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Views & Notes
By Dan Schechner on August 5, 2013

A Grand Tradition: There’s no other way to say it: Summer at PRI is an exciting time. While racers and their teams are working hard to harness every last ounce of horsepower, the crew here in Laguna Beach, California, is pounding away in preparation for the world’s greatest annual gathering of motorsports professionals.

And this year’s PRI Trade Show carries special significance. Not only does it come with added momentum from last year’s consolidation with the IMIS, but in December we’re bringing over 1100 exhibiting companies, and more than 40,000 attendees from all 50 states and 70-plus countries, to the Racing Capital of the World, Indianapolis!

What’s more, we’ve just confirmed that a favorite industry tradition, the Grand Opening Breakfast that kicks off the first day of Trade Show exhibits, will feature the return of Dave Despain and his popular Wind Tunnel TV program. For several years now Despain has entertained PRI audiences with his unique stories and insights—and big-name guests—from the world of auto racing. And, we've also learned that Dave’s guest at the Breakfast will be “The King,” Richard Petty. For more details, click here.

The Mentor Among Us: One of the highlights of PRI’s recent swing through North Carolina was our visit with master engine builder Keith Dorton of Automotive Specialists. Dorton’s standing in the pantheon of circle track engine builders is well established. He’s a legend pure and simple. And walking through his Concord, North Carolina, facility felt a bit like a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory—if only giant candy bars were race engines.

At any rate, Dorton was more than generous with his time, expertise and access, and for that we’re truly grateful. But amid the shop talk, Dorton disclosed something about himself that probably doesn’t get the recognition it deserves: For the last two years Dorton has volunteered each week at a nearby youth detention center, where he teaches an hour-long engine building class to four students over a span of five weeks. In fact, on the fifth week the boys come out to the shop for some hands-on training.

Dorton explained: “I try to teach them that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. It also lets them know that there are people out there who care about you. That’s one of the main reasons I do it.” And that’s what we call making an impact!

Trackside Traction: True, we were told ahead of time that CV Products ran one of the top retail operations in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. But when we arrived at their Mooresville store in early summer it quickly became evident what a well-oiled machine this actually is. Store Manager Nathan Childress was a genuine reflection of the service, availability and knowledge that brings CV Products repeat business from top racers at all levels and disciplines (asphalt, dirt, drag, etc.) of motorsports.

It was especially interesting to learn of CV’s extensive efforts beyond the store itself. According to Childress, the company regularly dispatches trailers stocked with specific products to different tracks around the region. “For example,” he told us, “we’ve picked up good business recently in the dirt market, so we send a trailer to those tracks with dirt products only. And we take totally stocked trailers to all the ARCA races, all the [Sprint] Cup races, all the sports car races. I also have an engine guy who goes to all the NHRA races—so everyone who works here, we all have our niches.”

Always nice to hear how top retailers are staying ahead of the game.

Going Out On Top: Junior Johnson did it in 1966. And last month seven-time USAC national champion racer Levi Jones announced his retirement from active driving, opting instead to focus on the family business. Here’s wishing Jones, whose most recent win came May 24, in the prestigious Hoosier Hundred, much success in future endeavors.

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