EPA proposal would restrict road to non-road (Race and Offroad) conversions

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Lifestyle Overland

Rank VI
Founder 500

Navigator I

United States
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The EPA is at it again... this could affect us all.


"Recently proposed EPA automobile emissions rules could put the brakes on the popular pursuit of converting road cars into race cars for professional and amateur use, says a major automotive trade organization.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association, more commonly known as SEMA, raised the alarm after coming across a passage in the federal agency’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles - Phase 2 proposal that reads:

“Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become non-road vehicles or engines.”

According to SEMA, which represents the aftermarket parts and custom car industry, this passage means just what it says: Cars and trucks originally built and sold for street use would not be exempt from emissions rules if they are converted into competition vehicles.

And the EPA agrees.

An agency spokeswoman told Fox News that the proposal essentially restates what the EPA already considers to be the law.

“People may use EPA-certified motor vehicles for competition, but to protect public health from air pollution, the Clean Air Act has – since its inception – specifically prohibited tampering with or defeating the emission control systems on those vehicles,” she said.

She added that the updated rule “clarifies the distinction between motor vehicles and nonroad vehicles such as dirt bikes and snowmobiles. Unlike motor vehicles – which include cars, light trucks, and highway motorcycles – nonroad vehicles may, under certain circumstances, be modified for use in competitive events in ways that would otherwise be prohibited by the Clean Air Act.”

However, in a statement released to the media, SEMA CEO Chris Kersting argued that “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. 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.”

The EPA has not yet discussed how or if it plans to actively police the updated rules.

Race car builders often modify or remove the emissions systems from street legal vehicles to improve their performance. Many purpose-built race cars, including NASCAR Sprint Cup cars and factory drag racers like the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, are not required to have certified emissions control systems, and the proposed rules do not appear to affect their status.

SEMA Vice President of Governmental Affairs Steve McDonald says the organization wasn’t properly notified of the proposal and originally missed it due to its inclusion in what it considers to be an unrelated rules package, but that it plans to oppose any changes to the status quo through all legal means.

The public comment period on the proposal, which is primarily concerned with the fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions of large commercial vehicles, has ended. The EPA is currently reviewing submissions and expects to publish a final rule in July."


Rank VI
Founder 500

Influencer II

Napa Ca
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I'm not a fan of the EPA bUT they really seem to overreaching here.

Mad Garden Gnome

Rank V

Off-Road Ranger I

Templeton, Ca
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Ham Callsign
Ok. No more conversions. NASCAR isn't even based on a production chassis or motor anymore, much less a lot off off road racing vehicles. Terrible Herbst Truggy ...... not based on an on road vehicle.

So glad the truck I just bought is pre smog.


Rank V

Pathfinder I

Fleming Island, Fl
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Considering how many organizations this will effect there is going to be a major fight, beyond SEMA you have IMSA, SCCA, NHRA, IHRA, SCORE, and a lot more major organizations who are directly involved in the conversion of road vehicles to racing vehicles.

I will certainly agree that the EPA is over stepping their boundaries, especially when you consider all the other emission issues out there. By the nature of our hobby we should actually be supporting them to reduce issues like acid rain and other made-man problems in nature. Modifications to our vehicle have to do with capabilities with regard to ground clearance and storage. Considering the overwhelming majority of our use is at ultra low speeds or at legal road speeds, power has not been a concern for us. In fact, reducing fuel consumption is much more important than increasing power, reduced fuel consumption translates into increased driving range. So from the stand point of our hobby, this policy has little or no effect on us.

There is an ongoing movement by hot rodders to green up their hobby by better compliance with emission standards. As a long time hot rodder I fully support this effort and ask that others in the overlanding hobby support this as well by ensuring their vehicle continues to comply with the emission standards for the vehicle they own. It is in our best interest.