A successful week-long run of motorsports business activity concluded December 1 with the final day of the 2012 PRI Trade Show at the Orange County Convention in Orlando, Florida. Approximately 37,500 racing business people from all 50 states and 72 countries attended this year’s show to get up-to-date with the latest in racing technology courtesy of the 1000 motorsports companies introducing new lines in racing products, machining equipment, motorsport engineering solutions and more.
“A lot of racing people throughout the world look at the PRI Trade Show as a place where they can take a measurement of the racing industry right now,” said John Kilroy, PRI Trade Show producer. “Anyone that participated in this show, as an exhibitor or a buyer, has to be impressed with the amount of business that went on here. That says something very good about the state of the racing industry today.”
An expanded Race Industry Week led into this year’s PRI Trade Show. Several major events were among 35 conferences and seminars that ran in conjunction with the show beginning November 26.
The Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC), Claude Rouelle’s Optimum G Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Seminar, The Race Track Business Conference, the International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) annual Congress, the Winning The eRace Digital Marketing Conference, Winning Setup Strategies for Dirt Late Models, and the FAST EFI University training course on electronic fuel injection in racing applications all took place during this year’s Race Industry Week.
Scores of attendees took advantage of both the conferences and the show under one roof during the week.
“There’s enough information to be gained at the AETC and then at the PRI Show in three or four days that would take you a year to get on your own,” said Jud Masingill, of the School of Automotive Machinists. “All of the people that need to be here are here—all the suppliers, all the new parts are brought out. We build hardcore race engines and PRI’s Machinery Row is our Disneyland, it’s just incredible. The new guys come in here and see equipment they didn’t know existed. All the newest stuff is here. It’s just awesome.”
Despite it being a transitional year for the show, it proved to be business as usual for Race Industry Week and the PRI Show, known as the three biggest business days in racing.
“I like the fact that even with SEMA buying PRI that it’s still the same show that’s been built up over the last 25 years,” said SPEED TV personality Robin Miller. “I love all the innovation, and the energy in this place is great. You can see that for a lot of these people, racing is their life.”
Exhibitor Phil Rasmussen, of Premier Performance, may have phrased it best: “We’re all enthusiasts and we all want to go fast, and PRI is where you find the products to go fast.”
Even as buyers were still walking the aisles at this year’s Show, talk of the much-anticipated 2013 Show and its relocation to the Indianapolis Convention Center was already well underway.
It was apparent that show goers would miss the Orlando sunshine and fine restaurants, but when it comes to doing business, the return to Indianapolis should make the event even busier.
“I’m loving it,” said Jon Kaase, owner of Jon Kaase Racing Engines, which builds engines for drag racing, as well as hot rods and street performance. “I love Orlando—you won’t find any better restaurants—but in reality it’s not a vacation. PRI is a place to meet people in the industry and show your product. There are just so many more people in Indianapolis and in that part of the country that buy our product, and not everyone can come here (Orlando). I think you’re going to find a lot more people who can make it to Indianapolis and I think the attendance will be huge up there.”
In addition to the increased attendance, many exhibitors spoke of greatly reduced costs from not having to send crews to both PRI and the IMIS show after the latter was recently acquired by SEMA and consolidated with the PRI Show.
“Having the two shows combine together makes all the sense in the world,” relayed Safety Kleen’s Drew Pate. “Cost savings on a dollar basis are probably well north of $50,000 when you consider man hours, travel and accommodations.”
That sentiment was echoed over and over again throughout the PRI Show.
“I think it’s great,” added Ashley Garrett, of U.S. Legends Cars. “We go to both shows, so it’s been really tough. You get home for a day, and then you’re right back out, so the consolidation is great. It’s good for everyone and helps avoid burnout. Just in fuel alone it will be a big savings.”
When asked about the return to Indianapolis, Scott Wahlstrom, of Motor State Distributing, which currently has as many as 45 employees shuttling between their home office in Michigan and the two current shows, summed it up succinctly: “Hallelujah.”
Expectations for next year’s show are already high, but there will be some sadness in leaving Orlando behind.
“I can’t say enough about the city of Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center,” said John Kilroy, PRI Trade Show producer. “They’ve been terrific partners. Yet, this is a fantastic opportunity to bring the industry back together in Indianapolis, the epicenter of racing in America. With as well as this year’s show went and with all of the activity around the show, we believe it will be even bigger and better next year. We expect even more activity during Race Industry Week, and I believe that our relocation will be well-received throughout the industry.”
Approximately 37,500 racing business people from all 50 states and 72 countries attended this year’s show to get current with the latest in racing technology courtesy of the 1000 motorsports companies introducing new lines in racing products, machining equipment, motorsport engineering solutions and more.
Preparation has already begun for the 2013 PRI Trade Show, which will run at the Indianapolis Convention Center, December 12-14. For more information, visit www.performanceracing.com/tradeshow.
Courtesy John Procida