Friday, February 12, 2016

Coffee Brake: The End of Fun?

Coffee Brake: In case you've been living under a rock pile of used r-compound slicks, you might have heard about the EPA's proposed regulation of emissions from racecars.  Of course this caused an uproar from everyone including Jalopnik, Autoblog, FoxNews, and so on...but the guys at SEMA mobilized their legion of followers to quickly reach the 100,000 signatures needed for an official response from the White House. 

However, there is more to the story than it seems, because a number of sites are now claiming that the whole "banning racecars" thing was just made up and that the EPA's rules have not changed.  Motortrend (a wholly owned subsidiary of Dodge???) published an article calling SEMA reactionary and paranoid -- but the article was pulled from the web with no explanation.  Additionally, a number of outlets (including snopes, and Road&Track) are claiming that the initial response was overkill and even an EPA spokesperson tried to get the pitchforks put back in the barn -- specifically with the statement to R&T:  
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, a later clarification added: It is still illegal to tamper with or defeat the emission control systems of motor vehicles.

 In the course of selecting cases for enforcement, the EPA has and will continue to consider whether the tampered vehicle is used exclusively for competition. The EPA remains primarily concerned with cases where the tampered vehicle is used on public roads, and more specifically with aftermarket manufacturers who sell devices that defeat emission control systems on vehicles used on public roads.

Technically the EPA's mandate is to reduce pollution in the air -- this includes any/all sources, including things that (as small a contributor they might be) we might otherwise consider recreational activities.  It would be a shame to ban modified engines in 24 Hrs of LeMons, but it was similarly a shame when leaded gas was removed from the market and we had to retard the ignition in our classic vehicles...but you can't argue that the world isn't a better place without the health issues associated with children's exposure to lead.  I think for the near term we can argue that racing is such a small contribution to pollution that it will live under the radar, but once electric vehicles rule the road and solar panels are fixed to every might be another story.  Race your supercharged V8s while you can, I guess.

Comments?  Thoughts?


  1. Watch out, they're coming for you're weed-whacker (which you cleverly re-purposed as a portable margarita mixer).

  2. oh for f*cks sake. SEMA is full of shi*t. the fauxification of the world marches on apparently.

  3. Has anyone ever done a census of race cars? How many are there? I read the Snopes page, and I must admit that I am still unclear about whether the EPA did not did not give themselves the option to prevent removing emission gear from a car being converted for competition.

    My gut tells me that if the EPA wanted to get max benefit out of an action, they could go after: lawnmowers, weed whackers, chain saws, leaf blowers, and two-stroke snowmobiles.

    1. Gee, here I go answering my own questions again:

      First, I guess the EPA always had the power to condemn a conversion; they just choose not to enforce it (so far....)

      Regarding a census of race cars, the Arstechnica link above provides this estimate:

      "There are roughly 28,500 racing-licensed members of the Sports Car Club of America and about 35,000 licensed competitors in the National Hot Rod Association, the two biggest sanctioning bodies in the amateur and semi-pro racing business in America by far. Meanwhile, there are about 253 million vehicles on our roads. Even if every one of those racers had a converted race car—and this would never be a 1:1 license-to-car ratio—it would net a roughly 4,000:1 ratio of road cars used almost every day versus race cars. And race cars are not used every day. They're used only on certain weekends and only during the racing season."

  4. Congress downed the bill this was not n...also keeping us from integrity in the climate talks.

  5. There are roughly 100 million cows in America. Each cow produces about 200 litres of methane per day, which, as a greenhouse gas, is 23 time more powerful than carbon dioxide. It is roughly equivalent to the amount of pollution a car puts out each day. So, do you want to start the petition to install catalytic converters on these animals, or should I?

  6. If you drive your race car on the street, it needs all of its emissions equipment. If you don't drive your race car on the street, have at it. Clear enough? SEMA is just trying to tap into the NRA-style paranoia.


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