Paul Van Woensel has a clear message for Congress: protect Americans’ right to convert our street cars into competition-only racecars. And he isn’t alone. Van Woensel, president of Engine & Performance Warehouse in Denver, recently returned from Washington, D.C. where he joined dozens of other racing industry representatives at the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) bi-annual Washington Rally. While there, Van Woensel met with Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Rep. Diana DeGette about the issues that matter most to the amateur racing community – including the ultimate need to pass a bill that would protect the future of racing.
Van Woensel is calling on the Colorado lawmakers to help pass the bipartisan Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act. The bill is needed to confirm that it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a racecar used exclusively at the track. The RPM Act addresses any doubts regarding regulation of racecars and gives the public and racecar industry much-needed certainty regarding how the Clean Air Act is applied.
“It’s critical that our lawmakers listen to the tens of thousands of racers out there and all those who work in the amateur racing industry,” said Van Woensel. “We need Congress to pass the RPM Act to ensure that our racing way of life can’t be targeted for enforcement.”
Van Woensel and others in the amateur racing community are currently operating under a cloud of uncertainty. In July 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule that would prohibit the conversion of emissions-certified vehicles into racecars and make it illegal to sell any emissions-related parts for those cars. Once the EPA’s actions were detected by the racing industry and community, Members of Congress were mobilized.
With pressure from Congress, the EPA backed down on the specific regulation. However, the agency maintains that it has the authority to regulate street vehicles modified exclusively for the track and the businesses that make those products – despite Congressional intent.
“It’s very difficult to run a business when you don’t know for sure how the government views your services and products,” said Van Woensel. “This kind of uncertainty creates instability in the marketplace and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. The RPM Act is the only way to completely remove this threat to racing and bring clarity to our industry and community.”
Without congressional intervention, it remains unclear if the racing community and racing parts manufacturers are at risk of enforcement. Left unresolved, the economic impact could be severe. Current retail sales of racing products make up a $1.4 billion annual market. The specialty equipment automotive aftermarket employs about one million Americans across all 50 states. Engine and Performance Warehouse is a world wide distributer of stock replacement and performance engine parts with 13 distribution centers across the United States.
Van Woensel also has a request for his fellow racers, racing fans, and industry stakeholders – to tell Sens. Bennet and Gardner and Rep. DeGette to support the RPM Act by visiting www.sema.org/rpm.