Views & Notes: March 2015 Edition | Performance Racing Industry
Views & Notes: March 2015 Edition
By Dan Schechner on February 25, 2015

* Power Conference: Each year PRI makes a real effort to attend SEMA’s MPMC Media Trade Conference, a late-January event that brings together motorsports journalists from across the US for three days of individual, face-to-face meetings with dozens of the industry's leading manufacturers. After attending my first conference in 2013, I compared it to speed dating (or what I imagine speed dating must look like), where media types bounce from room to room at the Embassy Suites hotel for 30-minute sessions with representatives from the parts makers of their choosing. This year my dance card was filled with great companies like AMSOIL, Comp Performance Group, Flaming River, Holley, Lunati, MAHLE and more. And the agenda was simple: Figure out what trends, topics and technologies were driving development in several of racing's key product categories. I discussed the use of exotic materials and manufacturing processes with WELD Racing; how Hughes Performance has seen an explosion in demand for street performance products in the past 3 to 5 years; how AEM is working to educate racers on the benefits of standalone EFI units; the impact of technology transfer between the different divisions at Chevrolet Performance; and how McLeod Racing partners with its dealers to promote products and applications online. Needless to say we unearthed a number of compelling story lines to cover in upcoming issues of PRI magazine. Stay tuned!

* Accelerated Learning: Cool story out of the Sunshine State, where students at Florida Institute of Technology have linked up with the Larsen Motorsports team and its 5500-horsepower jet dragsters. The unique partnership has LMS relocating its operations from Daytona Beach, Florida, to the new Palm Bay-based Florida Tech Research and Development Center, a 30,000-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art design, engineering, fabrication, training and operations capabilities; LMS also will bring in $8 million worth of equipment. “One of the reasons we approached Florida Tech is its commitment to hands-on, high-tech, real-world education, and that’s what we hope to help provide,” said LMS CEO Chris Larsen. “If anything, our affiliation is giving us the opportunity to involve more students, representing more majors, in more aspects of the company than ever before.” Indeed, Florida Tech was established at the dawn of the Space Race in 1958, and its expertise in aerospace and jet propulsion makes the university a natural fit to collaborate on the “landlocked missiles,” as Elaine Larsen affectionately terms her vehicles. Look for the Florida Tech-branded dragster in action at IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series events throughout the year. 

* Short Track M&A: While racing is just getting underway at scores of short tracks across the country—with many more ramping up their 2015 seasons in the coming weeks—there’s been no shortage of behind-the-scenes activity at local speed plants. Fresh off his purchase of the ARCA Midwest Tour late last year, Gregg McKarns is set to begin his run as the new owner of Madison (Wisconsin) International Speedway. The longtime promoter and GM at Rockford Speedway in Loves Park, Illinois, stepped away last July to better position himself “to own my own track and run my own tour,” he told the Rockford Register Star earlier this year. Those plans include adding more “thrill shows” and bolstering the track’s weekly racing slate, as well as bringing Madison into the NASCAR Home Tracks family for the sanction’s Whelen All-American Series, which was accomplished in early February. Visit for further updates and schedule information. Elsewhere, Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, California) promoter Dennis Gage recently took the promotional reigns at nearby Marysville (California) Raceway. In addition to sharing announcer Troy Hennig, the two tracks—separated by a mere 50 miles—will band together this season for a promotion offering $10,000 to any driver that wins the first three winged 360 sprint car races at both tracks. Stakes racing was scheduled to begin with the Sherm & Loree Toller Memorial at Marysville on February 28.         

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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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