Performance Racing Industries Mega Show
December, 2006 | by John Siebenthaler: photos©john siebenthalerconnecting business to market
Take Your Time — You’ll Never Finish
We couldn’t resist the cuter n’ a button P2 Little Red Pickup from SportChassis by Freightliner.
Gearheads Get Ready
If it uses internal combustion to go fast, you’ll find it at the Performance Racing Industry trade show. From drag boats to pulling tractors, every category of competition is represented. Come early and stay late. With both indoor and outdoor venues there’s plenty to see, hear and do.
(ORLANDO) The Performance Racing Industry (PRI) is the bookend to the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), and though somewhat smaller and a lot newer than it’s older brother in Las Vegas is nonetheless gargantuan in scope relative to what we’re used to in the Powersports community.
PRI is to racing of any stripe what grits are to bacon and bisquits. It’s an annual gathering of the competitive, and that includes everyone from karters to Champ racing to quarter mile to SCCA. Ooops, nearly forgot the top fuel drag boat crowd. And the tractor pullers, sorry.
Indeed, walking the show means a constant lightning round dedicated to figuring out the acronyms on overhead banners. NASCAR, NHRA, NTPA, SCCA, LLM, NDBA — it’s a relief to spot the WOO (World of Outlaws) header and realize you’re in familiar territory.
Wear Comfortable Shoes Held in Orlando’s mammoth convention center that’s rumored to contain five continuous miles of isles when configured for the show, PRI is organized according to category — tools, trailers, organizations, tires, etc.
This is where you’ll want to shop for a bazillion-angle valve seat grinder, fully customized car and crew trailers (try absorbing the deep pockets required for one of the leaseable/ownable semi-drawn 40-footer bumpouts), perhaps a simulator for oval track practice in the off months, or one set up for quarter mile reaction times between rounds.
Fire suits and portable weather monitoring stations, rebound sensors and tee shirt vendors (five for $10, six color front and back), chassis welding jigs and parts cleaners. PRI’s a moveable feast of speed hardware and the bits and pieces that make it all look good in the process.
And because there’s some overlap between the four and two-wheel camps, we were able to talk with Vanson a little about their offshore manufacturing move. And there was a German jig table that (for a price) insures laser straight repeateable setups and that could also be broken down for different setups as needed. But mainly PRI’s the Home Depot of automotive go-fast goodies.
December Weather’s Just Fine Where else can you see Dynojet run live numbers on their gorgeous factory GT-40? Did I mention the twin turbo setup? You can tell it was ready for business, just by checking out the serious Hoosier skins that were scuffed in just right.
Because there’s a prohibition on floor pix, which this year was pretty soundly ignored by many of the walkers I saw, we weren’t able to cover the event in normal fashion. What attendees need to know is that this is very much a working man’s show. Where SEMA headlines Mario Andretti and Chip Foose, here you’ll see Don Garlits and Chris Economaki working the booths. Two Guys Garage is usually on hand shooting promo inserts while Speed Channel films their interviews up on stage at the back of the hall. About the only thing missing is a Fast Orange dispenser on every aisle.
PRI tends towards the practical side. While a good bit of SEMA’s emphasis is on bling in one form or another, PRI’s focus is on what it takes to build and maintain a race operation. Towards that end, there’s plenty that two-wheelers can make use of, whether it’s off-road, street, touring or comp.
Put A Nice Bend In Your Pipe
icengineworks exhaust modeling system is smart, smooth and works just as well on two cylinders as it does on eight. So simple even a cave... well, you get the idea.
Elegant, Smart, Simple One of the cleverest ideas we’ve seen anywhere is the icengineworks exhaust header modeling system. With colors straight from a set of Legos, the molded plastic snap-together sections snake out from an exhaust manifold like a snake charmers worst nightmare.
This is exactly the kind of common sense product that once you see it gives rise to the classic Homer Simpson "Duh!" moment. The concept is simple. (All really good ideas are — after someone else thinks them up.) icengineworks is a nothing more than a collection of radiused, snap-together sections that are lightweight, infinitely adjustable and spot-on accurate.
Starting at the manifold, you just snap and twist for the desired length and angle, building as you go, adjusting to the tightest tolerance. Once all the pieces line up according to your need, it’s a simple process to begin assembling tubing according to the dimensional plan you’ve just created.
Available in a range of diameters and angles, the inch-long pieces are light years from the coat hanger method of bend and guess that works okay if you’re a) not in a hurry and b) don’t mind do-overs. Available in 1.625", 1.75" and 2" builds.
BugEye Simulator — Not Just For Cars To drive competitively these days, you’ll need a trainer. The kind that sits in the corner, plugs into the wall, and requires your presence for hour after hour of repititious eye-hand coordination at the controls of your personally configured driving tutor.
I was invited to play, make that experience, the BugEye difference in simulated realism. Surround sound, surround vision, a genuine roll cage that could keep out a herd of great whites and a seat belt harness that can be modified for lockable restraint if required combine for an unbelievable recreation of your preferred track at high speed and in all conditions.
Designed by a couple of former Boeing engineers and available in dirt, pavement, oval, road and moto gp flavors, BugEye is either a necessity for the team or the ultimate Dad’s Day gift.
Sure, you think you can do it, no matter you’ve never been behind the wheel of a winged outlaw on dirt. A super sensitive feedback loop keeps track of your every twitch. About the 42nd time I spun on the restart, I figured the minutes I had to spare wouldn’t compensate for the days required for competence and moved on, careful to dodge the Segway mounted fire marshall manuvering through the isles.
Oil•Dri Solves The Problem
Oil Dri’s mini pads are the perfect solution for capturing unavoidable drips. These half by foot and a half sections of absorbent material are ideal for shop and garage floors and do a great job of neatly retaining unsightly spills for a tidy disposal.
Watch Your Step Another nifty solution for that occasional puddle on the floor is from Oil-Dri in the form of a 7.5" by 18.5" pad that’s perfect for soaking up the smallest drip that somehow escapes from the cases. Another use we’ve found is for the sloppy job of chain lube. It’ll catch all the runoff perfectly, and then folds up for disposal.
Going a step further, these little helpers are easily silk screened with a logo and promo message, which then turns them into a practical, economical promo item. This is the kind of item that, when your customer rolls his eyes at the re-fi required service bill, can make a retention difference when included with the invoice and receipt; lowcast, practical and appreciated.
Leaving the hall for the last time I turned for a final glance at OEM row — Ford, GM, Chrysler — and couldn’t help but wonder where all this was headed in the years ahead. It feels like we’re on the brink of a major shift, away from brute horsepower and towards a paradigm that’s more computer than torque wrench. We’ll see in a few months if there’s anything to that slight feeling of nostalgia.