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Congress Must Pass The RPM Act To Save The Aftermarket Industry And Save The Racecars

Those who modify vehicles for the purpose of racing them are currently in jeopardy of not being allowed to do so, under current interpretation of the Clean Air Act. The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act (RPM) of 2019 has been reintroduced into Congress for vote and consideration. SEMA and others have started a petition to have their voices heard.

I find politics exhausting generally – especially after the last couple of years. I generally like to ignore most of the talking head news shows and pay little attention to the nonsense that goes in Washington D.C.

I wrote a story predicting that the end of the gasoline engine was not as close as some people want you to believe. And in doing that opinion piece, I encountered other stories of the same ilk. And it brought me to write this opinion piece about a bill that's making it way through D.C.

I took note of a bill reintroduced recently known as the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act. This bill was first introduced and advanced through political committees in 2019. Now with a new legislation, as well as a change at the executive level, the bipartisan bill was reintroduced.

Photo courtesy of SEMA

What Is The RPM Act?
In a nutshell, the RPM Act clarifies interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which is a long-standing environmentally-focused piece of legislation. For years there was much ambiguity in the Clean Air Act and often, based upon who was in the Oval Office, the EPA did little to force interpretations one way or the other. However, previously under the Obama administration and now under the Biden administration, there is concern that certain interpretations and enforcement could lead to preventing individuals from tuning or modifying their personal vehicles for the sake of racing.

Therefore, the RPM Act looks to clarify that racecars used exclusively for competition do not violate any portion of the Clean Air Act.

According to a news story on aftermarketnews.com, the American tradition of tuning and modifying a vehicle for the purpose of racing “was unquestioned for nearly 50 years until 2015 when the EPA took the position that converted street vehicles that compete on the track must remain emissions-compliant, even though they are not driven on public streets or highways. The EPA also maintains that the equipment used to transform a street vehicle into a racecar is prohibited.”

As such, the necessity of the RPM Act is needed.

SEMA united ignited cause

The Politics Behind The RPM Act
U.S. Senators Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, were co-sponsors on the bill and they also got 24 other Senators to endorse the legislature.

Having bipartisan support in such a divided legislative branch will be extremely important to advance RPM.

“American racing runs on traditions,” said Senator Burr. “For more than 50 years, motorsports enthusiasts have purchased cars and modified them to race, off of public roads. However, this tradition was threatened when the Obama EPA attempted to make these modifications illegal. This legislation upholds Congress’ intent of the Clean Air Act and protects motorsports, for professionals and amateurs alike, for years to come. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation, and I look forward to seeing it move through the Senate.”

Senator Manchin weighed in as well. “A big part of the fun of motorsports is the tradition of modifying regular cars into racecars,” he said. “This legislation upholds amendments to the Clean Air Act that exempt modified vehicles and racecars from certain environmental regulations, protecting motorsports for years to come. I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan bill and look forward to the boost it will give to motorsports.”

SEMA logo

SEMA Takes A Strong Stance In Support of RPM
Specialty Equipment Market Association, better known as SEMA, has come out passionately in favor of RPM, imploring its members to write their elected officials and have their voices heard.

SEMA says, “Motorsports competition involves tens of thousands of participants and vehicle owners each year, both amateur and professional. Retail sales of racing products make up a nearly $2 billion market annually. Most of the vehicles raced on the estimated 1,300 racetracks operating across the U.S. are converted vehicles that the EPA considers to be illegal.”

SEMA President & CEO Chris Kersting has come out vocally in support of RPM and the Senators who helped to advance it through the legislative chamber.
“SEMA looks forward to working with Congress to enact the RPM Act and make permanent the Clean Air Act’s original intention that race vehicle conversions are legal,” said Kersting. “We thank Senators Burr and Manchin for reintroducing a bill that will protect businesses that produce, install and sell the parts that enable racers to compete.”

SEMA has a link about RPM where you can contact your elected official in support of the bill. Find more on SEMA's RPM stance along with their petition here.

Final Thought
RPM seems necessary to stop government overreach and misinterpretation of an ambiguous, albeit well-meaning, law. In the overarching umbrella of The Green New Deal, there’s a lot of passion for environmentalism. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Many of us are in favor cleaner air and a greener planet. But, if you want to get young people enthused about environmentalism, attacking their hobby and passion is not the answer.

