From the pre-Show seminars and special events, to the Grand Opening Breakfast with Rick Mears and Jeff Gordon, and the product debuts and unveilings on the Show floor, the race industry’s premier Trade Show was filled with education, networking and sales.
“This year’s show has been awesome,” said Bryce Mulvey of CP-Carillo in Irvine, California. CP-Carillo was among the more than 1,200 companies exhibiting at the 2016 PRI Show. “There’s been more foot traffic than ever,” said Mulvey. “It’s great to see all of our customers, and we look forward to the show every single year.”
Ashley Garrett of U.S. Legend Cars International in Harrisburg, North Carolina, agreed. “It’s been a great show. The attendance has been off the charts – even from last year, which was great. We had a lot of traffic and a lot of success. We had more domestic customers this year, while in the past it’s been more of the overseas market.”
Nonetheless, Garret noted, “We also had some of our foreign dealers from Japan, England and Ireland here that we don’t typically see during the year.”
International attendees, in fact, make up a significant group at the annual event. Attendees, who come from more than 70 countries, are often drawn to the world-renowned conferences that take place in conjunction with the Show.
Phil Pagen from Track Sport Engines in New Zealand, for example, attends PRI primarily for the two-day Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC), which is held just prior to the PRI Show’s official opening day.
“We’re here (at AETC) just to get some ideas and hear what people have to say,” said Pagen. “The presentations are good, and there are a lot of interesting questions. There’s no place else for us to go and meet these types of people and make these contacts. This is another level for us.”
Pagen and the Track Sport Engines team stays for the PRI Show afterward, meeting with exhibitors and looking for new products. “It’s a big week for us,” he said.
In addition to brisk business on the Trade Show floor, the 2016 PRI Show featured:
RPM Update: The SEMA government affairs team updated attendees on the status of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act. The bill was introduced in Congress in 2016 to clarify that it is legal under federal law to modify the emissions system of a street vehicle for exclusive racing purposes. While optimistic about working with the incoming administration and the new Congress, the SEMA team nonetheless urged racing professionals - especially business owners - to continue reaching out to lawmakers when the bill is reintroduced for consideration in 2017.
Hot Rodders of Tomorrow (HROT) Engine Challenge: Showgoers watched in awe throughout the week as students from all over the country competed for the quickest time disassembling and reassembling a small block Chevy engine. As they twisted, turned and bolted, Team Comp Cams, led by instructor Chris Overfelt, bested the competition with the fastest average time of 17 minutes and 43.3 seconds. Also of note was Team Fragola, which placed third and received the fastest perfect engine run time.
Seminars: Complimentary seminars featuring numerous industry experts took place throughout the Show. Many were technical in nature and touched on engines and performance, while others were more general and focused on digital marketing and eCommerce. Among the most popular sessions was Corey Perlman’s seminar titled “Social Media Overdrive.” Attendee Stephanie Leonard of Southsidemachine.com in Akron, Ohio, found several helpful pointers from the seminar that she planned to implement when she returns to her business. “As a small company trying to use social media to get our products out there, it’s really made sense to use social media to drive customers to our website instead of just showing new products or describing what we have going on, but go here to buy them,” she said.
Additional recaps from the 2016 PRI Show, including a photo gallery, can be found at www.performanceracing.com/tradeshow.
Showgoers and organizers are now looking ahead to the 2017 PRI Show, set for December 7–9 in Indianapolis, Indiana.