SEMA News—June 2021

BUSINESS

PRI Announces the Return of Its Trade Show—and More

Q&A With PRI President Dr. Jamie Meyer on the Show, an Exciting New Membership Program and Racing Advancement

By Mike Imlay

PRI
The return of the annual PRI Trade Show to Indianapolis this
coming December 9–11 is welcome news for the racing
industry, but PRI has been busy rolling out other major new
programs to protect and grow racing businesses of all types.

The recent announcement that the PRI Trade Show is set to return to the Indianapolis Convention Center this December 9–11 marks yet another milestone in a busy year for the company. First, Dr. Jamie Meyer was named PRI president in late spring 2020. Shortly after his arrival, the company launched a series of targeted programs to assist racing businesses and operations suddenly impacted by the pandemic. Among them was the PRI Ambassador Program—an aggressive campaign specially created to help racetrack operators navigate local, state and federal rules required to reopen safely.

Then, in October, PRI announced the launch of its Road Tour, an unprecedented cross-country journey that brought a vanload of content creators to the doorsteps of nearly 100 racing and performance shops, teams, tracks and businesses. The result was a more than two-month media blitz that allowed visited companies large and small to tell their stories, reveal new products, and showcase their operations during trying times. The innovative tour was so successful that a 2.0 version is now in the works for 2021.

Meanwhile, with planning for the Indianapolis show moving forward, PRI also introduced a groundbreaking membership program for motorsports professionals designed to further unite the industry on a number of important fronts, including legislative advocacy, business resources, career development, educational opportunities, and cost-savings initiatives. For example, exhibitors at this year’s PRI Trade Show can take advantage of a comprehensive list of benefits that includes discounted booth space, which in most cases covers the cost of PRI membership.

For a deeper perspective on these many developments, SEMA News sat down for a brief Q&A interview with Meyer. The following is a recap, edited for clarity and conciseness.

Jamie Meyer
Racing-industry veteran Dr. Jamie
Meyer was named PRI president in
2020 and has since overseen a series
of targeted initiatives to help racing
businesses impacted by the pandemic
and other challenges.

SEMA News: PRI recently made the major announcement that its annual PRI Trade Show is returning to Indianapolis this year. Would you like to comment on those plans?

Jamie Meyer: Cancelling the show last year was really tough. It was the right decision, but it impacted a lot of companies that use the PRI Show for their main marketing and sales activation for the year. So this year, we’re excited at where Indianapolis stands as far as safety—being able to open up some while keeping people safe.

Indianapolis landed the entire NCAA Men’s Tournament. Some of us were there for the Final Four championship games just to see their safety protocols, including how many folks can come together and still be safe. Keep in mind that a lot of these event venues are exactly where we hold our Show, so that’s impactful. Also, they’ll have hosted some 15,000- to 25,000-attendee trade shows by midyear, which is very relevant to PRI. Plus, the vaccine is certainly expected to help as more people are protected from COVID-19.

In the meantime, organizers of all the trade shows that take place in Indianapolis are also being brought together in a coalition to exchange ideas for keeping everyone safe, so there’s really good momentum in Indy for folks who work in and visit the city. Indy’s marketing arm is also great. They have the same goal we do, which is to bring folks together as safely as possible.

SN: Judging from people in the industry with whom we’ve spoken, the Show was definitely missed last year.

JM: You don’t really know how much you miss something until it’s gone. I’ve been to the last 25 PRI Shows. They’re some of the most memorable times I’ve had. My best friends are at the PRI Trade Show, and some of the best business deals I’ve ever done were at the show. It’s very personal for me. It’s a community of racers from around the world, so folks will be excited to get back together, spend quality time with one another, see product, do business, get new ideas, see new technology, and open their minds. That’s what the show has meant for 32 years.

SN: Obviously, PRI launched the Road Tour as an alternative in 2020. Will it continue as a component of this year’s show?

JM: The Road Tour was a wild success for us. It was put together in a very short time but was a simple concept. Instead of gathering in Indianapolis, we took the PRI Trade Show to industry manufacturers across the country and got great media content from them. People followed it online because they wanted to know what all the other companies were going through and what they were doing. A lot of companies used it to launch new products, which was exactly the intention.

For 2021, we’ll bring the Road Tour back and start earlier in the summer so we can get to the races and do some great racing coverage. We have the best content creators in the world—DriveLine Studios, with Justin Cesler and his team. There are a lot of smaller communities in racing, but they all like to see what’s happening on national and international levels. We’ll share our race coverage and the many stories found throughout our industry and build a lot of momentum going into the PRI Trade Show.

SN: Another announcement is PRI’s new membership program—a big change. Can you discuss the program’s goals and why you launched it?

JM: The PRI membership proposal came two years ago from the PRI task force put together by [then-SEMA Chairman of the Board] Wade Kawasaki. The task force came up with multiple ways to improve the racing industry, and a membership program to bring the racing community together was among the top priorities. It took a couple of years to execute, but I was thrilled when we broke the news in March. There has been great support from the SEMA Board of Directors under Chairman Tim Martin and the PRI Advisory Committee, whose chairman is Chris Douglas.

