What Do You Really Know About SFI....

By George Klass (4-06-10)

What Is the SFI Foundation, Inc.?

The SFI Foundation, Inc. (SFI) is a non-profit organization established to issue and administer standards for specialty/performance automotive and racing equipment.

What do the letters "SFI" Stand for?

SFI was originally a foundation run by SEMA, the automotive aftermarket trade organization. The letters "SFI" stood for "SEMA Foundation, Inc." Although SFI is now completely independent from SEMA, the Foundation has retained the name SFI Foundation, Inc. but the "S" no longer means SEMA.

Who Uses SFI Standards?

Manufacturers of equipment are the primary users of SFI standards. Some standards are adopted as part of the rules of race sanctioning organizations. Ultimately, the consumer benefits from the program as it establishes recognized levels of performance or quality for a product.

How is the SFI Standards Program Funded?

SFI, as a non-profit corporation, has three primary sources of income.  The first is participation fees from manufacturers who certify their products to SFI Quality Assurance Specifications.  There are one-time fees, and are very small.  The second is grants from motorsports sanctioning bodies that incorporate SFI Quality Assurance Specifications within their rules and regulations.  These grants are based on the size of the sanctioning body and its schedule of events, and the various SFI programs and services provided.  The third is SFI's primary source of income, which comes from the sale of its Conformance Labels to manufacturers.  Were SFI to be deprived of this source of income, it works a severe financial hardship on SFI, and it would be unable to carry out its mission to the motorsports industry and racing community.  The cost to the manufacturer is based on quantity, and the expenses involved in a particular spec's development and administration.

There is also a fourth source of income, which is the SFI Test Laboratory in Escondido, California.  This provides approximately 15% of SFI's income.

How is a Standard Initiated?

The SFI Technical Committee initiates the specification process, typically at the request of the affected industry or race sanctioning body.

How is participation obtained?

SFI encourages industry-wide participation in the drafting of specifications. However, once a standard is enacted, participation by the manufacturer is strictly voluntary.

What about Enforcement?

Typically, there are policing provisions through contractual or licensing agreements whereby SFI may inspect the records and/or equipment of a manufacturer in order to ascertain that the product involved meets SFI Specs. Once a manufacturer has voluntarily committed to participating in the program, it must comply with the specifications in all respects.

How are the specs used in Racing?

When adopted as part of the rules of a race sanctioning body, enforcement is entirely up to that organization. The manufacturer then provides the racer with product that is in compliance with the specs enforced by the sanctioning body.

The Beginning....

    In 1963, a group of racing products manufacturers formed an association known as the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association, or SEMA. Original organizers deemed the central purpose of the association to be the development of products specifications for use by the suppliers of equipment used in racing. The products performance specs would be among the chief functions of SEMA.

    In those early days, SEMA's pioneers struggled with the development and implementation of various product specifications. Many "unknowns" faced the innovative entrepreneurs in areas of design criteria, testing and promulgation of specifications. But their dedication to the industry and racing won out and it wasn't long before the specifications were accepted and formed a part of sanctioning body rule books.

    Eventually, if certain products on a vehicle didn't "meet SEMA specs," the owner could be denied participating in a motorsports event. A specs program for the performance products industry was born and has continued for many years as a result of the determination of the founders of SEMA.

The Specs Program Becomes More Specialized

    Approximately a decade after its inception, SEMA turned its attention and resources to the increasingly important matters of legislation and governmental regulation, marketing projects, the SEMA Show and various other activities common to a professional trade association serving the interests of an ever-changing, progressive industry. The specs program became the responsibility of the SEMA Service Bureau, an organization whose operations were exclusively in the field of product specifications and testing programs.

    In time, the need for yet a more sophisticated specifications program became apparent. A new organization, the SEMA Foundation, Inc., or SFI, was formed to replace the Service Bureau, chartered to organize and manage an expanded industry specs program. That name has been shortened to SFI Foundation, Inc.

SFI spins-off from SEMA

    Although a proud beginning, SFI now operates as a foundation independent from SEMA, yet dependent on all segments of the industry it serves, both for funding and participation. SFI maintains its own managerial staff and oversees technical committees. The Foundation is funded by companies which voluntarily participate in the specs program, along with financial support from member sanctioning bodies. As a result of this support, SFI has developed programs for almost eighty different products used by manufacturers, motorsports groups, and consumers worldwide.

