From F1 to WRC, from Le Mans to Formula DRIFT, motorsports are now on the chopping block! That’s right, the EPA is waging all-out war against car culture, and trying to make it illegal for you to turn your WRX into a 700-horsepower rally car that shoots flames out the back with what they’re calling a National Compliance Initiative.
Could this mean the end of American car culture for good? Well, don’t lose hope just yet, because in our corner, we have our champion SEMA. But are they strong enough to take on the EPA? Let’s dive into exactly what SEMA is doing to save our racecars, and how it could stop the EPA from ripping off our bolt-ons.
This is how the EPA is trying to ban car mods.
Car Culture: What’s At Stake
If you somehow wandered onto this website and you’re not a car guy, first of all, what the hell are you doing here? Just kidding. Welcome. Second of all, you should know that American car culture is about way more than getting a factory-spec Mustang and showing it off to your friends.
Modding has been central to the American car scene since the dawn of time, and it really separates us from a lot of other countries. While a lot of countries have very strict rules on what you can do to your car, America is about freedom! Modding cars is practically in our Bill of Rights. Well, it’s not, but it should be.
And that is why people all over the world are obsessed with American car culture. From the cherry paint classics of the 50s and 60s to our anti-lag popping, flame-splitting, turbocharged tuner cars of today! Americans just cannot leave their cars stock!
But now, with the EPA waging war on SEMA and aftermarket part manufacturers, you might not even be able to find any of these parts in a few years. In case you don’t know, SEMA stands for Special Equipment Market Association, and they’re basically the champions of the American aftermarket. They hold trade shows for small businesses to showcase their aftermarket offerings, as well as host one of the largest custom car shows in existence, the iconic Las Vegas SEMA Show. And they help protect enthusiasts’ right to modify their cars.
Now, they’re being demonized by the EPA, who paint them as a group of evil villains hell-bent on destroying the environment. Listen, we here at Ideal love the environment as much as the next person, and want the air to be as clean as possible, but by banning aftermarket parts? That’s bullshit.
The EPA would basically be wiping American car culture off the face of the Earth. Not to mention destroying the multi-billion dollar industry that the aftermarket represents, and who knows what that could do to our country economically.
On top of that, if the aftermarket disappears, it would effectively kill off motorsports altogether, since the only people that would be able to build racecars would be multi-million-dollar race teams. No more track day bros with built Supras, no more autocrossing your Civic or hitting the skidpad with your buds. Only the Lewis Hamiltons and Ken Blocks of the world might still be able to compete. And, boy, do we love watching them drive, but motorsports should be accessible to the average person!
Think about it this way: how would we ever have another Lebron James if it became illegal for young kids to play basketball? Motorsports and modifications are at the very heart of American car culture, and it’s what has separated us from the pack on the global stage. This aftermarket ban that the EPA is proposing would mean the end of a tradition that dates back to the very first cars, and we think that’s pretty sad.
Absurd Demands: What the EPA Wants
The EPA has announced that it has become a top priority to rid the streets of all high performance parts including screws, snails, and pipes, and we’re not just talking about cars that you drive on the street. Nope! The EPA wants to make it illegal for you to build a racecar in your garage. Absurd.
I can understand that the EPA would be against people deleting the cat or straight-piping their daily driver. Catalytic converters are very important to protecting our air quality, and I certainly wouldn’t be too upset if they put an end to the whole “rolling coal” thing. But making it illegal to put a supercharger in a dedicated racecar that’s driven only on the track? That just makes no sense at all.
The EPA is essentially trying to use the Clean Air Act, the law that allows them to set standards for vehicle emissions and requires automotive manufacturers to include emissions control devices on their vehicles. Now, the EPA wants to expand the scope of the Clean Air Act to make it illegal to tamper with those control devices in any way, and to ban the manufacture or sale of “defeat devices”, or basically any aftermarket part that adds horsepower.
If you want a taste of what these laws can do on a national level, look at California. The CARB laws there have basically turned every tuner and car-nut into a criminal. What the EPA wants to do is way worse than that, and this isn’t the first time they’ve tried to do something like this.
Back in 2016, they tried to enforce a similar interpretation of the Clean Air Act, but luckily, the Racing Enthusiasts and Suppliers Coalition went to court with them and allowed us to keep our racecars for another couple of years. So, this time around, what can we do to make sure the EPA doesn’t end American car culture for good?
The RPM Act: Our Savior
Luckily, when it comes to protecting motorsports, all hope is not yet lost. The enthusiast community, with SEMA at the forefront, is trying to push the RPM Act through Congress, which would protect our right to build racecars.
The RPM Act, which is the perfect name for a bill about high-revving racecars, actually stands for the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act”, and is meant to push back against the EPA’s hatred of cars. No, the Act does not protect your right to drive your tuned Subie around on public roads, only to drive on the track for competition purposes. I know that a lot of you watching this may have performance mods on your street car, but that’s a fight for another day.
For those of you that hate politics, remember that voting matters, and you do have the power to vote for laws that will protect your right to repair and modify. Modifying cars for track use, however, is an American tradition that spans back more than 100 years, and really has a negligible environmental impact. I mean, think about drag racing. The whole race lasts only a couple seconds! I’m not a scientist, but I don’t think you can cause serious environmental damage in a race that lasts all of 7 seconds.
Even in California, where they’ve notoriously had the strictest emissions standards, racecars for track use are exempt from those emissions standards, because they’re forced to recognize that motorsports are a serious hobby for a lot of people. And we’re really fortunate that agencies like the NHRA have deep pockets and strong lobbies, so that they can continue to keep the NIMBYs away from our tracks.
However, the EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Air Act would be a national campaign, meaning that regardless of what the state laws are, the EPA could shut down aftermarket manufacturers everywhere in the country. Unless, of course, we can get the RPM Act passed through Congress, which would protect the rights of aftermarket part manufacturers so they can continue making badass mods for us enthusiasts, and keep modified cars on the track.
So, what can you do to make sure the RPM Act gets passed? Well, get ready to start clicking, because we need your help!
Get Involved: What You Can Do
If you want to make sure that the RPM Act gets passed and American car culture survives, sign the RPM Act petition and let the elected officials in your state know that you don’t want the aftermarket shut down.
I think if you’re reading this article, you probably don’t want to see American car culture or motorsports go down the drain. So head on over to that site, and sign you name as “This is America, where you can tune a Dodge SRT4 to a billion horsepower, take it to the track, and tear a hole in the pavement!” Let’s keep it that way!