GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The King is holding court about auto emissions and racing to the defense of his industry in the face of environmental regulation.
The King, of course, is Richard Petty, the iconic driver of stock cars who lives in Randolph County. The issue is a concern by officials that the Environmental Protection Agency will crack down on items that are used to transform a street-type Mustang or Camaro into the super-charged race cars you watch on NASCAR tracks each weekend.
Petty, who won seven championships and twice as many races as anyone else in his Dodges and Plymouths, is becoming a lobbyist of sorts to support a bill called the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act – or, cleverly, the RPM act for short – that is being pushed by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Denver) and Republican Senator Richard Burr of Winston-Salem.
Petty’s involvement, first reported by Fox Auto News, is because the EPA’s Clean Air Act does not exempt NASCAR from the emission rules for street vehicles, although there has been an allowance for devices that could affect that.
The EPA recently has started to crack down on those who make such parts because they have found their way into street vehicles. One company in Colorado was fined for selling unsanctioned equipment, Fox Auto News reported.
The RPM bill would exempt NASCAR from street rules, and that’s where Petty comes in, working with the Specialty Equipment Market Association. “There wouldn’t have been any NASCAR or any cup racing if that kind of rule had been in effect in 1949,” Petty told Fox News Autos.
His reference was to the evolution of NASCAR from street vehicles to 700-plus-horsepower machines that reach speeds well above 200 miles per hour. Attaining that level of power requires engines that aren’t restricted by devices that can strip out noxious exhaust. If you’ve been to race, you know what that’s like.
McHenry represents a district outside Charlotte that is at the heart of NASCAR. Most – if not all – of the 17 full-time teams on the circuit are based in North Carolina, mostly around Charlotte.
McHenry told Fox News Autos that the RPM Act, which is stalled in both houses of Congress, “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.”