The energy level was revved up high all three days of the 24th Annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show as attending buyers packed the exhibits of over 1,000 racing industry suppliers to make their all-important inventory decisions regarding new racing products for 2012. The exhibiting companies went all out in bringing ingenious new racing technology to Orlando, and displaying it so creatively. There's nothing like it!
“It was a very strong show,” said Steve Lewis, PRI Trade Show producer. “We had three big exhibit days with substantial buying in all categories and exhibitors writing orders well into the afternoon. More important than it being a good week for PRI, it was a really good week for the racing industry. What was going on in that building for the those three days will affect people at race tracks and racing businesses around the world."
Exhibit option renewal forms began pouring into the Show office on the final two days of the PRI Trade Show, and a steady stream are being received daily at the PRI offices in Laguna Beach, California.
The PRI Trade Show is the world's largest gathering of racing professionals, who come to view the exhibits of over 1,000 racing industry suppliers. It took place December 1-3, 2011, at the Orange County Convention Center, in Orlando. The number of exhibitors, at 1037, was up over 2010. There were 170 new and returning companies exhibiting at the PRI Trade Show that were not on the Show floor plan the previous year.
“PRI is a great show,” said Mark Kostrzewa, Motor State Distributing. “Our customers vary from drag racing to circle track, not just domestically but worldwide, and the PRI Trade Show really gives us exposure to an international clientele. We see a fair amount of our international customers here every year and that gives us the opportunity to have a face-to-face with them. That exposure is just immense.”
“We’ve been very, very busy since the show opened,” said Dale Aldo, Motorsports Marketing Manager for Mopar, on Friday at the Show. Mopar highlighted its high-performance engine programs with its Gen-2 Hemi and Gen-3 Hemis, as well as the Mopar Drag-Pak, in its exhibit. “We haven’t even had an opportunity to walk the show because we’ve been too busy.”
Ron Sutton, who owns the racing retail operation, Star Racing Supply, in Sacramento, California, said he arrived in Orlando with specific suppliers with whom he wished to meet. "We take this opportunity to meet them face to face and learn more about their products to bring them into our store so we can sell it to our customers and bring something new to the western part of the United States that may be just on the eastern part. It helps them expand their business and helps us expand our business at the same time."
Race car builder Swift Engineering, based in San Clemente, California, is expanding and using PRI to shop for equipment. “It’s great to be at PRI,” said Clayton Triggs, of Swift Engineering Inc. “We’re expanding our equipment base and we have 60,000 square feet to fill. We’re looking to add autoclaves and lathes, as well as some additional machinery and we’re very happy with what we’ve found. The only downside is that my feet hurt because there’s so much to see here.”
“We’re here at the PRI Trade Show because most every company we do business with is here, and we’re here to check out the new technology,” said legendary engine builder Ed Pink, of Ed Pink Racing Engines. “There’s a lot of people here and we’ve seen a lot of new vendors here. It’s an excellent show.”
The popular trailer section of the PRI Trade Show had excellent buyer traffic, too, as exhibitors reported strong sales. "This may have been one of the most successful PRI Trade Shows I have ever been a part of, and I've been coming to this show for over 10 years," said Rich Schnippel, of inTech Trailers. "Our booth had extremely steady traffic the entire show. We booked more sales at the Show than any previous year."
The Show attracted approximately 38,000 buyers from throughout the US, and over 70 countries. There was a higher percentage of first-time visitors to the PRI Trade Show than in 2010. Attendees must be part of a racing busines or professional race team to enter.
The PRI Trade Show has evolved into a key business event globally for the worldwide racing marketplace. “This is the fourth time in the last five years we’ve been here,” Ben Barlett, of the Australian AAAA. “We have 21 Australian companies exhibiting here and it has surpassed our expectations. We do shows all around the world, but no other motorsports shows here in the U.S. – just PRI.”
Ashley Garrett, of U.S. Legends Cars International, added, “The Show has been great for us. We love this show because it has a good international flair to it. Our growth overseas has been phenomenal for us and we can attribute most of that to the PRI Show. The international buyers don’t buy four cars, they might buy 40 cars. In fact, we have a buyer here from Australia looking to buy 10 Bandoleros today.”
Another PRI exhibitor may be bringing more to the U.S. in 2013 than racing products as the Brazilian Formula Truck Series was exhibiting one of the series’ truck tractors on-site in preparation for its debut.
