The impact of the the annual Industry Roundtable at the PRI Trade Show is such that every year, it seems, a major story breaks as part of the discussion. For those of us in the audience, we don't always know what the big story will be coming out of the Roundtable. It's two hours of pretty mesmerizing talk by people in the racing business who really know their stuff.
Last year, there was a re-occurring theme by several of the panel members that racing may have lost a generation...especially a generation of young men who might have become ardent fans, and racers themselves. The thought was that iPhones, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and the entire digital world may have overpowered their lives. As unbelievable as it sounds to us, the idea of going to a race track for a night's entertainment...outdoors with plenty of action and the kind of noise that immediately lifts the adrenaline level...was not something they were doing as much any more. And the idea of wrenching a race car, and driving it door to door against competitors, may have become old-fashioned to some. Or, racing did not do as good a job attracting this generation to the track, where they could be encouraged to get behind the wheel of a race car.
Everyone seemed to agree that racing needs to do a better job grabbing the attention of the younger generation.
It was the kind of frank, insightful discussion that legendary race engine builder Smokey Yunick had in mind when he started the Industry Roundtable years ago.
Well, a reporter from SportsIllustrated.com was in the audience, and he saw a pretty interesting angle for a story. Brant James quoted people on the Roundtable last year, and squarely stated the challenges while also offering up solutions.
Click here to read James' article.
And, yes, James has told our media liaison, John Procida, that he'll be returning to the Roundtable this year.
Don't miss one of the best discussions of the key issues in racing today from all angles, involving stock cars, open wheel, drag racing, road racing and more. The Roundtable will start at 1:30, Wednesday, in the meeting rooms upstairs. Just follow the signs.
Here are the participants this year:
Moderator: Jeff Hammond, TV race commentator and one of NASCAR's greatest crew chiefs
Robin Miller, race journalist, SpeedTV
Dennis Huth, President of ASA
Gill Campbell, CEO & general manager of Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca
Carl Wegner, founder of Wegner Motorsports, oval track race engine builder
Gray Garrison, Promoter for Bowman Gray Stadium
Hugh Scully, MD, chairman of the International Council of Motorsports Sciences, prestigious race safety organization
Scooter Brothers, director of R&D and part-owner of Competition Cams, and organizer of the AETC, chairman of SEMA
Ray Wilkings, general manager of NHRA's Atlanta Dragway