Our Takeaways from the 2016 PRI Show

Some of the products, booths, and participants of this year’s PRI Show that caught our attention

If there is one take-home lesson from every PRI Trade Show, it’s to expect the unexpected.  Or, if you’re like me, one of these years you’ll be ready to heed the advice of the experts like Bill Wood of Wilwood Brakes and Brent Anderson of JOES Racing Products to wear comfortable shoes.  My final step count for the show was 57,976.  Ouch.

In the midst of those steps were the discoveries of new products and innovations and the forging of new relationships in the industry.  PRI truly is the Super Bowl of off-season events in the racing industry.  As the show began to wind down, we decided to find some of the people in the industry who have been to the show a time or two and get their take on the 2016 version. We then deliberated for a day or two to determine the highlights of the show.

First, here is what the experts had to say:

Chris Dilbeck – PFC

What are your thoughts on this year’s show?

(The Show) is really reflective of our 2016 season.  We kicked off some new products for our short track market for dirt and asphalt.  From the time they opened the doors at 9 A.M. on Thursday until now it’s been non-stop traffic.  Everyone on our staff has been wide open and helping everyone the best they could.  I haven’t even eaten lunch this week.  It’s been wide open and it’s been great.

What does it mean to have a place like PRI to debut new products?

The best part is that we have a really good strategy here the way we set up our V3 rotor with the ZR94 caliper.  We have it set up so that we can let customers assemble and disassemble it so they can see how easy it is to put it together and take it apart.  That gains a lot of popularity and you can see the word spread.  You have a lot of guys come back three or four times to have their buddies look at it and see how cool it is and how nice and well it works.  A new product unveil at PRI is always huge.

Dilbeck entertains questions around the newest PFC products.Dilbeck entertains questions around the newest PFC products.
Dilbeck entertains questions around the newest PFC products.

What types of interactions do you have at the Show?

It’s a ton of one-on-one time.  It’s kind of one of those deals to where you wish you had a show that was five or six days long so you could spend more time with each customer.  The biggest goal is to make sure they have your contact information, and you have theirs so you can continue that line of communication especially with the technical support we provide our customers.  It’s very crucial to make sure we have the correct contact information.

What should you expect when you come to PRI?

There are thousands of short track racers from across the country.  We have everyone from our Indy Car programs to our dirt Late Model programs that come to PRI.  It’s just a good way to put a face with someone you’ve been helping all year long.  If you can get to PRI and put a face with the name, it makes things a lot easier.

Brent Anderson – JOES Racing Products

What are your thoughts on this year’s show?

It’s been great so far.  We come all the way out from Washington State and we’re happy to be out here to showcase all of our new parts and Junior Sprint frames, our Microsprint, and this Super Late Model frame from Lefthander that has all of our JOES parts on it.  All of the cars are pretty eye-catching.

What does it mean to have a place like PRI to debut new products?

We started this Microsprint last year.  We sold about 25 cars.  To have the cars here, they definitely grab your attention.  I think the quality of the cars and the parts that we make for them speaks for itself.  We’re just happy to have everyone stop by.  We have a bigger booth this year.  Last year we figured out that we outgrew our booth size, so we figured we needed to step it up.

The Junior Sprint and Microsprint were proudly on display at the JOES booth.  There was plenty of interest in both chassis.The Junior Sprint and Microsprint were proudly on display at the JOES booth.  There was plenty of interest in both chassis.
The Junior Sprint and Microsprint were proudly on display at the JOES booth.  There was plenty of interest in both chassis.

What types of interactions do you have at the Show?

A lot of racers come by.  They either give us input on our parts and things they’d like to see, or just some great feedback.  Also we have a lot of great dealers from around the country and around the world.

You have to take advantage of the times you can have everyone under one roof – the manufacturers, the racers, the race fans, and all of our dealers.  We get to catch up with everyone and we have to take advantage when everyone is in one spot.  Obviously Indianapolis is a great place, a place that was built on racing.  It’s a great time and great event.

What should you expect when you come to PRI?

For one thing bring comfy shoes.  Introduce yourself to a lot of people if you’re a racer.  Introduce yourself to a lot of product manufacturers and a lot of the dealers and try to put a name to the face when you’re working with them down the road.

Chas Howe – Howe Racing Enterprises

What does it mean to have a place like PRI to debut new products?

I don’t think you’ll find a higher concentration of racers anywhere in the county.  You get a really diverse group here, but you can usually find the customers that are looking for what you make.  This is the place that you save up to debut your parts at.

