RMP Act - The Future of Motorsports Remains in Jeopardy!


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The future of motorsports remains in jeopardy! The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act is critical to protecting the industry now and in the future.

The RPM Act is a bipartisan bill that protects Americans’ right to modify street vehicles into dedicated racecars and industry’s right to sell the parts that enable racers to compete.

The bill was reintroduced in January 2017, at the beginning of the new Congress, in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 350) by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and in the U.S. Senate (S.203) by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Both 2017 bills are identical to the 2016 versions.

In July 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a proposal that would have prohibited the conversion of street vehicles into race cars used exclusively for the track. While the EPA has formally withdrawn the proposal, the agency continues to assert authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate the modification of vehicles used for competition. Congressional action is the only way to guarantee that street vehicles can continue to be modified for the track, well into the future.

The RPM Act confirms that it has always been Congress’ intent that racecars are not include in the Clean Air Act’s definition of “motor vehicle.” The RPM Act makes clear that it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a racecar used exclusively at the track, and confirms that modifying these vehicles for exclusive track use would not be considered tampering.

When the RPM Act was first introduced in 2016, racing enthusiasts and Americans working in the motorsports parts industry flooded Congress with nearly 200,000 letters in support of the bill. The overwhelming response encouraged more than one-fourth of the U.S. House of Representatives to join as bill cosponsors as a result. However, the shortened election year schedule did not permit sufficient time for passage of the bill by the previous Congress.

Racing enthusiasts and industry members can help sustain this energy this year and encourage Congress to act by sending a letter to support the RPM Act. Even if you have signed a letter in the past, please take a moment and sign another letter. Click here to tell to your elected officials to support the RPM Act.

SEMA members can bring this energy to your websites, social media platforms, storefronts and garages and rally your customers, employees, followers and friends to take action. Use the assets found in SEMA’s digital toolkit: www.sema.org/rpmtools.

The Clean Air Act prohibits the EPA from regulating racecars used exclusively on the track. When Congress amended the law in 1990 to authorize the EPA to regulate nonroad vehicles, it expressly exempted “vehicles used solely for competition” to ensure there was no confusion about the regulatory exclusion.

However, despite withdrawing troubling language from a proposed rule, the EPA maintains that converting a motor vehicle’s emissions’ system is “tampering” and that a vehicle is forever a “motor vehicle” subject to the Clean Air Act, even if it is unregistered, the license have been plates removed and the vehicle is never driven on the highway. It is at the EPA’s discretion when it can enforce this authority.

The RPM Act would address this vulnerability and provide the public and regulated industry with certainty regarding how the Clean Air Act is applied, and allow Congress to confirm that it has ultimate authority.

Impact On Racers:
The EPA’s enforcement authority could affect any vehicle, including sports cars, sedans and hatch-backs, that starts its life as a street car or motorcycle if it was originally certified to federal emissions standards. Federal emissions standards have been effective since 1968, so the EPA’s prohibition would cover all motor vehicles dating back to that year. Note, the EPA is not claiming authority over purpose-built racecars like those used today in NASCAR, or “nonroad vehicles” (dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and boats) that are used exclusively for racing.

Impact On Motorsports And Industry:
The EPA continues to claim that it has the authority to regulate street cars modified exclusively for the track. Only clarifying legislation will confirm that such activity is legal and beyond the reach of future EPA regulations. Further, if the EPA decided to enforce this authority, it would have a devastating impact on motorsports since many types of racing rely on production vehicles that have been modified for use strictly at the track. It would also decimate the industry that supplies the products used in motorsports. The specialty equipment automotive aftermarket employs about one million Americans across all 50 states. Current retail sales of racing products make up a $1.4 billion annual market.

Implications For Future Regulations:
Regulators have already targeted manufacturers, distributors and retailers under current Clean Air Act authority. Installers may be the next target. Even if the EPA doesn’t go after individual racers, this uncertainty could have a chilling effect on the supply chain. Legitimate racing products may no longer be developed and sold, and businesses may no longer be willing to modify vehicles.

  • Charlotte Observer: NC lawmakers seek permanent race car exemption from EPA anti-pollution standards (January 13, 2017)
  • The Hill: Republicans to EPA: Race cars off limits (January 9, 2017)
  • PRI: SEMA Legislative Experts Discuss Status of RPM Act At PRI Trade Show (December 8, 2016)
  • The SHOP: SEMA on RPM Act: 'We Intend to Get the Job Done in 2017' (December 8, 2016)
  • The Detroit News: Mod-shops push for protection from EPA (July 20, 2016)
  • The Detroit News: Aftermarket industry, racers rev up RPM Act support (July 20, 2016)
  • Motor1.com: Why Congress needs to weigh in on the EPA’s proposed rules about race cars (July 15, 2016)
  • NationalSpeedSportNews.com: “VIDEO: Can the EPA Force a Motorsports Ban?” (May 11, 2016)
  • Super Chevy: “The EPA Wants to Outlaw Your Race Car. Don’t Let Them!” (May 5, 2016)
  • Richmond County Daily Journal: “Emission Rules Parked: Hudson, McHenry Seek to Protect Racing Industry” (April 22, 2016)
  • Beyond The Flag: “EPA Drops Controversial Racecar Rule, Threats Still Remain” (April 17, 2016)
  • Hot Rod Network: “EPA Update: Members of Congress Joining Fight to Save Racecars” (March 30, 2016)
  • Gaston Gazette: “McHenry: EPA needs to leave racing alone” (March 18, 2016)
  • FOX News: “EPA crashes amateur car races with buried regulation” (March 16, 2016)
  • Hot Rod Network: “We Need Your Help: Support H.R. 4715 ‘Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016’” (March 9, 2016)
  • Road & Track: “Congressmen Work to Block EPA Proposal on Race-Modified Street Cars” (March 8, 2016)
  • Street Legal TV: “How One Proposed New EPA Regulation Could Decimate The Aftermarket” (February 29, 2016)
  • Motor Trend: “EPA’s Read Target: The Automotive Aftermarket” (February 12, 2016)
  • FoxNews.com: “EPA proposal would restrict road to race car conversions” (February 9, 2016)
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