Events: Performance & Racing Industry Trade Show Hits 30

Events: Performance & Racing Industry Trade Show Hits 30

Story and photos by John Gunnell

The Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show has been held in different cities over the years, but after the Specialty Vehicle Market Assoc. (SEMA) purchased PRI in 2012, it settled in Indianapolis. There’s a good reason for that—it’s in the shadow of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hallowed ground for circle racing enthusiasts. And if you like going fast in a straight line, drag master John Force has a massive facility in nearby Brownsburg. This year’s show dates were Dec 7-9.

The IMS plays a big role in the show each year, and this time it brought out four of A.J. Foyt’s historical Indy cars to honour his racing achievements. Also included was a 159-cid Foyt-Ford engine of the 1969-1977 era. While the show is much ado about auto racing, it also includes cars and trucks that can turn a muscle car fanatic on.

A special feature of the 2017 event was a “Hot Rodders of Tomorrow” engine-building competition featuring 50 teams vying for a Dual National Championship. The student teams were fresh from SEMA. Team Fel-Pro took the national championship. Three seconds separated the first- and second-place teams and just 17 seconds were between first and third. In the end, Team Fel-Pro from Tulsa Technology Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, came out on top with an average time of 17:06. Each student earned scholarship opportunities ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 from Ohio Technical College, School of Automotive Machinists & Technology, and Universal Technical Institute.

Other PRI activities included an Advanced Engineering Technology Conference, an International Council of Motor Sports Sciences Congress, a Race Track Business Conference, a Grand Opening Breakfast and an Exhibitor Party at Forrest Lucas’ nearby automotive-themed football stadium. There were approximately 60 seminars on topics ranging from Engine Coating Myths to Trust the Pros: Welding Tips from Experts.

One of the most active and exciting areas of the giant show is “Machinery Row” where visitors can watch engine cylinder heads and engine blocks being made with CNC machines. There were hundreds of other types of products on display in the Featured Products Showcase ranging from parts, lubricants and shop furniture to tools, specialized insurance, electronics and car-hauling trailers. Some 2,000 exhibitors set up booths inside the giant convention center and the trailers are parked outside on adjoining streets.

SEMA’s purchase of the the PRI Show has led to continued improvements in organization and communications. Some great signage makes it easier to navigate the aisles and the booth-numbering system is easier to follow thanks to the free show directory and a pocket-size fold-out floor plan map. According to PRI’s thick Show Guide, the event draws visitors from all 50 states and 80 countries.

Categories: Features, Muscle Car Plus