Do you produce products specifically to display at PRI?

Every racing product is just a problem solver.  We go to the races all summer to find out what the problems are.  Then we go back to the shop and design the things that can solve those problems.  We never really sit down and say, “What are we going to make that’s new?” We say, “What problem are people having that we can fix?”  That ends up in a new product.

That can happen at any time – whenever the problem presents itself.  Most of that is during the race season, and it depends on what time we start, but we always try to get it done by the time the show is here.  If we don’t think it’s ready, if we think it needs more testing, we’ll wait until the next year.

One of the problem-solving products Howe had on hand at this year's PRI Show was a cambered hub.  They had 5x5 and wide 5 styles.One of the problem-solving products Howe had on hand at this year's PRI Show was a cambered hub.  They had 5x5 and wide 5 styles.
One of the problem-solving products Howe had on hand at this year’s PRI Show was a cambered hub.  They had 5×5 and wide 5 styles.

What types of interactions do you have at the Show?

Sometimes it’s an awkward situation because you get a mix of customers from different parts of your business that all show up at the same time.  So it’s like one big open office.  Everyone is really good about it, and they’re patient.  Often if they can’t catch you the first try they come back later.

What should you expect when you come to PRI?

You have to really know what you’re here for.  There are exhibitors here from all forms of racing and if you try to see all of them you’re going to miss the ones you want to see.  You should have a checklist of the top ones you really want to see and leave some time to just wander around and discover something new.

Bill Wood – Wilwood Engineering

What are your thoughts on this year’s show?

It’s been crowded.  There are a lot of people here, some new exhibitors – but more than anything else – the place has just been jammed.  I think this is going to be the largest attendance they’ve ever had at the show.  We’re pretty happy about that.

What does it mean to have a place like PRI to debut new products?

You need a show.  It gives you a chance to see everyone that you don’t see all year and gauge what’s going on.  One of the things that amazes me is the resiliency of the racing industry.  It just keeps growing.  We’ve had some ups and downs – eight years ago during the great recession things got sticky for a while – but we’re doing great.  The industry is doing great.  This show is where it needs to be, in Indianapolis.  We get a lot of attendance from all across the county, so it’s really good for us.

Wilwood had new rotor and caliper technology on display at the PRI Show this year.Wilwood had new rotor and caliper technology on display at the PRI Show this year.
Wilwood had new rotor and caliper technology on display at the PRI Show this year.

Do you produce products specifically to display at PRI?

Often times it gives us a goal.  I don’t like to start displaying a product until I’m actually ready to ship it and sell it to people, so this gives us a finish line to work toward.  And we do that every year.


The Highlights

As for the products and booths themselves – there was plenty to take in.  We had to think long and hard about some of the ways that companies set themselves apart.  Listed below are five categories with three companies listed in each.  The company or product is listed in alphabetical order.  Here are some of the highlights of the show for us.

*Note: This is just our opinion.  There were a lot of great products and booths, but we just don’t have enough space to list them all!*

Most Innovative Products

AFCO – Frame replacement kit.  Our own Bob Bolles called this one a “game-changer.”  It is a direct replacement for the stock GM clips that are going obsolete.

PRIWRAP-0006.JPGPRIWRAP-0006.JPG

Coleman Air Spring and Bump – How about this for changes on the fly?  Change the canister and you have a brand new spring or bump rate.

PRIWRAP-0007.JPGPRIWRAP-0007.JPG

MSD 6CT Ignition – A tech inspector’s dream.  The massive LED display and programming allows the inspector to see the highest RPM achieved on chipped motors.

PRIWRAP-0008.JPGPRIWRAP-0008.JPG

Most Eye-Catching Booths

Bilstein – New shocks, very cool.  Sweet-looking Modified, also very cool.  Blue lighting, super cool.  Hard to pass on this booth.

We had to catch this during setup day.  Why?  Because the lighting looked pretty nice with the house lights dimmed.  The booth was still pretty stunning when the lights were up.We had to catch this during setup day.  Why?  Because the lighting looked pretty nice with the house lights dimmed.  The booth was still pretty stunning when the lights were up.
We had to catch this during setup day.  Why?  Because the lighting looked pretty nice with the house lights dimmed.  The booth was still pretty stunning when the lights were up.

JOES – If the Junior Sprint and Microsprints didn’t hook you, the bright yellow Lefthander Chassis packed with JOES Products was sure to catch your eye.

