Race Cars Are Doomed

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Race Cars Are Doomed

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Race Cars are Doomed Because Uncle

Race Cars are Doomed Because Uncle

By Eric Peters

Eric Peters Autos

February 18, 2016

Uncle does not want you to modify your car.

Even if it never gets driven on the street.

This is new.

But first, some background.

Uncle as manifested by the Environmental Protection Agency has long decreed that any modification to a street-driven car is illegal (under the Clean Air Act) if the modification entails the removal, disabling or defeating of any of the cars factory-installed pollution control equipment. This encompasses every car built since the very first emissions devices were installed in cars back in the mid-late 1960s.

It goes even farther than that, actually.

Its illegal to replace any factory part or system that could affect the cars emissions with an aftermarket part not approved by the EPA even if the cars emissions arent negatively affected.

Even if they are reduced.

This happens more than youd think.

Factory parts are of necessity usually compromises. A good example being a vehicles exhaust system. It may cost too much to fit the car with tube headers, so cast iron manifolds are used instead. These may not flow as well as tube headers, decreasing the engines efficiency. Replacing the manifolds with aftermarket headers and the factory el cheapo catalytic converters with aftermarket high-performance ones not only makes the car perform better, it lowers the emissions.

Its still illegal unless the headers and converters are EPA approved.

This has placed an onerous burden on the aftermarket parts business, which has to spend a great deal of its own money getting a given part approved before it can be legally sold. The costs associated are, of course, passed on to customers. Its why a set of aftermarket headers that used to cost under $100 now costs $500.

Its also why its illegal believe it or not to retrofit an older car with a newer cars engine. Even though the newer cars engine emits far less pollution. For example, it is not EPA-kosher to take, say, 1975 Camaro originally equipped with a carbureted 350 without computer controls and a shitty pellet-style catalytic converter (and no oxygen sensor) pull it all and replace it with a computer-controlled, fuel-injected GM crate engine and modern honeycomb cats (which all modern cars have) and 02 sensors unless everything has the necessary prior EPA (and California Air Resources Board, a kind of mini-me EPA) exemptions and approvals. Even if the cars emissions are a fourth of what they were before the swap.

Yes, its true.

You are also not allowed to have a muffler shop touch the cars emissions equipment, either. Such as having them remove your cars catalytic converters. And if the shop does do that, the shop can expect to be SWAT-raided by EPA goons.

None of that is news.

Its been The Law for decades (thank Tricky Dick).