The USMA met with U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry at Carolina Speedway, a 4/10 mile oval dirt track located in Gastonia, North Carolina. After touring the track and meeting with track promoters we sat down with the Congressman to discuss the RPM Act, his thoughts on grassroots racing, and learn a little more about the man who represents North Carolina's 10th District.
USMA: You have championed one of racing's most important pieces of legislation for motorsports, so first and foremost, thank you for your efforts to enact the RPM Act. I think most now know about the EPA regulation issue, but can you tell us where we are at today with the RPM Act, and what can those of us in the racing industry be doing to further support the Bill?
McHenry: We need to get the RPM Act passed so that the EPA can't come back with this overreaching regulation again. Race track owners, drivers, crew members, business owners and fans should all be communicating with their Member of Congress and encouraging them to sponsor the bill. Even beyond this particular bill, it's important that all elected officials are informed about the racing activity in their districts, especially at the grassroots levels. In my experience, when you have elected officials actually meeting people like we are doing here at Carolina Speedway today, it can make a big difference in knowing who to turn to when things come up, like the recent EPA issue.
USMA: You have been a long time champion for motorsports in your time in Congress. We all know about the top NASCAR teams calling North Carolina home, but in your district there is a lot of grassroots racing activity. What are your thoughts on the importance of Grassroots Racing in particular, not only in your district, but across the country?
McHenry: I've found grassroots racers to be the most passionate and where some very real people are making very real impacts. Many of them have full time jobs outside of racing, but place their hard earned money back into the local economy through the products and services they consume. In addition, the local tracks provide great family entertainment that is still affordable. I'd add that there are many small businesses in racing and it's important that we keep regulations off of them or they will struggle to survive. Most race teams and tracks and the businesses that rely on them are not able to hire big lawyers and political consultants. That's why this recent EPA issue is so important. My Dad owned a lawn service that put my two sisters, two brothers and myself through college. I think about that when these types of crazy regulations come up. When decisions are made inside the bubble of Washington DC, without input and understanding from the folks that are actually living in the business, it can have far reaching negative impacts.
USMA: Many people look to racing and think it's kind of a crazy sport. But for many of us, we look to Washington DC and think that game is a bit crazy as well. What inspired you to get into public service?
McHenry: I keep a pretty simple philosophy, I want to make a difference. Seeing my own family, neighbors and community having greater opportunities is the inspiration. I hope that in my time in office I can leave the country better than I found it and along the way make some positive changes. While also stopping changes that have serious consequences.