By Juan Torres
Businesses throughout the country are taking a stand against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) claim that it is illegal to modify street vehicles and convert them into dedicated race cars. The $2 billion racing industry is pushing back by seeking passage of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act of 2021 (H.R. 3281), a bipartisan bill which clarifies the motorsports-parts industry’s ability to sell products that enable racers to compete, and protects Americans’ right to convert street vehicles into dedicated race cars.
“The inconsistency of the EPA’s stance around converting street cars to purpose-built track vehicles has not only constrained long-term investment in the industry but it is creating added complexity/concern for our customers,” said Chris Douglas of Edelbrock Group, a company that has been manufacturing performance parts since 1938. “The RPM Act is the first step in protecting and preserving our industry for future generations—now is the time for action."
In 2015, the EPA endangered the motorsports industry when it introduced a proposal that would have put an end to racers’ ability to modify street vehicles into dedicated race cars, a practice that has taken place for 45 years since the Clean Air Act was introduced. Although the EPA formally withdrew the proposal, the agency has since maintained that street vehicles cannot be converted into race cars—an assertion that has left the motorsports industry in a state of flux. Passage of the RPM Act will make clear that the Clean Air Act does not apply to street vehicles that have been converted into race cars used exclusively in competition, giving the industry the confidence and clarity that it needs.
As advocates for the motorsports industry, Performance Racing Industry (PRI) is also pushing for the RPM Act. “Businesses are at risk,” said Dr. Jamie Meyer, PRI president. “Racers and businesses deserve a law that clarifies that it is legal to convert a street vehicle into a dedicated race car. PRI will continue to fight to preserve what is an American tradition until the RPM Act is passed.”
Introduced by U.S. Representatives Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA), the RPM Act currently has the support of 65 cosponsors, including 19 Democrats and 46 Republicans. Dedicated race cars, which represent 0.07% of vehicles in operation, are trailered to and from the racetrack and have little effect on the environment. Yet for thousands of amateur racers, starting with a street-legal vehicle and using race products to convert it into a dedicated race car is the only affordable way to get into the sport. In order to protect racers and ensure that racers can continue to legally modify their vehicles into race cars, the RPM Act—which was introduced to Congress last month—must be passed into law.
“Many of our customers and employees are avid racers who build dedicated vehicles for competition,” says Al Noe, Summit Racing Equipment’s chief marketing officer. “Our customers trust us to deliver the parts they need so they are ready to race; they can also trust us to fight for their right to build and race these vehicles. The RPM Act is vital to ensuring a vibrant future for motorsports and our industry as a whole.”
The RPM Act was first introduced as a bill in 2016. Over the years, it received strong legislative support, and although versions of the bill have passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee, it was never fully voted on before the end of any Congressional year. Because the bill has already been subject to committee hearings before the House and the Senate, the 2021 RPM Act is well positioned to become law this legislative year.
The racing community is urged to continue to voice support for the bill by visiting www.saveourracecars.com.