NASCAR legend Richard Petty fighting to save racing industry from the EPA’s ‘woke’ actions

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Racing legend Richard Petty is teaming up with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) to support a bill that would shield the racing car industry from the EPA’s brutish emissions enforcement actions.

Petty is very concerned about the future of car racing given recent signals from the Environmental Protection Agency. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is attempting to keep racing alive despite the EPA’s climate change witch-hunt that is extremely anti-racing in nature.

Production vehicles modified for motor racing were not explicitly excluded from the original Clean Air Act and the oversight of the EPA. The agency, however, has permitted professional and amateur racers to operate outside its regulations since its inception and a 1990 amendment sought to clarify the exemption.

A non-binding policy memorandum that was issued by the EPA in 2020 regarding emissions system tampering appeared to support the position, stating that “this Policy does not address EPA-certified motor vehicles that are converted into a vehicle used solely for competition motorsports, nor aftermarket parts purportedly manufactured or sold for that purpose.”

“The EPA is overstepping its jurisdiction and penalizing small motorsports parts businesses,” Petty told Business Wire. “The RPM Act is essential to the racing industry and protecting the careers of young racers all over the country. During most of my racing career, my fellow NASCAR drivers and I competed in racecars that started out as street-legal vehicles.”

The EPA has now indicated that it is coming after racing via a recent crackdown on several manufacturers and sellers of parts that have been misused by a number of customers in vehicles that were driven on the street. The agency claimed in court that there is no “exemption” for competition vehicles and that it is a “hypothetical” idea that there is. That sentiment seems to portend that racing is on the EPA’s hit list at some point.

“There wouldn’t have been any NASCAR or any cup racing if that kind of rule had been in effect in 1949,” Petty remarked to Fox News Autos in an interview.

The interview noted that the “cars used in NASCAR’s early years were based on street-legal vehicles, as are those used in many racing series today.”

“They take a stock car and make a race car out of the thing,” Petty explained.

SEMA represents the aftermarket parts industry and has worked to draft the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports, or RPM Act, with lawmakers which would codify an exemption for converted race cars. The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC). It was introduced last year but has stalled in both houses.

“I am proud to represent a district with deep ties to motorsports and I understand the vital role the sport plays supporting local jobs in our area,” McHenry said to Fox News Autos in an interview. “The RPM Act will help to ensure enthusiasts of the sport in North Carolina and across the country can continue the time-honored tradition of modifying stock vehicles for competitive racing.”

SEMA attorney David Goch says the EPA’s disingenuous actions are rippling through the $2 billion racing car parts industry, according to Fox News.

Small businesses with tight margins and little legal expertise are extremely worried over the EPA’s looming authority. Goch claims that some of the business owners are being bullied into settlements that can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more, and that one shutting down can negatively affect an entire local racing community and its associated businesses.

“It’s sort of like throwing a pebble in a big pond or something. There’s a big ripple in the middle, but all this stuff goes way, way, way out,” Petty commented concerning the situation.

Brent Leivestad, the owner of PFI Speed, which is a tuning shop located in Fort Lupton, Colorado, was fined $18,000 by the EPA in 2021 for selling a racing part the EPA considers an emission “defeat device” that is illegal if used by the buyer on the street. He is fighting the expedited settlement that was offered to him by the EPA. It would ban his business from performing future modifications affecting emissions control systems.

“It would put us out of business,” Leivestad charged.

Petty claims that street-legal cars cannot hold up to the rigors of competition.

“We couldn’t go racing with a stock car, it’s just impossible to even think about,” he remarked.

He’s angry at the EPA over its treacherous actions and is worried that fewer spectators will spend money at the local level where many pros get their start.

“I don’t know what they’re trying to prove,” Petty concluded.

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