John Force will join Dave Despain on a live version the popular "Wind Tunnel TV" program during the Grand Opening Breakfast at the PRI Trade Show.
Fifteen-time NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Champion John Force will take center stage at this year’s Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show, joining Dave Despain on a live version of his popular "Wind Tunnel TV" program during the Grand Opening Breakfast. The racing legend is looking forward to getting back to "the three biggest business days in racing" for a variety of reasons.
“I am really looking forward to spending the morning with Dave Despain because that is an experience,” said Force, driver of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. “Part of the reason you go to PRI is to look for new sponsorship. You also look for programs there and product deals, and that is what it is all about. There are big companies and little companies there. It is also just fun to be there with the racers. It is business but still fun.”
Force’s appearance is just a small part of drag-racing’s presence at the performance trade show. From Top Fuel to sportsman, and from small-town America to the growing drag-racing market around the world, PRI inevitably seems to have something for everyone.
Renowned Pro Stock engine builder Jon Kaase is just one of the many industry people who not only attends the show, but also has become a regular at the Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC)—one of the events that takes place during Race Industry Week leading up to the show.
“I’ve learned about valve springs, spark plugs, basically, for every AETC presenter there are two or three things that stand out, “said Kaase. “It’s nice to be able to exchange ideas with not only the presenters, but also other engine builders. Some of the best stuff you get is at lunch, just sitting down and networking. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction with your suppliers.”
Of course, Kaase also admits that he loves to go to Machinery Row at the PRI Trade Show "and lust after all that stuff."
In addition to numerous drag racing-related businesses, it’s not uncommon to see a Morgan Lucas, Tim Wilkerson or even a Don “Big Daddy” Garlits making the rounds.
“I go to the PRI Trade Show every year,” said Wilkerson—a 2012 winner in the NHRA Funny Car ranks. “I’m there to learn anything new that’s happening in the industry, to meet with my vendors, as well as some of my sponsors, and just to see people that I know. The new products are more interesting to me than anything. I also like to walk around and see what the other racing series do as well and check out some of the technology they use.”
And, in turn, the show has proven to be invaluable for those marketing the latest technology.
“We see a lot of our customers there,” said Carl Schultz of Five-Star Race Bodies. “It presents some real good opportunities. We do drag-racing bodies, oval track racing, pavement and dirt and road-race bodies. We get a lot of drag-racing traffic, but all four of our lines get busy. There are so many racers here that putting a race car in your booth is like putting a pretty girl in your booth.”
And just as important as the actual buying and selling on the show floor is having a presence among your clients with whom you may get to interact personally only once a year.
“It’s important that NHRA is at PRI to represent the drag-racing industry,” said Jeff Morton, NHRA's director of advertising sales. “PRI has all forms of motorsports, but drag racing is a large part of it. Drag racers everywhere want to go fast, and the PRI show is the biggest trade show in the world for them and they go there to buy.”
The 25th Annual PRI Trade Show will run November 29–December 1 in Orlando. It is expected to attract 38,000 racing professionals from 70 different countries to see the latest product lines from more than 1,000 manufacturers of racing and high-performance automotive components, as well as precision machining equipment.