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The PRI Show: The Greatest Car Show You’ve Never Heard Of

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By Rex Roy
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

For racers, December is the year’s only off month.

Series have crowned their champions. Drivers have parked their race haulers. Mechanics have planned on how to add to their tool chests. Aside from drivers making “silly season” moves, or teams closing sponsorship deals for the next season, December is quiet for racers.

Except for the three days of the annual PRI Show.

And here’s where you say, “The P-R-what show? Never heard of it.”

Prepare to be schooled…

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The Performance Racing Industry trade show is the year’s last big racing event.

When: December 9-11
Where: Indiana Convention Center (ICC)

Given the nature of racing, even in the face of Covid, the show is on. Show organizers are committed to following all local mandates, and as we published this article, Indianapolis was open for conventions. The city has safely accommodated dozens of major events since Covid landed on our shores back in 2020, including the Final Four, the Indy 500, and numerous large conventions.

So why should you make the trip to Indy in what’s typically the dreariest weather of the year? How about to see Roger Penske talking about racing with Doug Boles (President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and veteran broadcaster Ralph Sheheen? You can also catch Matt D’Andria - of Car Cast podcast fame - create one an episode live on-stage. .

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More of racing’s greatest names will be on on-hand, including NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, drag racing’s Erica Enders, IndyCar’s Conor Daily, and reality stars Farmtruck and AZN.

Popular returning PRI Show features include the outrageous Feature Vehicles (how about a 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II NASCAR or a 1973 Jeep Postal Delivery drag car with a 623-cid Chevrolet Big Block), New Feature Showcase, and the PRI Education Program Seminars that cover timely business challenges unique to racers, like winning sponsorships.

New for 2021 is PRI’s Content Creation Zone where successful social media influencers will present useful social media “how to’s” and best practices to help racers and businesses improve their content creation chops. Indy’s own Rogers Camera will also have a huge display of the latest cameras and tech with multiple show specials.

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Just as PRI welcomed in the visionaries who saw the opportunities in the diesel performance market, PRI has a new special display area called the EV Performance Zone. More than a dozen exhibitors will showcase the wide range of electric-powered performance vehicles including the Huff Motorsports 200+mph electric dragster (the fastest in the world), the all-new rally cross 1,170-horsepower FC1-X rally cross SUV, and an electric drift car sponsored by EV component manufacturer AEM.

As this story was published, around 1,000 exhibitors were confirmed. Expect a wide range of OEMs, manufactures, distributors, retailers and more, including Ford Performance, Holley, Callies, Forgeline Wheels, and Wilwood Racing. There will be scores of trailers, motor homes and haulers in the special display that fills Lucas Oil Stadium (next to the ICC). Every facet of the business of racing is covered, from race track development, event promotion, and more hardware and services that you ever knew existed.

Unlike traditional autoshows or hobbyist events (like Autorama or Good Guys shows), the PRI Show is a trade-only event. You can’t just walk in off the street.

However…there’s always a however. Apply for attendance if you’re an amateur racer (bracket racing counts), or if you sell (or could sell) goods or services retail or commercially to race tracks, racing teams, automotive component manufacturers, or if you provide (or could provide) services that racers, race teams, machine shops, car builders, or track owners might need (like legal, marketing, or accounting services, food, printed materials, etc.). Taking this approach will help you be welcomed into the Performance and Racing Industry community. Register HERE.

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Because the PRI Show was cancelled in 2020 (like nearly everything else), the 2021 gathering feels especially important to those in the industry. As clearly evident at other trade shows your author has recently attended, people are ready to get back together in person. Crowds could top 50,000 at PRI 2021.

Importantly, and appropriately, the Indiana Convention Center made important Covid-related upgrades to their facility, one of the largest of which was to their HVAC system. It now has hospital-grade filtration and runs 24-hours/day during events.

“After nearly two years apart, our industry is eager to be under one roof at the 2021 PRI Show,” said Karin Davidson, PRI Trade Show Director. “The special programs and new features will be great for the racers and the businesses that make up our industry.”  Drive in for the day, or the weekend, check it out!

If you’ve been to PRI before, the show is still free, but you do have to become a PRI Member to attend. Free and paid membership levels are available.

Because of the EPA’s assault on the performance vehicle market (find information on the PRI- and SEMA-supported RPM Act here and watch this video

PRI's new membership program is designed to support the trade group’s legislative advocacy. This is a key element needed to protect the performance and racing industry from government overreach. Paying PRI members also get special perks at the show, including access to the PRI Members Lounge and discounts on PRI swag.

PRI Membership creates a unified voice for the racing industry. Now more than ever, given the challenges the motorsports community currently faces, it is important that we unite to advocate on behalf of the industry,” said PRI President Dr. Jamie Meyer. “And of course, I’m looking forward to connecting in person with all of the businesses and individuals who will be the show.”

Hope to see you there. The Auto Channel will report from the PRI Show floor, so stay tuned.