The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is traditionally thought of as an organization that supports automobiles.  But some of the areas it works in also apply to motorcycles.  And a recently filed SEMA amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the case of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) versus Gear Box Z (GBZ) has applicability to motorcycles as well.

EPA says no modification of street certified vehicles

The issue concerns the EPA’s position that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not permit a motor vehicle certified for street use to be altered for competition use only.

The EPA’s first controversial interpretation of the CAA came as a result of a 2015 draft rulemaking notice.  But after a SEMA-led public outcry, the EPA rescinded its position.

In its latest move in the GBZ trial, SEMA says that the EPA once again making the same claim.  EPA is once again contending that once a vehicle is certified as a street vehicle, it cannot be converted into a racing vehicle even if that vehicle is trailered to the track and is never driven on public roads.

According to SEMA’s amicus curiae brief, SEMA argues that the CAA does not apply to certified vehicles used exclusively on the track.  They say that “the agency’s interpretation breaks from the plain language of the CAA, the legislative history, and EPA’s regulations and guidance.”

EPA changes course

Interestingly, SEMA notes that the EPA’s latest position contradicts the EPA’s longstanding guidance and regulations.  In the past, the EPA has said that it “has no interest in vehicles that begin their existence as normal, EPA-certified production vehicles used on public roads and are then permanently converted to sanctioned competition-use only vehicles.”


The EPA contends it is illegal to modify vehicles certified for street use.

It’s somewhat concerning that the EPA would take this position again.  Especially in light of a  2019 bipartisan bill that confirms that the CAA does not apply to competition vehicles.  Unfortunately, that bill (H.R. 5434 — 116th Congress: RPM Act of 2019) still sits in a House committee.  If passed the RPM Act of 2019 will confirm that it is legal to market and install racing equipment into vehicles that will be used exclusively for racing.

Coming to trial

The GBZ case is set for hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.  And the court has agreed to hear the case after the EPA provides its response to SEMA’s amicus curiae brief.

This is an important case for all who prepare and race motorcycles (and cars) for competition use only.  If you support competition-only vehicles, you should let your voice be heard.  SEMA provides a webpage to help you have your position heard (link).

What do you think?

What do you think of the EPA’s latest contention?  Do you think that once a vehicle is certified for the street, it should be illegal to modify it?  Even if the machine will not be used on the street and solely for competition?  Let us know in the comments below.

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