This chassis stopped a lot of attendees in their tracks.  First, bare chassis always draw interest.  Second, the JOES yellow drags you in.  It's like someone took a highlighter to this booth.This chassis stopped a lot of attendees in their tracks.  First, bare chassis always draw interest.  Second, the JOES yellow drags you in.  It's like someone took a highlighter to this booth.
This chassis stopped a lot of attendees in their tracks.  First, bare chassis always draw interest.  Second, the JOES yellow drags you in.  It’s like someone took a highlighter to this booth.

Wehrs Machine – IMCA National Champion Jordan Grabouski’s ride was proudly displayed on the lift at the show.  You could take a look at every part and piece under the car, as well as all of the other billet trickery in the booth.

There is so much to see at the Wehrs booth.  The Modified on the lift is like a beacon to come see what's happening.There is so much to see at the Wehrs booth.  The Modified on the lift is like a beacon to come see what's happening.
There is so much to see at the Wehrs booth.  The Modified on the lift is like a beacon to come see what’s happening.

Booths Where You Could Spend the Most Time

Jones Racing Products – If you love motors, you probably spent a lot of time in the Jones Racing Products booth.  The perimeter of their booth was lined with power plants from across the sport.  There were plenty of attendees ogling the motors throughout the show.

 Here is a close up on the Jones front end kit of one of the motors on display in the Jones booth.  It wouldn't have been too difficult to lose track of time looking at all the awesome power plants they had in the booth. Here is a close up on the Jones front end kit of one of the motors on display in the Jones booth.  It wouldn't have been too difficult to lose track of time looking at all the awesome power plants they had in the booth.
Here is a close up on the Jones front end kit of one of the motors on display in the Jones booth.  It wouldn’t have been too difficult to lose track of time looking at all the awesome power plants they had in the booth.

Miller Welders – First off, Miller Welders attracts a lot of attention in machinery row.  Secondly, they have a team in place to educate anyone who has questions on their products or how to use them.  Thirdly, they were hosting seminars in the booth.  There was plenty to see!

So much to see, so much to learn.  Miller does it right with plenty of knowledgeable people in the booth to answer questions.So much to see, so much to learn.  Miller does it right with plenty of knowledgeable people in the booth to answer questions.
So much to see, so much to learn.  Miller does it right with plenty of knowledgeable people in the booth to answer questions.

Mittler Brothers – Much like Wehrs, it’s cool to see a car integrated into a booth display.  Mittler Bros also hit it out of the park with Mike Harrison’s Mod as the centerpiece amidst all of their machinery and tools.

We had to get this one on Wednesday because it was tough to get near the Mod once the show opened.  Much like Miller, there were plenty of wise people in the booth to educate attendees about Mittler's products.We had to get this one on Wednesday because it was tough to get near the Mod once the show opened.  Much like Miller, there were plenty of wise people in the booth to educate attendees about Mittler's products.
We had to get this one on Wednesday because it was tough to get near the Mod once the show opened.  Much like Miller, there were plenty of wise people in the booth to educate attendees about Mittler’s products.

Busiest Booths

FiveStar Race Car Bodies – This is traditionally a hard one to get to, even though they have a ton of knowledgeable staff ready to help.  With the addition of the Camaro Pro Stock this year, FiveStar saw even more traffic.  Our advice is to get to this one early at the 2017 PRI Show.

This was about as close as we could get to the FiveStar booth.  It was packed from Thursday through show close.  FiveStar has been building its brands to include road racing and drag racing bodies.  That has been a major contributor to foot traffic at PRI.This was about as close as we could get to the FiveStar booth.  It was packed from Thursday through show close.  FiveStar has been building its brands to include road racing and drag racing bodies.  That has been a major contributor to foot traffic at PRI.
This was about as close as we could get to the FiveStar booth.  It was packed from Thursday through show close.  FiveStar has been building its brands to include road racing and drag racing bodies.  That has been a major contributor to foot traffic at PRI.

Penske – Everyone loves shock technology.  They also loved the beautiful Longhorn Chassis Dirt Late Model that was on display in the booth.  If you wanted a picture of this machine, you needed to check in very early, or wait around until very late.  Many attendees had their eyeballs fixed on this racer.

Everyone wanted to take a look at this Longhorn Chassis in the Penske booth.  Longhorn has built a powerful name in dirt racing with the success of Jonathan Davenport being a large factor.Everyone wanted to take a look at this Longhorn Chassis in the Penske booth.  Longhorn has built a powerful name in dirt racing with the success of Jonathan Davenport being a large factor.
Everyone wanted to take a look at this Longhorn Chassis in the Penske booth.  Longhorn has built a powerful name in dirt racing with the success of Jonathan Davenport being a large factor.