The Fast and the Furious franchise has made a huge cultural impact on young people. Many love tuning and modifying their cars. Being told they can’t do it will only anger them and hurt the overall cause. RPM should be passed and signed into law to not only protect individual rights, but to protect a billion-dollar industry like the automotive aftermarket.

And in Sacramento, California, they just banned many DIY auto repairs including body work and engine swaps, as I reported on here.

What are your thoughts on this? Leave me your comments below.

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.

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If these parts were truly only used on race cars I’d support the law, but the reality is the buyers put them in road-going cars (my guess is more often than not) so I don’t see that EPA has a lot of choice - there’s no way to enforce a race use only” without nationwide emissions testing, which we don’t have.
Also, Walter when there were state by state emissions testing they were a joke. Exempting older cars etc. and forcing brand new vehicles which had just been built to have expensive testing. If you can't see this as major government overreach then I don't what else to tell you. The nanny state we live in continues to grow and because of complacent and compliant citizens just thinking it's all okay.
Actually, the EPA's stance on emissions could be regulated without destroying a racing culture for those who regard emission laws. Simple resolution, the law can focus on the individuals on the public roads who operate vehicles that should be registered as race cars. No need to punish those who do things right (i.e. operate their converted vehicle(s) on a race track).
Walter, so you want the government to tell you what you can and can't do with your private property? So then you are okay with the EPA telling you lights out by 11 p.m. and what to keep your thermostat at? That's the same thing. There is a choice.
Dictatorship everywhere. Never thought I’d live to see the day we can’t even modify our cars. The younger generation that builds, tunes, fabricates, wow! Amazing, these kids building and modifying their race cars are the engineers of our future. They are typically not out doing or selling drugs, they are focused and their innovations sometimes end up as safety features or even help make our daily consumer vehicles more efficient. Save the environment! PLEASE! Well let’s get rid of Nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons, nuclear powered military vehicles and nuclear waste. Ever heard of Chernobyl or Fukushima, how about Hanford nuclear waste site? Race cars do minimal damage. Here’s one for you desk geeks, how bout let’s fix homelessness and drug addiction, racial hatred needs to effin’ stop! Those are more important I think, I think we should start there!
Right on Jasper!
yes i agree jasper
Ryan, exactly. Very premature. And the US has had their greenhouse gases decreased by significant amounts over the last 20 years. We are doing our part. Why punish private citizens.
That's not true.
What's not true?
No Congress does not need to pass this rubbish. It's fully known this is a blanket excuse to keep selling pollution bypass devices under the guise of racing only so you greedy bastards can keep peddling your pollution while the planet burns. You can take that RPM crap and shove it.
This person doesn't even sound American. Who in the world still says "peddling"? Whoever this person is, they obviously have one foot in the grave and shouldn't meddle in this worlds affairs anymore. Much less the United States affairs. If the RPM Act doesn't pass, and all emissions modifications become illegal. Out of spite, I'll run my cars engine far more than usual. That means warming the car up for at least 10 minutes every time I start it. On cold winter days to the hot of summer nights. I'll also start dumping my used oil into random forests, and stop recycling. All out of spite for you naive environmentalists. You fuck with my main hobby and passion, I'll watch the world burn and do everything in my power to destroy the things you love. P.S. Don't let me catch you down a dark alley in the middle of the night.. For Real? ..
This person doesn't even sound American. Who in the world still says "peddling"? Whoever this person is, they obviously have one foot in the grave and shouldn't meddle in this worlds affairs anymore. Much less the United States affairs. If the RPM Act doesn't pass, and all emissions modifications become illegal. Out of spite, I'll run my cars engine far more than usual. That means warming the car up for at least 10 minutes every time I start it. On cold winter days to the hot of summer nights. I'll also start dumping my used oil into random forests, and stop recycling. All out of spite for you naive environmentalists. You fuck with my main hobby and passion, I'll watch the world burn and do everything in my power to destroy the things you love. P.S. Don't let me catch you down a dark alley in the middle of the night.. For Real? ..
Hey calm down RA. Your just making us part swappers look bad, we’re not all dinosaurs like you. Actually I think there’s nothing wrong with catalytic converters, what’s the big deal it’s a big heated can that burns stuff. If “ tomorrow’s engineers” and today’s modifiers can’t pull HP with a high flow catalytic converter on then something else is wrong. This isn’t restricting turbos is it? Because your adding them into the exhaust system?
