Is the EPA coming to a racetrack near you?

Rennie Scaysbrook | February 12, 2016
Could MotoAmerica be forced to run standard exhaust systems? If the EPA has its way, then yes.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking at making the practice of modifying a racing vehicle’s emission equipment illegal in the U.S.

It is already illegal practice in the U.S. to tamper with or modify any part of a road-registered vehicle that could have an effect on the emissions it produces, now it appears the EPA is looking at applying that rule to competition vehicles as well.

According to, the EPA’s proposal titled Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2 contains a wording that essentially means you could run foul of the law should you mess with any area of your competition motorcycle that would effect its emission output, like exhaust or intake.

Page 862 of the document states, “[The] EPA is proposing in 40 CFR 1037.601(a)(3) to clarify that the Clean Air Act does not allow any person to disable, remove, or render inoperative (i.e., tamper with) emission controls on a certified motor vehicle for purposes of competition. An existing provision in 40 CFR 1068.235 provides an exemption for non-road engines converted for competition use. This provision reflects the explicit exclusion of engines used solely for competition from the CAA definition of “non-road engine”. The proposed amendment clarifies that this part 1068 exemption does not apply for motor vehicles.”

If the wording is then ratified to include competition vehicles, it could have serious implications for motorcycle racing and the industry as a whole. It would then mean the sale of parts such as aftermarket exhausts would be illegal under U.S. law and force racing championships such as MotoAmerica to run any and all parts that come stock from the OEM in regards to emissions control, not to mention the wide reaching implications the ruling could have on amateur racing and track days.

A press release issued on February 8 by SEMA’s (Specialty Equipment Market Association) President and CEO Chris Kersting, states, “This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency (EPA), 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 release continues on, stating, “SEMA submitted comments in opposition to the regulation and met with the EPA to confirm the agency’s intentions. The EPA indicated that the regulation would prohibit conversion of vehicles into racecars (and therefore motorcycles – Ed) and make the sale of certain emissions-related parts for use on converted vehicles illegal. Working with other affected organizations, including those representing legions of professional and hobbyist racers and fans, SEMA will continue to oppose the regulation through the administrative process and will seek congressional support and judicial intervention as necessary.”

The EPA is set to publish its findings by July 2016. Needless to say, there will be a lot of people waiting on the report.

Photography by Brian J Nelson

Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook is our Road Test Editor. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A. Likes puppies and wheelies.