All Star Performance Products – Dennis Erb’s Late Model made for a nice centerpiece… and it didn’t hurt to have the Dream trophy on hand either.  All Star provides many different products, and product lines, so it wasn’t too surprising to see the booth full of many different types of racers.

More onlookers for Dennis Erb's Late Model.  Why not?  Everyone likes to see a winning race car.  They also had the trophy from his win at the Dirt Late Model Dream in the booth.More onlookers for Dennis Erb's Late Model.  Why not?  Everyone likes to see a winning race car.  They also had the trophy from his win at the Dirt Late Model Dream in the booth.
More onlookers for Dennis Erb’s Late Model.  Why not?  Everyone likes to see a winning race car.  They also had the trophy from his win at the Dirt Late Model Dream in the booth.

Neatest Attractions

American Racer – One picture, two words: Super Modified.  Enough said.

How cool are these?  The driver sits in the center; the motor and drive train are over to the left of the car, protected only by a rail.How cool are these?  The driver sits in the center; the motor and drive train are over to the left of the car, protected only by a rail.
How cool are these?  The driver sits in the center; the motor and drive train are over to the left of the car, protected only by a rail.

AR Bodies – Is there a more popular Dirt Late Model racer than Bobby Pierce right now?  Maybe not.  We loved seeing his car in the AR Bodies booth.

 This may have been the most photographed, and socialized car of the PRI Show.  Bobby Pierce quickly is becoming one of the most popular drivers on the Dirt Late Model scene. This may have been the most photographed, and socialized car of the PRI Show.  Bobby Pierce quickly is becoming one of the most popular drivers on the Dirt Late Model scene.
This may have been the most photographed, and socialized car of the PRI Show.  Bobby Pierce quickly is becoming one of the most popular drivers on the Dirt Late Model scene.

Sweet Manufacturing – Ever heard of a guy by the name of Mark Martin?  How about Larry Shaw?  The Shaw Chassis Mark Martin edition was on display in the booth throughout the show.  Martin even stopped by to sign some autographs with Shaw on Thursday.  If you caught them at the right time, you also ran into IMCA Super Nationals winner Ricky Thornton, Jr.

Ricky Thornton Jr. (left), Mark Martin (center), and Larry Shaw (right) share a laugh during an autograph signing in the Sweet Manufacturing booth.  Just as Thornton sat down, Martin said, “I've been hearing great things about you.”  The look of shock on Thornton's face was priceless.Ricky Thornton Jr. (left), Mark Martin (center), and Larry Shaw (right) share a laugh during an autograph signing in the Sweet Manufacturing booth.  Just as Thornton sat down, Martin said, “I've been hearing great things about you.”  The look of shock on Thornton's face was priceless.
Ricky Thornton Jr. (left), Mark Martin (center), and Larry Shaw (right) share a laugh during an autograph signing in the Sweet Manufacturing booth.  Just as Thornton sat down, Martin said, “I’ve been hearing great things about you.”  The look of shock on Thornton’s face was priceless.

Sources:

AFCO

(800) 632-2320

www.afcodynapro.com

All Star Performance Products

(269) 463-8000

www.allstarperformanceproducts.com

American Racer

www.americanraceronline.com

AR Bodies

(888) 245-1468

www.arbodies.com

Coleman

(800) 221-1851

www.colemanracing.com

Five Star Race Car Bodies

(262) 877-2171

www.fivestarbodies.com

Howe Racing Enterprises

(989) 435-7080

www.howeracing.com

JOES Racing Products

(425) 267-9199

www.joesracing.com

Jones Racing Products

(610) 847-2028

www.jonesracingproducts.com

Miller Welders

(920) 734-9821

www.millerwelds.com

Mittler Brothers Machine and Tool

(800) 467-2464

www.mittlerbros.com

MSD/Holley

(888) 258-3835

www.msdperformance.com

Penske Shocks

(610) 375-6180

www.penskeshocks.com

Performance Friction (PFC) Brakes

(800) 521-8874

www.performancefriction.com

Sweet Manufacturing

(269) 344-2086

www.sweetmfg.biz

Wilwood Engineering

(805) 388-1188

www.wilwood.com

The post Our Takeaways from the 2016 PRI Show appeared first on Hot Rod Network.

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