Campaign to Save Our Race Cars Hits High Gear

SEMA News—August 2018

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS

By Colby Martin

Campaign to Save Our Race Cars Hits High Gear

Latest Outlook on the RPM Act Shows No Signs of Slowing

  RPM Act
Imagine a world where motorsports as we know them today cannot exist. The RPM Act is the only solution that will ensure that this time-honored tradition and livelihood for millions of Americans will be preserved for generations to come.
   

Some forms of competition are won quickly by an all-out sprint. Others require endurance to cross the finish line first. It’s certainly no surprise to the automotive community that the nation’s legislative turf continues to be more akin to a rock-crawling competition than a quarter-mile drag race. Issues important to the automotive specialty-equipment marketplace continue to jockey for position at the federal and state levels throughout the United States.

For those following the saga of one important national issue—the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act—precision and perseverance have been the key formula for going the distance. Much ground has been covered since the effort originally began in 2015. SEMA worked with its allies in Congress to craft legislation responding to a proposed 2015 regulation from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) that threatened many forms of racing and the motorsports parts industry. The measure sought to make illegal the act of converting a street vehicle or motorcycle into a race vehicle used exclusively at the track if the emissions system is taken out of compliance from its stock configuration.

While the EPA dropped the provision from the final greenhouse gas rule, the agency maintains that selling or installing legitimate racing parts for use on converted motor vehicles is illegal under the Clean Air Act. Phrased differently, it’s once a motor vehicle, always a motor vehicle, even if it has been converted into a dedicated race car. Whether or not the EPA seeks to enforce that interpretation of the law, individual enthusiasts, the racing industry and parts makers remain under threat, as companies will no longer be able to sell or install emissions-related racing products without fear of being fined by the EPA.

Corvette
In addition to under-the-hood performance parts, customers won’t be buying and installing racing tires, wheels, brakes, suspension and other equipment if a car or motorcycle cannot be converted into a dedicated race vehicle.
 
   

In addition to under-the-hood performance parts, the use of products such as racing tires, wheels, brakes, suspension equipment, rollcages and netting, spoilers, fuel gauges and sensors are threatened unless the RPM Act becomes law. Customers won’t be buying and installing those products if a car or motorcycle cannot be converted into a dedicated race vehicle.

For nearly 50 years, the practice of converting motor vehicles into dedicated race vehicles and selling emissions-related parts for those vehicles was unquestioned. Congress never intended for the EPA to regulate racing machines, which are excluded from the Clean Air Act’s definition of “motor vehicle.” The RPM Act simply returns the marketplace to the way the law had previously been applied. Enactment of the legislation will ensure that enthusiasts can continue to purchase and install high-performance parts on a converted car, truck or motorcycle that is used exclusively for racing.

The RPM Act was first introduced in 2016 and garnered considerable bipartisan support before the year ended. The start of the 2017–2018 session of Congress meant hitting the reset button on SEMA’s efforts to pass the RPM Act. The bill was quickly reintroduced and, to date, more than 185 House and Senate members are co-sponsors—more than one-third of the U.S. Congress! That has been accomplished by in-person meetings with lawmakers, along with more than 75,000 individual letters sent by racers, fans and the motorsports community.

Hearings have been held on both the House and Senate bills (H.R. 350 and S. 203). The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 350 last December, and it awaits a House floor vote. A vote on S. 203 is pending before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The engine is revving on both bills. SEMA is working with lawmakers and the EPA to confirm that this commonsense legislation will achieve the goal of protecting racing parts and vehicles while preserving the EPA’s authority to enforce against illegal modifications to highway vehicles.

Stay tuned as we seek to win the race to protect motorsports.

Grassroots Support
While a significant number of lawmakers have voiced support for the RPM Act, there is still an opportunity to enlist more elected officials. You can help.

Lawmakers want to hear from their constituents about how the EPA’s action affects their businesses, employees, local racers and customer base. Act now to help us bring this important bill across the finish line and get it enacted into law.

  • Sign the RPM Act letter to Congress at www.saveourracecars.com. It takes only a moment, and every letter counts.
  • Spread the word about this effort any way you can: company websites, email, social media, forums, blogs, etc. Resources are posted at www.sema.org/epa-news.
  • Sign up for the SEMA Action Network at www.semasan.com/join if you haven’t already. There’s no cost, spam or catch. The SEMA Action Network will help you stay informed regarding issues in Congress and your state legislature that impact the hobby.

Thank you for your role in protecting our motorsports tradition and the right to race. Ignited we stand!

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