Rubbish? You sound like you might be from over the pond. If so, this mentality may work there, but here, it simply won't do. As always everyone is entitled to their opinion, but on this one, it doesn't mesh with our mindset here.
For real you want to talk shit about us trying to save what we love that would be like taking your wife away and then stopping you from trying to save her so take your bullshit liberal ass on somewhere it's people like you In this world that ruin shit for everyone else
Modified vehicles quite often get better fuel mileage and burn cleaner than factory built crap. My 71' blazer, modified to the limits... got 21 mpg, my 2000 1 ton diesel ford with exhaust and computer chip mods gets up to 23 mpg, my dads 05 stock nissan pickup has never been better than 15mpg....these government rules are BULLONEY !! Many people do MANY repairs themselves cuz they can't afford to hire a shop. All the so-called environmentalists need to stop using plastic and making waste.... If you stop and junk all these so called polluter cars we'd overwhelm the us soil with stuff and hafta step up mining to build new overpriced vehicles..... YOU"LL hafta pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hands... if ya can catch me in my modified fast offroad race buggy, or the 750hp street rod... We don't need ANY laws limiting anymore aftermarket stuff !!
keep the car communitiy going
Supporting Sima and the RPM act I needs to be passed by Congress to keep our hot rods hot rods
For Real? - Dude lol, you need to do some research about the modern items and luxury's you use daily and where they come from, and the amount of energy and effect on the environment they have while or to get into your hands. Additionally, people just don't like the fact that other people can do what they want. It's not your business how people spend their time fabricating and modifying their cars. Simply put, not your business. If you're going to complain about "Peddling your pollution while the planet burns" as you sit in your air conditioned home, powered by coal sent miles under ground and above ground causing slight radiation pollution as it travels through cities. Hell, I laugh as a data center mechanical engineer reading through comments like yours. Do you have phone on you? Well if you do, here is some info, it directly interacts with millions of data centers that literally run the world for our modern age of technology that burn/ utilize more energy than you can imagine. Yes, combustion engines burning fuel causes emissions, but so does all the electricity you and your love ones use daily. But the modifying car world, not like you care to read this, actually highly encourage alternative fuels and have been using them for tuning and changing the modern car age. Also, Tesla has 90%+ of their charging stations are burning fossils fuels. 90%+ home 240V power stations are directly connected to city power grid. I don't understand how instead of going for private citizens this energy of effort isn't directed towards stopping of nuclear power usage in military vehicles, the amount of pollution caused by literally many large monopolizing corporations. Maybe.. Even producing efforts towards harnessing better solar capture technologies, wave energy capturing, developing replaceable filters that capture carbon escaping from industrial factory's, finding alternative and safer methods to depose and reduce human trash, or maybe since we're on the topic, developing a modern science team to research mass-production hydrogen combustion which emits water. Point being going to private citizens and controlling their private property isn't the best method and seems like putting a band aid on small hole via an inflatable pool the size of Texas. It's ridiculous and seems more like control and $ than environmental aid.
You're right it's all about control.
Time to move my Red Barchetta far outside the wire where my white haired uncle waits.
Obviously you haven't actually read the act. Because its very clearly designed to allow people like the Diesel brothers to get away with what they did. I've done plenty of mods on plenty of things and I can smell the money trail a mile away. This isn't for the modders, this is for the companies that throw billions of dollars around. If it would have just exempted motorsports it would have been fine, but that's not what its actually doing. I would have agreed with you if it wouldn't have been for part 3b of the act. Something that makes it illegal for the EPA to keep track of who sells the parts, where the parts are going, who installs the parts, or who uses the parts. If it were really about saving motorsports then they wouldn't have any problem letting the EPA keep an eye on assholes like the Diesel brothers.
The RPM Act should be renamed the Coal-rolling Hillbilly On-road Authorization Doubtlessness Act, or CHOAD for short. The way to keep these tuners in business and also guaranteeing that modified vehicles stay off public roads is to require tuners to invalidate vehicle registrations (and take their license plates) for any vehicle they modify or ship their tunes to.
Wow Rhonda. That's quite a bit of stereotyping you've done there. And very out of touch.