A factual update to a story we ran last week on the EPA and race cars

Last week, WUWT ran a press release from SEMA as “The EPA is out of control – now they want to ban hobby race cars”  that looked to be completely legit and accurate. It was in fact legit, coming from SEMA, but it was also inaccurate in that the SEMA press release didn’t accurately gauge the EPA proposal at all. To set the record straight, see this article in Jalopnik, partially reproduced below. – Anthony


Motor Trend, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dodge, wasn’t the only publication to weigh in on SEMA’s wild-but-plausible allegations against the Environmental Protection Agency’s “clarifying” that it can regulate track car emissions. We covered it, lots of outlets covered it, so did they. But so far MT is the only publication to have their story on the subject disappear after it was published.

Both Reddit’s r/cars and The Truth About Cars this afternoon pointed out that a Motor Trend article about the topic—one that downplayed the idea of the aftermarket parts barons at SEMA being altruistic about this issue and instead called them “paranoid and reactionary, shooting from the hip”—is now gone. Disappeared. Vanished from the face of the Internet.

“Oops! That page can’t be found,” the page now says. How mysterious!  more here:  http://jalopnik.com/what-happened-to-motor-trends-story-on-the-sema-vs-epa-1758599661

54 thoughts on “A factual update to a story we ran last week on the EPA and race cars

  1. Near as I can tell, they are still saying you can’t convert a street car to a race car. From the article:

    And it still could become technically illegal for someone to modify their car for racing in a way that doesn’t meet emissions regulations. One section in the document said the EPA “may assess a civil penalty up to $37,500 for each engine or piece of equipment in violation,” though the EPA says it cares more about these cars being used on public roads and manufacturers.

    Sounds like SEMA had it about right after all …


    • Seems that at least in California, when you take your car into be smogged, they aren’t even allowed to run the test unless the car has all of the proper smog paraphernalia in place and unmodified from what was original equipment for that model. You can’t change anything related to the smog equipment (in California).


  2. Utter madness and a complete waste of time that you have to even cover and confirm a story about race cars wrecking the planet.
    But I digress, we do live in the age of collective madness where evil humans cause “climate change”, effecting anything and everything.

    • You’ve missed the point. SEMA’s (and Jalopnik’s) concern is that EPA overreach (justified in part by the usual climate change “threat”) will effectively shut down the manufacturing of high performance engine parts and even running a race engine because it would be violating “emissions” laws.

  3. No one seems to notice that this proposed rule was published in July 2013 with a comment period that ended in August 2013. The comment period was extended a month. So any excitement and comments should have been when the public could comments could be entered, not 5 months after. You can wring your hands about any final rule that’s published, but, absent a wayback machine, you are 5 months past when anything could be done by the public.

    • @ Bob Greene “You can wring your hands about any final rule that’s published”

      Your comment brings to mind Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide, where notice of the impending destruction of the Earth had “been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years”.

      Technically, you are of course correct. It’s just that Government shouldn’t even have these powers. It should not be necessary to be eternally vigilant to have any hope of preventing continual legislative creep.

      • That’s the way our bureaucratic system works. The Government posts in registers (federal register for Feds) and it is up to you to notice it is in there and comment on it during the comment period. It helps being on the right mailing list, but to really know, you just need to read the daily federal register. And we all have time for that. If you want real fun, read final rules with EPA’s response to comments. You’ll find it was mostly a done deal when the proposed rule was published.

    • “But the plans were on display . . .”
      “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
      “That’s the display department.”
      “With a torch.”
      “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
      “So had the stairs.”
      “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
      “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

      • Its been a while since I read the books so I had to search for the actual quote

        This one caught my eye as well

        The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
        To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.
        The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.

    • Thanks. Someone didn’t turn the comments off. I don’t recall seeing comment periods extend beyond the stated date. I wonder if EPA is considering those after the October date.

  4. The epa overreach needs to be stopped in it’s tracks. Top priority is to get Congress to amend the Clean Air Act to specifically NOT apply to green house gasses. Air with extra CO2 is better for plants, and is not “dirty”. If Trump or Cruz becomes next President, there is good possibility something like this can get pushed through and become law. Please vote accordingly!

  5. It is not the objective of the EPA to be clear, hence the pages and pages of regulations and red tape, that really makes it anybodies guess what the regulations mean.

