Showdown Over EPA Racecar Regulations Begins in Congress

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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showdown over epa racecar regulations begins in congress

Is it curtains for modified street cars on the racetrack, or will a compromise save the day?

The first meeting of a congressional committee tasked with deciding the fate of drivers who race modified street vehicles took place on March 15, and a glimmer of hope emerged, according to Jalopnik.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan bill — Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 — was introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate in a bid to make converted race vehicles exempt from proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Though racecars are already exempt under the Clean Air Act, the EPA had published draft legislation calling for environmental laws to be applied to the aftermarket products used to turn a regular vehicle into a track-only racer. The EPA sees the modifications as “tampering” with regulated on-road vehicles.

After the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) found out about the proposal and raised a big stink, a group of four congressmen crafted the bill at the center of yesterday’s meeting of the Oversight Committee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The meeting, which included participation by SEMA President and CEO Christopher Kersting, saw three experts discuss the impact the proposed EPA regulations would have on the motorsports industry. The EPA did not have a representative there, but Brent Yacobucci of the Congressional Research Service spoke to the regulatory side of the matter.

This is where things get interesting.

Yacobucci feels the whole controversy stems from two different interpretations of existing laws held by the EPA and SEMA.

While SEMA states that racecars have always been exempt from the Clean Air Act, the EPA’s stance is that there has never been an exemption for modifying the emissions systems of a road car, even if the car is now relegated solely to the racetrack.

Yacobucci opined that a change in the EPA’s regulatory language could solve the problem. If a driver were to remove the emissions label when they removed their vehicle from the street, that could make the subsequent modifications legal.

Even if the EPA doesn’t choose to go that route, another option would be for owners to report their non-street-legal vehicle to the regulator in the same manner as someone importing a race car.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Rday Rday on Mar 17, 2016

    I would bet that many so called 'racers' forget to hook up the emissions control devices on their cars after the races are over. they bypass the mufflers and other things too. It is time to update the law so that these law breakers don't continue to get away with their fun and games.

  • Ja-gti Ja-gti on Mar 17, 2016

    Is air quality being adversely affected by the bypassing of some emissions equipment on part-time race cars or owners who mod their car? Is there actual data? Or is this just regulators looking to increase their influence (and therefore their budget)? Do people think that choices for car enthusiasts have to be further reduced, companies forced out of business, and the cost of pursuing a hobby further increased so that we can have clean air? How many race cars are there per regulation- compliant vehicle on the road? 1:10,000? 1:50,000? Why is this such a big deal to a federal agency that has much bigger fish to fry? Or must every American in the "land of free" toe the line with any and every bureaucrat that exists?

  • God'stime nice
  • MaintenanceCosts Mercedes coupes should not have B-pillars and this one is dead to me because it has one.
  • EBFlex Pretty awesome this thread is almost universally against this pile of garbage. Tesla really missed the mark.
  • FreedMike I suppose that in some crowded city like Rome or Tokyo, there's a market for a luxurious pint-size car. I don't think they'll be able to give them away here in the U.S.
  • TMA1 How much did exchange rates affect this decision? The Renegade is imported from Italy. I'm wondering if that's what caused the price to reach within a few hundred of the much bigger Compass. Kind of a no-brainer to pick the larger, more modern vehicle.