EPA says “No racecars for YOU!”

How weird is this. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that they are considering a regulatory framework that disallow enthusiasts from converting their production vehicles for motorsport use. Now think about this for a moment. First of all, there are the enthusiasts like me who build an old POS hatchback into a rallycross car, but there are also the huge assortment of local dirt track cars that started life as family cars. Now consider all of the various production-based Touring and GT series such as SCCA’s Pirelli World Challenge and Trans Am, IMSA’s TUDOR Sports Car Championship and Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge, and of course every single rally car in Rally America and the Global Rallycross Championship. If the modification of production cars into racing machines is made illegal by this regulation, it could be the demise of grassroots motorsport and GT racing in the US.

Thankfully, some powerful folk are keeping an eye on this. Below is the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) press release indicating their stance on the pending EPA action. What are your thoughts on this? Is this something that’s much ado about nothing, or should we be writing our representatives right now?

Official SEMA Press Release

— SEMA to Oppose Action as Threat to Modified Racecars and Parts Suppliers —

Washington, DC (February 8, 2016) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a regulation to prohibit conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into racecars. The regulation would also make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal. The proposed regulation was contained within a non-related proposed regulation entitled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2.”

The regulation would impact all vehicle types, including the sports cars, sedans and hatch-backs commonly converted strictly for use at the track. While the Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to motor vehicles, it is clear that vehicles built or modified for racing, and not used on the streets, are not the “motor vehicles” that Congress intended to regulate.

“This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency, runs contrary to the law and defies decades of racing activity where EPA has acknowledged and allowed conversion of vehicles,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “Congress did not intend the original Clean Air Act to extend to vehicles modified for racing and has re-enforced that intent on more than one occasion.”

SEMA submitted comments in opposition to the regulation and met with the EPA to confirm the agency’s intentions. The EPA indicated that the regulation would prohibit conversion of vehicles into racecars and make the sale of certain emissions-related parts for use on converted vehicles illegal. Working with other affected organizations, including those representing legions of professional and hobbyist racers and fans, SEMA will continue to oppose the regulation through the administrative process and will seek congressional support and judicial intervention as necessary.

The EPA has indicated it expects to publish final regulations by July 2016.

About SEMA
SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $36 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,633 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909-610-2030, or visit www.sema.org.

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My first thought is doesn’t the EPA have anything better to do. Race car emissions have to be minuscule compared to road car and truck traffic. Second how would you even enforce this? The EPA would have to send an agent to all of the hundreds if not thousands of dirt tracks that are in use every Friday and Saturday night during the summer, and that’s not going to happen. Thirdly, IMSA(and the France family) would use their not insignificant political power to lobby against this, along with other interested parties like SEMA. Bottom line I don’t think this ever… Read more »

Negative Camber

When they aren’t poisoning rivers in Colorado, I guess they have time to focus on encroaching on private property rights and ham-fisted legislation. Is this really a cause they have time for? Colgate says that running water while brushing teeth is wasting 4 gallons of water that otherwise could be used by less fortunate people. Could they not worry about how to make cheaper desalinization methods etc? Good grief.

Robert Rick

SEMA says “No clean air for YOU!”

Negative Camber

Are there studies showing that enthusiasts converting cars to run on weekends is denying humanity clean air? What research have they done to pass legislation to prevent an egregious abuser of clean air? Or is this simply an addendum to an ever-expanding legislative initiative that has no real basis in research as to single out enthusiast racing? Perhaps they could concern themselves with places like the Colorado river and Flint instead? Would that not be a better use of their time and a bigger gain than trying to cram down on a niche industry? Seems like it to me, anyway.


I wonder what’ll happen if I enable my ECU tune during my upcoming March emissions inspection. Will I fail?

Fred Talmadge

Right now you can’t modify your street car for racing AND drive it on the street. Even that rule is only enforced where they smog check your car.


The things they’ll do to take peoples’ minds off of the job they did on Flint MI… I guess It’s time to face reality. It’s not that they love the environment, they just hate people.

Negative Camber

A big thank you to Bob B. over on our Facebook page fo adding to the conversation about this. Bob said: You know JG Pasterjak is? An editor at Grassroots Motorsports. Hers what he’s said: Please stop with the “EPA is trying to ban high-performance parts” thing already. Disappointingly enough, I see some fellow journalist types falling for it as well. They clearly don’t remember that this is basically the same rider that’s been around for decades that has basically served as sacrificial text for various EPA bills over the years in various forms. Essentially it becomes a way for… Read more »


Yet behind this is the exact same sentiment that is adversely impacting Formula 1.


If you want to make something as inefficient and ineffective as possible let the Government run it.

Except for whatever Grace does, they are brilliant. ;)