The EPA wants to kill the tuning industry, but you can help stop them.
Way back in 2016, a new bill was introduced called the RPM (Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports) Act. If you haven't yet heard of it, it was a bill introduced to fight the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mission of enforcing the Clean Air Act within motorsport by banning the practice of modifying street vehicles into race-only machines, including vehicles that will never see street time and would only be transported to motorsport events by trailer. If the EPA succeeds in its goals, everything from a twin-turbo Lamborghini Aventador SVJ to your slammed E46 could be deemed illegal – even if you only use such modified vehicles at events. Fortunately, the pushback has been immense, with MotorTrend reporting “approximately 1,500,000 instances of enthusiasts reaching out to lawmakers.”
To the average motorist, this may not seem like such a big deal. Let race teams race and let road cars stay on the road, right? But there's a huge knock-on effect to take into account. If only purpose-built racecars are allowed to be at the track – cars that are nothing like what you and I drive every day – then the aftermarket tuning industry would suffer severely. As part of the EPA's efforts, it wants to ban the conversion of streetcars and even ban the production, sale, and installation of performance parts. That means that if you can't find an original air filter for your 40-year-old Golf GTI and decide instead to fit a readily available aftermarket intake system, your car would be deemed illegal.
That's just one small example of the effects that the Clean Air Act could have if the EPA gets its way. The more worrying problem, however, is that vehicle personalization is an industry worth around $2 billion per year, and all the people who have built custom garages in their backyards or own large tuning companies like Underground Racing will be out of a job – permanently. The public's response has been astonishing, with the RPM Act getting more and more support in recent months. They haven't been alone, with senators from both sides of the political spectrum lending their support.
From September 15, 2021, Senators Richard Burr and Jon Test (both of which are from different political parties), have aimed to reintroduce the Motorsports bill in the US Senate. Senator Burr said: “Amateur motorsports is a unique American pastime. This bipartisan legislation provides certainty for folks who enjoy America's long-held racing tradition, in the spirit Congress intended when it passed the Clean Air Act more than 50 years ago. I'm proud to work with my colleagues on this common-sense legislation to protect the legacy of American motorsports for years to come.”
Senator Tester had similar thoughts: “Folks in the motorsport community have always relied on the freedom to modify their vehicles to race and compete. This legislation will codify that freedom into law by preventing unnecessary regulations on motorsport hobbyists, allowing amateurs and professionals alike to uphold tradition while still following the intent of the Clean Air Act.”
This is great progress, but it's not over yet. If you're interested in freedom of expression through aftermarket customization, the Performance Racing Industry urges enthusiasts to continue spreading the word on the bill and to submit more letters to lawmakers and officials, even if you have already done so. Without aftermarket tuning in America, companies from all over the world will be forced to scale down, if not shut down. The days of tuned GTIs, lowered BMWs, and twin-turbo Lamborghinis could soon be coming to an abrupt and unfortunate end, with countless individuals around the world likely to lose their jobs. The only way out is for the American people to stand together against overlegislation.