US District Court declines EPA racecar ruling

SEMA says the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona has declined to make a ruling in the lawsuit between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Gear Box Z. Inc. (GBZ). According to SEMA, while pursuing GBZ for tampering allegations, the EPA made statements in its court filings that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow a motor vehicle to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition and that equipment installed to make the conversion is illegal. SEMA challenged what it says is a “flawed interpretation” of the CAA first made by the EPA in 2015 and repeated in the court filing.

The court ruled that the EPA produced evidence that the subject products sold by GBZ were being used on highway vehicles, with no evidence of use on motor sports vehicles. Therefore, lacking evidence of the converting of road vehicles to dedicated race cars, which would have necessitated the court address the issue, the court declined to rule on whether the CAA disallows conversions of street vehicles to dedicated racing machines.

While not settling the street-to-racecar conversion issue, SEMA said its filing of the amicus brief was impactful for several reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates the need for the U.S. Congress to enact the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” (RPM Act), bi-partisan legislation to clarify that it is legal to make such conversions and to produce, market and install racing equipment. Secondly, SEMA says the court’s opinion offered “some favourable language” by court confirming that it is the EPA’s burden to produce evidence that emissions-related equipment is being used illegally on highway vehicles when making such a claim.

SEMA said it will “continue to work tirelessly to settle the EPA’s overreach by passing the RPM Act.”

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