Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show A True Learning Experience | Performance Racing Industry
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Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show A True Learning Experience
December 13, 2019
An expanded PRI Education seminar lineup offered something for everyone in the motorsports business during Day Two of the 2019 PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis.
Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show A True Learning Experience

The annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show is well known for its innovative B2B exhibits of the latest in hardcore motorsports products and technologies, but it’s also a venue for cutting-edge learning. In fact, an expanded education slate for 2019 has seen seminar rooms just as packed and bustling as the Show’s business halls. Moreover, the expanded program made sure there was something for everyone in the industry.

Take for example the tuners, engine builders, and even a transmission specialist, who streamed into one of the Indiana Convention Center (ICC) seminar rooms on Friday, December 13, to learn from the experts at The Tuning Shop. Entitled “Modern Approaches to Complicated Engine Controls,” their presentation featured tuning tips for late model GM, Ford, and Dodge vehicles.

Dodge was of special interest to David Weber of Modern Muscle Extreme in Martinsville, Virginia, who focuses on Hemi power, but he said, “It is also good to learn about the other platforms.”

Bob Morreale presented “Chrysler/Dodge A.N.N. (Artificial Neural Network),” to which Weber said, “To do what they just described for the Chrysler computer, we spent weeks doing. But it’s the only tool that we know right now. That is why we are here.”

Fellow instructors at The Tuning School Tony Gonyon and Brett McClelland covered the Ford and GM segments, respectively. All three brands were of interest to tuner Theo Holt of Hi-Rev Dyno Tuning in Rialto, California. “I did have some general automotive questions that they were able to take care of, so it was worth it,” he said.

Holt added that the benefit to attending this seminar, as well as other PRI Education seminars is, “You are learning new things, and you get a chance to meet the people you see on social media. You get to meet other people who are attending and network and build relationships. It’s always advantageous.”

Weber stressed the importance of continuing education. “It’s an ever-changing industry every day. We just keep pushing these factory cars harder and harder.” He concluded, “You are never too old to learn.”

Meanwhile, several powerful points—remain strong and committed, stay positive even through the bad days, be your authentic self—were raised and reinforced during PRI’s fourth annual Opportunities for Women in Motorsports seminar Friday morning. Playing to a standing-room-only crowd of well over 200 attendees, panelists Leah Pritchett of Don Schumacher Racing, Alex Taylor of Alex Taylor Racing, Lea Ochs of The Lead Sled, and Sarah and Bridget Burgess of BMI Racing shared wisdom and advice for aspiring young racers and others during the session deftly moderated by Jeanette DesJardins of Car Chix and Crank It Media.

Responding to a question on attracting sponsors, Pritchett noted the importance of “being a professional at building your brand and being your value.”

Taylor agreed that racers “do need to have something to offer sponsors.” She added: “Be involved, know your sport and know your car. There’s no substitute for learning what sponsors need and what you can give.”

As the topic turned to social media, Sarah Burgess advised racers to “be aware of your surroundings, and be courteous of the brands you represent,” when posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Daughter Bridget also weighed in on the different platforms, noting the importance of tailoring your posts to suit specific audiences and objectives.

Ochs, meantime, cited her popular Snapchat posts on pig hunting in the offseason as evidence that “it’s not only about racing—they want to connect with you as a person, too.”

Attendees were upbeat and energized as the seminar came to a close following a spirited Q&A. “What really resonated with me as a mother and a drag racer was hearing about the other mom driver up there (Sarah Burgess) getting back in the car after being a mom, and even after an accident, getting back in the driver’s seat,” said attendee Loan Prayoonto, who races a 2020 Toyota Supra. “It’s nice being able to relate to the other women up there.”

Similarly, driver Britt Taylor and Neisha Kifer of Renegade Rides told us they appreciated the Show offering a specific event for women in racing. Two questions raised in the seminar—one about femininity and another on motherhood—struck a chord for Taylor. “Those are two very uniquely woman issues,” she said. “The one about motherhood, especially. I definitely want to be a mother at some point in my life…and it was interesting to hear others talk about how your life changes as a racer if you have a child, the kind of conversations that you need to have, and how you worry about both your child’s safety and your own safety on a whole different level.”

She also found value in how panelist Pritchett addressed the issue of femininity. “There’s no one box we all fit into, and everybody approaches it differently,” said Taylor, whose organization is putting together an all-female race team in NHRA Division 1. “A lot of us have been tomboys our whole life, but some of us aren’t. And it’s nice to feel like you’re still part of the team, even if you like pink things or sparkly things, but to be taken no less seriously because you’re still a really good driver.”

There was wisdom available to small business operators as well. Small business expert Barry Moltz led the business-focused session on “Finding/Hiring Qualified Employees,” which included insight into recruiting and retaining top talent in today's full employment economy. Moltz touched on matching company goals to employee goals, hiring with a positive work culture in mind, and consistently maintaining an "employee prospect" list of ideal candidates.

Buyer Adam Olalde was on hand representing his company Xtreme Xperience Driving School, which offers 50-plus supercar driving training events at race tracks nationwide. When asked about the retaining top talent portion of the seminar, Olalde said Moltz reinforced the tactics he already utilizes for his some 500 employees.

"With Barry and a lot of these [PRI Education] speakers, a large portion of [why I'm here] is to make sure I am doing [things] right from guys who have been doing this longer than I have, so checkmark on that," Olalde said, noting he was focusing on educational seminars during his first PRI Show this year, while his team walked the exhibit halls.

(For those who didn’t attend, the seminar was based on Moltz's book "How To Get Unstuck," geared toward small business owners. For more information and resources, visit barrymoltz.com.)

The days' seminar presenters also enjoyed the interactions with their participants. Among them was Corey Perlman, who conducted a seminar titled “Authentically Social” that focused on social media best practices.

“It was all about helping businesses to be more authentic with their social media marketing,” explained Perlman. “One takeaway was prioritizing their platform. Instead of being a jack of all social media sites but master of none, they should do a few but do them really well.”

“They also need to just bring their authentic self,” he added. “This is such a cool industry and there are so many neat things that go on behind the scenes at race events and such. Bringing that to life on social media through video and images is what’s important — not writing content just to put content in there.”

Perlman found his audience extremely receptive. “It was a great group. We had a full room and lots of great questions, and a big mix of people from millennials on up who want to be more effective with their digital marketing,” he said.