RPM Act Gets New Push To Protect Modified Cars

Apr 10, 2021 3 min read
RPM Act Gets New Push To Protect Modified Cars

Although it's been around for several years, the RPM Act is gaining renewed interest.


The RPM Act was first drafted up after the EPA's Clean Air Act sought to make the conversion of production cars into race cars illegal. For most of us, that particular scenario isn't going to impact what we do with ours cars, but it's in between the lines that has most automotive enthusiasts shaken. Because of the EPA's new push in this direction, the SEMA-backed RPM Act seems to be more important to people than it has been over the last several years, so let's break it down.

Watch some modern muscle cars duke it out on the track.

First, why would it matter to the average enthusiasts if people can't convert production cars to race cars? That's pretty easy, because if you have an 'off-road' component on your car, which can include everything from certain rear view mirrors to exhaust headers, your car could very easily be classified as a race car, depending on your state.

As it stands, not many states outside of California are going to tell you that you can't drive a modified car with certain on their roads, but this can very easily become a federal issue, as we've seen with many things over the last few months. I see things like the Clean Air Act as a catalyst to reclassify what a street car vs race car is. Thus the danger of the Clean Air Act to the average car collector and enthusiast. Few amongst us have totally stock cars, even a cold air intake or aftermarket muffler could potentially lump you in with car owners at risk.

Another scenario would be going directly after the aftermarket parts manufactures, which would shake the whole industry to the core. Think of all the parts you've bought labeled 'Not for use in California' or 'Legal in 49 states', and you'll get a pretty good idea of where this could go. I've bought interior parts labeled this way, and while we're talking more so performance parts, I'm deep in the mindset that this won't only effect race cars, and only effect high-performance modifications like custom ground camshafts or blowers.

Maybe I'm doing mental gymnastics to connect the dots, or maybe it's the years of seeing this slippery slope of damage the federal government can do to the automotive world, but either way, I'm not the only one with antennas up on this one. Which is why there's a surge of interest in the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act.

It seems like this has been introduced by someone in the House of Representatives every year, and it's had very little momentum every year. The act has had bi-partisan support in the past, but the current wave of politicians seems more focused on things like the Green New Deal and shutting down pipelines. So it seems unlikely that the RPM Act would get much support, just from the optics alone. It's pretty easy to conclude that the act would get less support than ever, which also makes me wonder why it was pushed more aggressively when it did have bi-partisan support.

My criticism of the slow progress of politics and politicians scared of optics aside, something has to be done to nip this in the bud. We hope the recent 72 bi-partisan co-sponsors (with a surprising amount of representatives in strict emissions states) continue to push for the RPM Act, and pull in more support to actually get some movement this session. It would also be helpful to write the bill to be more inclusive of other vehicles, besides just sanctioned race cars - we need more protection than a loophole for race cars, which is how the act has been drafted in the past.

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