    In this way the EPA in any given circumstance and or any point in time can say the regulations mean whatever they want the regulations to mean.

    Meanwhile humans contribution is 3% of the worlds total CO2 and of that CO2 I am not sure how much is due to simple biological functions like breathing and how much is due to burning fossil fuels. In any case I’ll take a wild guess that amateur racing contributes about .000000000000000000000000001% of the worlds total CO2.

    So why would they suddenly pick on amateur racing? Because bureaucracies have no brains. Many bureaucracies have a hard time telling the difference between an elbow and a tractor. However when given a taste of power their brains shrink further in proportion to their taste for power increasing.

    • “It is not the objective of the EPA to be clear, hence the pages and pages of regulations and red tape, that really makes it anybodies guess what the regulations mean.”

      Ditto DHS, BATFE, CPSC, DoI, DoE, DoL, FCC… I have yet to see them curb a power-grab after being inundated with objections. DHS simply dispensed with the whole publishing and accepting public comments 3 years ago when they extended OPT (internships for foreign students). At least one circuit put the brakes on that one…for now.

      • It is called Tyranny in Federalist Papers #62 by Madison:

        The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood: if they be repealed or revised before they are promulg[at]ed, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow

    • Why would they pick on amateur racing? Well, in Canberra there is nothing so offensive as the sound of somebody else having fun.

    • And we are but one Executive Order from totalitarianism in all areas of life, now that the Supreme Court is on the chopping block.

    • They don’t have to be clear. However, they are not allowed to lie, and several of the statements quoted in the revised Motortrend article were clearly false. Also, the statements that they did not plan to enforce against racers stands clearly on it’s face on the fact that the activities would be made illegal. The real icing on the cake is the fact that if this was just a “clarification” the 1970 regulation would have made NASCAR illegal despite clear records saying that was not the case.

      That’s the issue I have with this administrations. Politicians shouldn’t be trusted, and tell Jedi Truths all the time. However, there is a difference between selective truth telling and outright falsehood, and this administration has repeatedly crossed the line.

  6. But catalytic converters produce CO2, so by mandating emissions controls not be tampered with doesn’t that contradict their CO2 reduction policies?

    • For road cars it’s illegal to tamper with the pollution controls almost everywhere.

      If I understand correctly, the article was talking about off-road vehicles.

      For road vehicles we still have some options. We can break the law and restore everything to normal before the pollution test. We can drive a vehicle that is old enough to not require a pollution test. We can be rich enough to buy a Corvette with 400+ horsepower. Some trucks have pretty serious horsepower. Some work can have a significant effect on horsepower, eg. blueprinting, porting and polishing, etc., and still be pollution legal. The old engines used to be crappier in terms of tolerances so you don’t get as much but you still get some. YMMV

      Where I live, 1950s and 1960s hotrods are still legal with no pollution control at all. They tend to be driven by retired people … safely and slowly. Sigh.

      The old adage still holds: Speed costs, how fast do you want to go?

      • My 2013 Turbo Volvo S6 AWD has 300 HP with 330 ft.lb. torque. A $42K auto as a left over I paid $29K it had 38 miles on it. It will also blow the doors off most domestic and foreign sedans it they play games with me, and 26 MPG in the process. I’m 73 in May and my Volvo rules on the back roads of Berks County, PA.

      • Not necessarily true that speed costs. There is a street I drive down for a few miles (residential) it’s mostly posted for 35 MPH. A couple of spots it is 25 MPH for a couple of school zones.

        I Could (in principle) drive the length of that street at 25 or 35 mph as marked. I could also drive a similar street, that happens to be posted at 50 MPH.

        My point is that in all three cases, I can do that 25, 35, 50 MPH speed down those roads, and get 50 MPG gas consumption. But in fact I can’t, because the 35/25 street has 4-way stop signs about every second block, and the 50 MPH street has traffic lights about every block.

        So on the 35/25 street, my car burns ten times as much gas; and that is just for the moving part.

        Because accelerating from rest to 25 or 35 MPH even as gently as I can, my car gets more like 4-5 MPG and I get the where I have to let up for the next 4-way stop before I can drop down to the 50 MPG state.