The goal is to really bring the community of racers together for the common good of racing. It’s not going to surprise anyone that there are a lot of threats to the racing industry right now. We saw some economic threats during the pandemic, and PRI launched multiple programs to help the tracks and manufacturers, but now we’ve got government regulations coming around again. We have Environmental Protection Agency agents visiting manufacturers of race products, and we have a nervous racing industry. Racers, small local tuners and engine builders are concerned that a knock on their door could shut them down. So advocacy and education are primary membership goals.

SN: We understand that membership will also carry other benefits.

JM: Yes, we’re going to treat it like any other good membership program, with benefits in the form of discounts for the PRI Trade Show and the advertising opportunities we offer. We’ll help with other discounts as well, such as insurance rates for small-business owners or finding discounts on fuel and travel to help these folks get to the races. That said, education, legal support and advocacy to engage elected officials will be the primary benefits right out of the gate.

SN: And you’ll be offering several forms of membership, correct?

JM: Yes, and this is the exciting part. We’ll start with those racing businesses that will be PRI Trade Show exhibitors, because we already have that relationship. We’ll get them signed for the show with membership and a 10% discount on booth space. We have a lot of companies excited to join and do the right thing to support their industry.

Next, we’ll extend membership to any other racing business that isn’t an exhibitor at PRI. We have 65,000 folks who come to the Show. A lot of them are small-business owners who don’t display, but they come to see the manufacturers. For example, there are race teams that are well funded, or engine builders who don’t need to display but who want to see the latest technology.

Around July 2021, we’re also going to offer the first-ever individual membership for the racing industry. That means racers, fans and anyone who wants to enjoy and protect this lifestyle will have an organization to join so that when you want to go racing or build a race car, the opportunity is there to do it.

SN: At this point, SEMA News readers will probably be interested in whether their SEMA membership accesses any PRI programs.

JM: At the suggestion of the PRI advisory committee, we’ll extend a two-year complimentary membership to SEMA members, so they can sign up for free and become a PRI business member. You must be a paying PRI member to get the PRI Show discount, which I hope everyone will understand. We’ve always had some overlap with our exhibitors and SEMA companies at the PRI Show, but now every SEMA member can also be a PRI member.

SN: We also see that PRI is launching a Founding Member option. Can you share a few details about that?

PRI
In lieu of its 2020 PRI Trade Show in Indy, the company created
the PRI Road Tour to take the Show experience to industry
businesses across the nation. Hugely successful, the Road Tour
is back this year as a lead-up to the returning Show.

JM: We have different pricing for a Business Membership that ranges from $295 to $995 a year, but we also wanted to offer a higher membership level that recognizes those companies that are dedicated to the racing industry. The Founding Membership is a $25,000 commitment payable over 10 years. You get all the benefits of a Business Membership, but we’re also developing a Founding-Member network to connect these industry leaders so they can get to know each other. Then I’ll be doing special events at PRI just for Founding Members, and there will be several other surprises along the way for those who want to be at the highest level of commitment to the racing industry.

Ultimately, this is about gaining maximum impact for our industry in those certain halls of Washington, D.C.— buildings that make a lot of the decisions affecting us. This is a way for people to raise their hands and say, “I want to do something to help my industry.”

SN: Along with advocacy, you emphasized education. What do you plan to offer members in that area?

JM: We have several levels of education in mind. We’ll continue to leverage the experts who already exist in our industry to share all their knowledge. We do that really well at the PRI Trade Show with a full three days of educational programing. In 2020, we livestreamed our education because it was an unusual year. We’re going to expand that for our members. We’ll offer programs online quarterly.

We’re also reaching out to higher-learning institutions with specific programs for racing-industry people. Imagine a shop owner who is really good at working on cars and has already developed a business but still may want to pick up some mechanical engineering classes nights and weekends. Those are the types of things we’d like to offer. And then there are those business courses for subjects such as accounting and marketing, or possibly higher degrees in engineering or business. We want to find schools that can offer that. As race cars get smarter, so will we.

SN: Earlier, you alluded to the different legal issues that racing businesses may face. How can PRI help with those?

JM: Our members will have access to the free PRI hotline for short, generalized questions regarding legal topics. The hotline is designed for general information and education that could help resolve simple issues or identify the need for legal counsel.

I have to point out that it is advisory only, does not constitute legal advice, and doesn’t convey attorney-client privilege. Still, it’s a benefit that we believe members may find useful, and we hope they will familiarize themselves with all
its details.

SN: We’ve covered a lot of ground here. Would you like to offer any final
comments?

JM: Just to say that our new membership program is the first of it’s kind. There’s never been anything like this for the racing community, ever. This is a chance for circle track, drag racing, drifting, tractor pull—whatever your flavor—to come together and realize that if one member of the racing community faces a problem today, it could be your problem tomorrow. We want to address that through education, advocacy and many other types of initiatives here at PRI.

QRConnecting With PRI

To learn more about all the latest PRI Trade Show developments, visit
www.performanceracing.com.

You’ll not only find direct links for the PRI Trade Show, the Business Membership program and the PRI Road Tour, but also many other performance-racing resources.

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