An expanded Race Industry Week led into the 25th Annual PRI Trade Show, as several major events were among more than 35 conferences and seminars that ran in conjunction with the show in Orlando, Florida.
The Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC), Claude Rouelle’s Optimum G Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Seminar, The Race Track Business Conference, the International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) annual Congress, the Winning The eRace Digital Marketing Conference, Winning Setup Strategies for Dirt Late Models, and the FAST EFI University training course on electronic fuel injection in racing applications all took place during Race Industry Week 2012, which kicked off November 26.
“It’s very important for us to have events co-locate with us to have everyone in the racing industry together all at one place, all at one time,” said John Kilroy, PRI Trade Show Producer. “We think it’s invaluable to have PRI buyers not only attend the PRI Trade Show to see all the newest parts and technology for the 2013 season, but also to have the opportunity to attend an engine building conference or go to a vehicle dynamics seminar or a racing business seminar. Add in that we have some of the most brilliant minds in the world when it comes to race safety right here with the ICMS. We’re standing here seeing race professionals from all around the industry. It’s more than we imagined when we first began Race Industry Week.”
Attendance was strong across all events, and the conferences addressed some of the most pressing issues in the motorsports industry today.
“One of our focuses with this year’s ICMS has been looking at head injuries and the return to competition, with emphasis on young people,” said Dr. Stephen Olvey, M.D. “The top groups are very cognizant of it, but we’re trying to reinforce the importance at lower levels. Years ago you may have thought, ‘Oh he just had a concussion, that’s not such a bad deal’. Now we know that repeated concussions can ruin the rest of your life and actually shorten it.
"Conferences like this are really important because the attendees here will go back to people they work with in motorsports events from around the world and spread the word," he added. "This is a really good forum for dissemination of information related to safety in motorsports.”
Legendary promoter Humpy Wheeler headlined the activities at the Race Track Business Conference (RTBC) on November 28.
“It’s good to see people get together in the racing business as we’re all fighting the same battle with an economy that hasn’t come back yet,” said Wheeler. “That’s when the real promoters come out and you have to do things different. Creativity comes from the exchange of ideas you have at a conference like this. It’s a great setting with PRI, which is just a tremendous show. You can sense how big the racing industry is when you come down here.”
According to Tim Frost, RTBC promoter, the first-year conference exceeded projections: “The event has been beyond our expectations. PRI has been great. The entire team has been just fantastic for us. From an event standpoint, we’re very excited to be a part of this team.”
Feedback from the 2012 AETC was positive across the board, as attendees praised the volume and quality of information they received.
“There’s more information to be gained here at the AETC and then at the PRI Show in three or four days that would take you a year to get on your own,” said Jud Massingill, from SAM School of Automotive Machinists. “There’s so much knowledge in this room it’s incredible. When you sit here in this room, these people know how to talk to you. The guys with the simple questions need just as much help as the guy with the highly technical question. They know that if they can help you out now, you’ll be a good friend and a customer when you start asking the more technical questions. The networking here is priceless.”
At Claude Roelle’s Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Seminar, an audience that included amateurs and students, as well as aerodynamics, data acquisition and tire professionals, typically learn from each other as well as the curriculum.
“It’s highly informative and extremely in-depth,” said Kevin Van Cleave, RSR Motorsports Grand-Am team. “Claude’s developed a seminar based on developing a methodology to work with your race car instead of a recipe. Everything is interconnected—if you have one thing go wrong, everything falls apart. With Claude’s system, the more you learn, the more questions you have; it’s connecting dots and then creating new openings. It’s worth every penny.”
The first-ever Winning the eRace conference, which took place November 28, also addressed pressing topics in the ever-changing digital marketing world.
“We have a tech heavy staff, but our marketing staff is smaller,” said Lisa Holly of Crane Cams. “With a smaller staff, social media and digital media can be pretty overwhelming and extremely time-consuming. Coming here gives us an idea of what direction we need to go and where we may be lacking and what we need to change.”
Alan Murray, of Murray Motorsports, said the daylong seminar featuring presenters from Google, Constant Contact, eBay Motors and more gave him plenty to think about for the coming year.
“I learned about Internet marketing and social media,” he said. “I felt all the speakers were very, very good. I was a little overwhelmed. Being inexperienced at it, I didn’t understand all of it, but they explained it in a way that I could understand.”
Approximately 37,500 racing business people from all 50 states and 72 countries attended the 2012 PRI show to get current with the latest in racing technology courtesy of the 1000 motorsports companies introducing new lines in racing products, machining equipment, motorsport engineering solutions and more.
Preparations are already underway for the 2013 PRI Trade Show, which will take place at the Indiana Convention Center, December 12-14. For more information, visit www.performanceracing.com/tradeshow.