A record number of countries--70--were represented in the attendance at the 2011 PRI Trade Show.
Race Industry Week
No less than six major events ran in conjunction with the show beginning on Monday the week of the Show:
•Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC)
•Claude Roelle’s Optimum G Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Seminar
•Professional Motorsports Circuit Owners and Operators Convention
•International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) Annual Congress
•PRI Industry Roundtable
•EFI University Training Course on EFI in Racing Applications
All were well attended. Altogether, the week of the PRI Trade Show features over 35 conferences, seminars, social gathering and other events.
“It’s been extremely positive," said Brian Reese, of the AETC. "Every year continues to get stronger with the promotion of PRI. Our attendance is up from last year. Engine technology is universal. We have attendees from the professional engine builder to the grass-oots builders to racers and speed shops and manufacturer engineers. All types of racing, circle track to drag racers to marine and motorcycles. It’s a great interaction with the PRI Show. It adds value for everyone involved. The PRI Show is on the radar for everybody and it helps us promote the event.”
Gill Campbell, CEO of Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca, attended the Circuit Owners Convention. “I see the Promoters Convention as a huge tool. I find it very useful. Getting together with your peers in the industry, there’s no other training ground you have as a promoter. You only learn from what other people do, so this is a tremendous showcase for new ideas," she said.
“The good thing about the Roundtable is the people you’re talking to get it,” said SPEED’s Miller. “They’re all racers. They all understand the history of racing and they have a lot of good questions. You get all of these people from different walks of racing and it’s amazing how similar their thoughts are on a lot of issues that the industry faces today.”
Jon Potter, executive director of the ICMS, said the event scored very high marks with attending motorsports safety professionals, including surgeons, race sanction safety executives, race track emergency personnel and more. "The 2011 Congress was extremely successful. After tabulation, we rated 3.78 out of 4 in meeting our objectives. That will keep you on the dean's list!" he exclaimed. "The ICMS-PRI marriage is a huge success. Our people really enjoyed the show and being able to attend both."
Grand Opening Breakfast
Over 3,000 members of the racing industry attended the Grand Opening Breakfast, with Dave Despain creating a live presentation of his popular Wind Tunnel TV show. His special guests included race journalist Robin Miller, NASCAR star Ken Schrader, NASCAR Camping World Truck series star Cole Whitt, IndyCar star Alex Tagliani, Formula 3 Italia Rookie of the Year Michael Lewis and a special appearance by legendary drag racer Don "Big Daddy" Garlits.
PRI-Budweiser Happy Hour
Budweiser sponsored the Happy Hour reception that starts immediately upon closing of the first day of the PRI Trade Show on Thursday. Thousands of members of the racing industry gathered in the lobby of the Orange County Convention Center to mix and mingle with their industry friends.
Red Bull Kart Fight at PRI Powered By Rotax
In an outstanding night of action-packed racing under the lights before a standing-room-only crowd of 3,500 members of the racing industry, Jan Heylen won the 2011 All-Star division race at the Red Bull Kart Fight at PRI Powered by Rotax. He drove a CRG kart for the CRG USA team.
Jay Howard drove an Arrow chassis for the KartSport-Arrow team to a second-place finish, while the UK’s Ben Cooper, fresh off his Senior Division win in Dubai at the 2011 Rotax Max Challenge Finals, charged from P16 to claim the final spot on the podium. He drove a Praga kart, made by Intrepid, for the Praga North America team.
The Red Bull Kart Fight featured famed drivers from diverse series such as NASCAR Cup, X Games, IndyCar, ALMS, Grand-Am and the NASCAR Camping World Truck series.
“I got a little lucky with the lapped traffic,” said a modest Heylen, who won the last big kart race held at the PRI Trade Show. “I’ll be back next year,” added Heylen.
“This is a fantastic event,” said Howard. “I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”
PRI Management Seminars
On Friday and Saturday mornings, the PRI Trade Show offers its slate of three management seminars per day, before the opening of the exhibit hall. Topics covered this year included Tips For Race Engine Builders in a Tough Economy; Managing the Race Business Website, Marketing & Business Strategies For Up-And-Coming Racers; Social Media Marketing; Opportunities in the Legends Market and Inside The Heat Treating Process.
Preparation for the 2012 PRI Trade Show, which will take place Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando officially began at 4:01 p.m. Saturday, right after the close of a very successful 2011 event.