        My long term average MPG is right now sitting at 26.1 MPG. My long term average MPH (moving) is presently sitting at 14 MPH. I typically do 60 MPH when on freeways, and can get 45-55 MPG doing that, and I stay under posted limits on city streets. I have to hold my foot on the brakes to slow my car down to 14 MPH. It wants to go 15 MPH if I don’t put either foot on either pedal.

        It is unnecessary traffic controls that burns up gas; not the speed limits but the brain dead who should go and who should stop controls. 4-way stop signs serve NO useful purpose. Drivers can make better more intelligent decisions than 4-way stop signs.


      • Carbon Bigfoot says:
        “My 2013 Turbo Volvo S6 AWD has 300 HP with 330 ft.lb. torque.

        That be one of those vehicles that comes from one of those places in northern Europe that Burnout Bernie says ya’ll should emulate. Scan de navia. San ders’ naivety.

        Finger lickin’

      • the way the laws are written here for yearly inspections its still illegal to alter the systems even if never putting back on road.
        here its the yearly inspection laws that drive the illegality of the alteration regardless of final road worthy status of the vehicle.
        the laws about altering emissions and original equipment (thats the key wording, original equipment) are messed up.
        I was in a hurry and did not clarify nearly as well as I should have,

        and sema is also worried (I don’t have link now sorry) about how this affects the weekend racers/mudders/offroaders who drive the vehicle to the events.

    • The issue is not with cars registered for road use, so that doesn’t apply. It’s for cars removed from service on the road, to be used only for recreational purposes on private land (race tracks).

  7. EPA point is taking a certified car, modifying it for the track against certified emission standards but still driving it on the road, that is a no no. Do not use the modified car for the track and groceries. But if the vehicle is only used on the track that is fine, modify it all you want but keep it off the road.

    • That is why many street-track aftermarket PCMs have a two position switch which runs in a compliant regime when in the street position and a no holds barred non-compliant mode in the track setting.

    • NC, that’s what the PR person is saying, but that’s not what actual regulation says, which is the point of the new MotorTrend article (go to the linked article and then down to the “Update” for the new, very well researched article on the topic). The new regulation says that it’s illegal to modify a road car. PERIOD. Even if you take it off the road, unless you modify it to be undrivable on a highway (and the way they wrote it, you would practically have to take off the wheels to qualify under the revised exemption). They say that they will only enforce it on people using them on the road, but the regulation is still making it illegal to turn a street car into a racecar.

  8. Honest, let me be absolutely clear;

    “If you like your race car; you can keep your race car.”

    “If you like your race car parts supplier; you can keep your race car parts supplier.”

    “And, you’ll pay $2,500 less for it.”

    • Not sure if he did or didn’t (a lot is attributed to Carlin that he never said), but we have both rights and privileges. May all be granted the wisdom to know the difference.

  9. It’s not the fault of WUWT or of individuals if they can not keep up with the onslaught of new regulations.
    Because, the regulations do not conform to any rational or logical framework. And are therefore almost random in their appearance and implementation. Hence they are piecemeal and numerous and confusing.
    The every expanding state has no desire to rationalize it’s implementation of regulations and taxes, for to do so would make their size, reach and cost immediately apparent.
    Therefore we have ended up with a system where even legislators, accountants and legals experts themselves can not determine how many laws or taxes exist or where they could all be found!!

  10. “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” I think that adage can safely be retired as obsolete in our times. With this administration, everything can be attributed to malice.

    • Agree, and it might also be vindictive as the rules are not uniformly applied. Just look, Jon Corzine former Governor got away with stealing his clients $$$$.

  11. Well, the next step would have been to ban ordinary car owners from doing their own maintenance. They actually tried to do that with motorcycles in the UK. Fortunately it was blocked. The objective is to turn all of us into pure consumers who have to rely on big business for our every need. At least the Greens should agree with us on this one, that self-sufficiency is empowering, slavish dependence on corporates is bad.

  12. 6M new cars in are sold in the US each year. For sure less than 1 in 10,000 is converted to a race car, probably far less, closer to 1:50,000. The average car gets driven about an hour a day. From my experience the average active race car gets driven maybe 30 hours a year, and most are not active. This is like regulating Christmas lights. The arm of regulation shall extend into every facet, no matter how narrow on inconsequential, because the goal is to grow the agency and its power.

  13. Is anyone else confused on the point in this thread? For the slower of us, a definitive statement should be at the end or somewhere: The EPA is going after our race cars or it is not.

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