    SFI has been an independent foundation apart from its parent association, SEMA, now called the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association, for many years and no longer stands for SEMA Foundation, Inc. SFI currently provides an expansive specs program because years ago a handful of manufacturers decided to "do something" to improve the quality of their industry's products.

The SFI Foundation, Inc. offers two levels of participation for sanctioning bodies: membership and affiliation. The first level is the Affliate Program which allows a sanctioning body to use and include SFI specifications in its rules. A sanctioning body must have a formal agreement with SFI at this basic level in order to cite the SFI copyrighted standards in its rules.

There is also an advanced level of participation in SFI known as the Member Sanctioning Body Program. In addition to using existing SFI specs, other services available to a member organization include the development of new application-specific standards, technical personnel training and certification, and on-track incident response training.

Here is a partial list of SFI Member and Affiliate organizations, from around the world, starting with the drag racing sanctioning bodies and organizations:

American Drag Racing League (ADRL)

American Hot Rod Association (AHRA)

All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA)

Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA, Australia)

Battle of the Imports (BOTI)

Drag Racing Verniging eXplosion (Netherlands)

Federation Internationale de I’Automobile – Drag Racing (FIA – Drag Racing, France)

Finnish Hot Rod Association (FHRA, Finland)

International Hot Rod Association (IHRA)

National Hot Rod Association (NHRA)

National Jet Racing Association (NJRA)

National Muscle Car Association (NMCA)

National Mustang Racers Association (NMRA)

New Zealand Drag Racing Association (NZDRA, New Zealand)

Outlaw Street Madness (OSM)

Pacific Street Car Association (PSCA)

Santa Pod Racers Club (SPRC, England)

Swedish Automobile Sport Federation Dragracing Committee (Sweden)

Svensk Drag Racing (SDR, Sweden)

U.S. Hot Rod Association (USHRA)

Vintage Racing Associates (Goodguys/VRA)

A partial list of other SFI Members and Affiliates in other forms of motorsports include:

American Power Boat Association (APBA)

American Late Model Series (ALMS)

ASA Late Model Series (ASALMS)

Alaska Sports Car club (ASCC)

Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA)

Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS, Canada)

Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS, Australia)

Diesel Sport Productions, Thunder in Muncie (DSP)

East Coast Timing Association (ECTA)

Formula Drift Holdings, LLC (Formula D)

International Council of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC, U.S. & Canada)

International Kart Federation (IKF)

International Motor Contest Association (IMCA)

Indy Racing League (IRL)

Illinois Tractor Pulling Association (ITPA)

Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series (LODBRS)

Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League (LOPPL)

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS)

Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS)

Mid-America Racing Series (MARS)

Monster Truck Racing Association (MTRA)

Motorsport New Zealand (MSNZ, New Zealand) 

National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR)

National Association of Diesel Motorsports (NADM)

National Association of Speedway Racing (NASR, Australia)

National Dirt Racers Association (NDRA, Australia)

National Jet Boat Association (NJBA)

National Mud Racing Organization (NMRO)

National Off Road Racing Series (NORRS)

National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA)

Norwegian Automobile Sport Federation (NBF, Norway)

Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pulling Association (OTTPA)

Oval Racing Council International (ORCI, United Kingdom)

Quarter Midgets of America (QMA)

Rally America

SAE Collegiate Design Series (SAE CDS)

Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

Southern California Timing Association (SCTA)

Southern Drag Boat Association (SDBA)

Speedway New Zealand (SNZ)

Supercross (SX)

Swedish Automobile Sport Federation (SASF/SBF, Sweden)

United States Auto Club (USAC)

U.S. Pullers Association (USPA)

Vintage Motorsports Council (VMC)

World Karting Association (WKA)

World of Outlaws Late Model Series (WoO LMS)

World of Outlaws Sprint Series (WoO SPRINT)

As I mentioned, this is only a partial list.  And you thought that SFI was only involved in drag racing?  Not true.  SFI is involved in all forms of motorsports, and with only one objective.  To insure that racing organizations have an avenue that they can go to in order to test and certify race related components, to create minimum safety standards (the Specs program), and to help keep racers alive, world wide.


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