December 9, 2018
Highlights from the 2018 Performance Racing Industry Trade Show (PRI) at Indy
When I found that many folks I knew were headed for the trade show which has as its theme “The Business of Racing Begins Here” I needed to hear from them some of their highlights and comments about the show.
You may recall from prior episodes Van Buren native Phil LaPointe has spent his career at Honda including a multi-year stint with Honda Performance Development in England and California. He now is back at Honda Research and Development Americas at their Raymond, Ohio location.
Phil was only able to spend one day at the show, Friday December 7, due to work scheduling. He has attended the last 3 shows at Indy and remains a dedicated “gearhead” through and through. He made the 3 hour trip from his home in Ohio and was able to spend 8 hours at PRI.
While at the show, LaPointe was able to meet Brett Alexander at the AR Bodies booth. He commented that the Valvoline sponsored car looked nice.
He noted that the show was at least a two-day walk around adventure for someone who wanted to get a good overall look at a majority of the 1,100 exhibitors. After being at the show from 9 am to 5 pm he noted that his senses were being numbed by sensory overload.
The crowd was such that in the afternoon, the halls were packed making it a little difficult to maneuver. I have been at the Convention Center with the National FFA Convention and can vouch that despite a huge facility the crowd can be at times overwhelming. I heard estimates of 30,000 plus. (60,000 at National FFA Convention)
One of LaPointe’s reasons for being at the trade show, in addition to being on the lookout for new technology, was the Honda Performance development announcements. “HPD had a Formula 3/Formula 4 press event. The F4 has sold well (I heard around 80 cars over the last couple of years) and every race will have full grids. They are trying to have 20+ F3 cars on the grids this year, and this will be a challenge. The F3 chassis, engine, and gearbox are very different to handle the higher horsepower and cornering speeds and the price is around 2X.”
“HPD had a Formula 3 car and the Formula 3 engine on display. Sam Schmidt (Schmidt-Peterson Racing, SPM) and Ericsson, the new SPM IndyCar driver, were there.”
” HPD is trying to launch an Ignite class. Margay Ignite cart with a GX 200 engine based on the popular Briggs LC206 Ignite class. There was a kart on display and has much more horsepower than the Briggs.”
Austin Theriault was at the show. When snow cancelled flights back to Charlotte, he and Wyatt Alexander rented a car and drove back. According to Wyatt they arrived back in Charlotte about 3 am. For racers that can be a typical night’s travel. I thought it was great that the two Maine racers with roots in the County could spend time together.
Theriault mentioned, ” The attendance was great again this year which is hopefully a good indicator for the interest and involvement in the 2019 motorsports seasons across the country.”
The driver of the WAR #96 said, “PRI was great as usual. I was only able to make it there for Saturday because of school obligations but it was great to be there.” They had to leave their car and trailer at Tom Patsis’ Cold Hard Art shop in Brownsburg until Brett would fly out to pick it up later this month.
WAR Crew Chief, Bob Alexander was my “deputized” on-the-spot reporter at the show. Here are a few of his remarks,” If someone had told me as recently a one year ago that we (Wyatt Alexander Racing) would have a race car on display at the PRI show I would have questioned their sanity. It is truly amazing to me that we, as well as several partners, have been able to make this opportunity a reality.”
” In the early fall Brett had conversations with Norm Desjardin of the Body Shop in New Hampshire regarding the use of our super late-model in the AR Bodies booth at this year’s PRI show. We realized that this would be a fantastic opportunity to showcase our car and driver, our newest sponsor, Valvoline Oil, our chassis builder, Clattenburg Race Fabrication (CRF Chassis) and our long time supporter, AR Bodies of Greenbrier, Tennessee.”
“Many things had to occur in order for the car to be ready in time for the show. The chassis would need to be stripped of its current body, cleaned and re-skinned with the latest offerings for pavement late-model race cars from ARBodies. That included body panels, interior bracing, supports as well as a new wrap.”
Following the 9th place finish at the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) finale at Hickory on November 14th, Alexander mentioned the people responsible for getting the car ready saying, “The car was returned to CRF in Salisbury, North Carolina where Wyatt, Randy White, Dean Clattenburg and Jody Measemer performed the body swap. Dale Averill of DA1 designs came up with a phenomenal rendering featuring the red and blue Valvoline Oil colors and featuring Valvoline on the rear quarters.”
“New wheels donated by Basset Racing Wheels were shipped to CRF. New tires donated by American Racer had to be shipped to CRF and mounted. All of this work was completed with the highest level of craftsmanship in time for us to pick up the car and transport it to Indianapolis, Indiana in time for Tuesday December 3rd.”
“As a side note, several hundred attendees and vendors had nothing but good to say about the car, the body and the outstanding wrap that was performed by Chad Martin of One on One Brand.”
“In talking with Wyatt’s 5 year-old sister Quinn on Monday, her parting comment was ‘I hope that you win’.”
“Highlights of the PRI show for me included breakfast with Dave Despain, Al Unser Jr. and Al Unser Sr. The opportunity to view the latest offering of High Performance components and speak with people who were able to explain the benefits of their products, meeting with old friends and some Maine connections such as Phillip LaPointe with Honda R&D Americas and the networking which took place with our marketing partners, fellow competitors, officials and tour operators.”
Swanson Awarded Fourth USAC Silver Crown Championship
Regular readers of UpNorth Motorsports know that I follow the racing career of Kody Swanson from Kingsburg, California now living in Indianapolis. Swanson recently won his fourth USAC Silver Crown Championship in a year which saw him win five races in a row and rack up a total of 24 wins breaking the 30 year record of Jack Hewitt.
The USAC Banquet is held in conjunction with the PRI Show though not an official event. This year’s ceremony was held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis Friday evening. In addition to USAC Silver Crown awards were given in all of the USAC sanctioned divisions.
The #63 Silver Crown entry of car owner Bob Hampshire was permanently retired to honor the multiple time champion. Hampshire was Swanson’s team owner in each of the four championship driver years and won the owners points championship in 2016 despite Swanson finishing second to driving champion Chris Windom.
County kart racers gather awards at weekend ceremonies
Let’s go racing,
Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)