Made In The USA: While in Charlotte, North Carolina, for PRI's Annual Industry Reception, we had the opportunity to visit several area speed shops, engine builders and fabricators, as well as a handful of racing product/equipment manufacturers. Our travels brought us first to Racing Electronics, where President and CEO Bruce Silver and Director of Motorsports Communication Services Kevin Hughes gave us a personalized tour of their stunning 18,000-square-foot Concord facility.
Perhaps most impressive, however, was the fact that Racing Electronics in the last three years has brought nearly all of its operations, including R&D, customer service and production—plastic injection, stamping, over-molding, etc.—back under one roof.
"A decade ago you couldn't afford to do these things stateside," said Silver, "but now we're doing almost everything in-house. We've created six to eight new jobs in North Carolina, and that's something we're very proud of. My thinking was, 'If we can do it here, let's do it here.' So yes, economically it's worked out better, and you can't beat the quality control and turnaround times. But it's also a real point of pride for us."
Spirit Of Racing: Speaking of North Carolina, if there's one asphalt short track in the country that every race fan should put on his/her bucket list, it's Bowman Gray Stadium. In fact, PRI Senior Art Director Scott Crawford and I were fortunate enough to experience the historic Winston-Salem venue one recent evening.
The place is steeped in racing lore, with names like Junior Johnson, Richard Petty and Bobby Allison among its alumni. And on this night—a day before the Coca-Cola 600 in nearby Charlotte—none other than NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and Fox Sports announcer Mike Joy brought added star power to the pre- and post-race ceremonies. Meantime, the program itself ran like clockwork (races on schedule, little to no downtime in between), which speaks directly to President Gray Garrison and his outstanding staff.
We were equally struck by the tremendous dedication of Bowman Gray's drivers, crew and fans. As one team member of the No. 75 and No. 77 modifieds explained when the conversation turned to cost: "It's simple, really. We'd sell our blood to do this—that's how important racing is to us."
Award Season At PRI: We're extremely proud to report that one of our longtime contributors, Bill Sessa, was recently recognized by the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) for a feature article that appeared in the November 2012 issue of Performance Racing Industry magazine.
Sessa's outstanding profile of Kear's Speed Shop in Tiffin, Ohio, earned him a spot on the podium (3rd place) in the Magazine Feature Writing category of the annual AARWBA contest. He was formally honored at the association's awards breakfast in Indianapolis, Indiana, in late May.
Said Sessa of the distinction: "I've met so many people all over the country who are passionate about racing. Even though the PRI Retailer Profiles are about business, they also allow that passion to shine through to the readers. I've known Shirley Kear for years, and I don't think anyone is more dedicated or passionate about sprint cars. That made the story a personal pleasure to write, and made me appreciate the award all the more."
Congratulations, from all of us, on this well-deserved honor.
Passages: A pair of industry pioneers who left us in recent weeks will be remembered for their lasting contributions to motorsports. Harvey Crane Jr. Founded Crane Engineering (Crane Cams) in 1953. By the mid 1960s, Crane Cams had become the largest manufacturer of aftermarket camshafts in the US. Harvey Crane was 81.
Among drag racing innovators, few had a more profound impact than Walt Arfons, who is credited with building the first jet-engine dragster, as well as adapting parachutes as braking mechanisms. Walt Arfons was 96.