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In Case You Missed It
By Dan Schechner on December 27, 2017

There’s a famous scene from the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park” in which a glass of water on the dashboard of a vehicle begins to ripple.

“Do you feel that?” asks one of the young protagonists as he and his sister give pause, then realize something big is approaching.

The rest is cinematic history.

Headed into last month’s milestone 30th Anniversary Trade Show, many of us here at PRI headquarters felt a similar sense of anticipation and excitement. We knew there was a behemoth on the way—although not of the scaly, carnivorous sort.

Rather this beast, thankfully, had a somewhat familiar rumble: a bit like a camshaft rolling the valvetrain on a supercharged doorslammer just prior to launch.    

Sure enough, as the acclaimed early events of Race Industry Week gave way to PRI’s Grand Opening Breakfast, followed by a bustling day one of activity on the floor of the Indiana Convention Center, it became clear that this landmark edition of the Three Biggest Business Days in Racing would be a special one indeed.

A full report on the Show—including noteworthy product discoveries, technical insights, business tips and intel, and much more—will appear in next month’s issue of PRI Magazine.

But until then, and in the spirit of the headline, I’d like to highlight a few observations that, for this editor, helped encapsulate what this most recent showcase of parts, technology and solutions was all about. You know, just in case you missed it…

As he has for the last decade, legendary motorsports journalist Dave Despain helped kick off the Show with a lively stage program that provided the centerpiece of our abovementioned Breakfast. Having settled into his Q&A with special guest Chip Ganassi, Despain noted that the ultra-successful team owner had gone out on a limb when earlier in the year he had allowed rising NASCAR star Kyle Larson to compete in the Knoxville Nationals, an event that was not in his contract: “I remember being in his shoes as a young driver—and [knowing] what’s important and wanting to go fast—and as a team owner the last thing I want to do is slow a guy down,” Ganassi explained. “It wouldn’t be fair to a young man and his career. Certainly there is a lot of money and risks on the line, but is that a good reason to take a young guy and hold him back? I don’t think that’s fair.”

The response was thunderous applause from a crowd of some 3000 strong.

Then, on day two of the Show I had the distinct honor to moderate a panel discussion on opportunities for women in motorsports. We covered a lot of ground over the 60-minute session, and panelists Elaine Larsen, Dina Parise and Pippa Mann offered tremendous insights and perspectives on a number of key topics, including advice for aspiring young drivers, what their work-life balance looks like, how to move beyond traditional gender biases, and how they dealt with challenging or low points during their careers.

“I’m not in this alone,” responded attendee Alyssa Lasater, a Kansas-based driver of modifieds and sprint cars, when asked of her takeaway from the session. “A lot of these women have gone through the same struggles that I have in my career. The way that these women spoke today has given me the drive to keep going and not give up.”

And speaking of inspiring young competitors, it sure was uplifting to walk past the all-new PRI Simulator Challenge and see NASCAR great Brad Keselowski—after taking a spin on the sim—interacting with a pair of quarter-midget racers and their dad. What better way to engage the next generation of motorsports professionals?

And what better way to mark our 30th year serving this dynamic industry, with an eye toward the next three, four or more decades to come!

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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