight. I’ve always wondered how those cars get away with being able to stay on the road. The owners must “know a guy.”
So, what’s being done?
Thankfully, SEMA is urging Congress to adopt a measure that would eliminate any uncertainty now and in the future about how the Clean Air Act is interpreted and make it clear that the law allows emissions-certified street vehicles to be modified and converted for competition use.
The bipartisan “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016” (RPM Act) clarifies the Clean Air Act to explain that it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a race car and that modifying these cars for exclusive track use would not be considered tampering. This bill was introduced to the House (H.R. 4715) and the Senate (S. 2659) earlier this year.
What can you do?
You can get your voice heard and make a difference by going to sema.org/rpm-bill-summary and tell Congress to take action.
Don’t sit this one out. Here’s your chance to make a difference in our hobby/sport.