The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are now over and it is now the end of the first week in January. Like everyone in the racing industry, I also look to a number of indicators to gauge what is happening and predict how current events will affect the coming season in terms of business opportunities.
Indicator number one for me is the feedback we are receiving about the 24th annual PERFORMANCE RACING INDUSTRY Trade Show. Even though it has been more than a month since thousands of racing businesses came to Orlando to do business, we are still receiving amazing messages from both exhibitors and attendees about the happenings on the show floor those three days. The fact that exhibitors did a substantial amount business, combined with the rate the Exhibit Option Renewal Forms that are coming in, substantiates the industry is positive about 2012.
Next on the list of indicators that I watch closely is the number of advertisers and advertising pages that were reserved for the January and February issues of PRI Magazine and we have excellent news here, too. Both the January and February issues for 2012 featured substantially more advertisers than we had in 2011, which is another indicator of “strength” for the industry. Our PRI Magazine subscribers read the magazine from cover to cover. The advertising is also closely reviewed because these advertisements bring new product offerings as well as gross margin and profit opportunities to the racing retailer, car builder, engine builder and fabricator.
There are a number of other “indicators” that I carefully watch, and I am very pleased to see that the “first of the year” race events are doing extremely well. The 14th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne, which took place at the end of December, drew strong car counts in all the divisions that included midgets, karts, outlaw modified winged midgets, quarter midgets, and non-winged mini-sprints. Then on Friday and Saturday nights, the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was packed with eager race fans who enjoyed good, old-fashioned wheel-to-wheel racing as their hero Tony Stewart won both midget main events.
At press time, we are now just a week away from Emmett Hahn and Lanny Edwards’ 26th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals that will again feature an amazing midget car count well above 260 entries. Midget fans from all around the world jam the QuikTrip Center for five straight nights to watch their heroes put on a wild and crazy show on the tight dirt oval. We all should look to how Emmett, Lanny and their energized crew operate this race event. EVERYTHING goes off like clockwork, and the fans enjoy the frantic racing action that never stops from the wave of the green flag to the checkered flag. I have never seen anything like the Chili Bowl event where Emmett and crew manage the 200-plus competitors so there is never any down time; cars are staged; heats and mains are run; and all of this happens so the packed house is “entertained” from the very beginning to the last lap of the A-main on Saturday night.
The end of January was also the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and then NASCAR will begin early season testing at Daytona. So far the winter has not been too harsh and I hope this trend continues. Then, April will arrive and the weekly grassroots racing shows across the country will begin.
We all have lots to look forward to for the coming season!