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Back on Track: 2021 PRI Show Preview

Since the 2020 trade show was cancelled due to Coronavirus concerns, the industry is more excited than ever to get back together and catch up from the last two years. We like to think of it like getting two for the price of one. Two years’ worth of products, two years of innovation, two years of motorsports technology, all to be shared in one show.

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From where we stand, skepticism about attendance can be dismissed. Everyone at Engine Builder and all of our industry contacts are excited and looking forward to going, and since the COVID-19 vaccinations have been available for a while now, overall concern is down. But to get an inside look, we rang up Jon Shakill, PRI’s marketing manager, to see how this year’s show will compare to years’ past.

“We expect attendance to be very strong at the PRI Show this year, as there is a lot of momentum and excitement about getting the industry back together in person to do business after two years apart,” Shakill says. “We’ve also seen many races with attendance up, in some cases above 2019 numbers. The city of Indianapolis is open and has had many successful large-scale events, which is great news for the PRI Show in December.”

Still, with the resounding effects from COVID-19, the question of safety and health measures always comes up at a public event. At the trade show, PRI will be following the health and safety guidelines that have been outlined by the Marion County Public Health Department, but they won’t be enforcing any measures that exceed those outlined by the county.

There are no current mask or vaccination orders, so that choice will be left to attendees. If any concerns arise during the show, COVID-19 testing will be available onsite at the Indiana Convention Center. For additional information, attendees can check “Know Before You Go” on the PRI website.

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Attendance will be strong, and there will be no shortage of exhibitors either. There are about 1,000 companies who will be exhibiting, all of which are excited to share their news and products with the industry.

“This is going to be the racing industry’s first in-person gathering since 2019, and it will provide businesses with the most significant opportunity to gather in one place,” Shakill says. “There are many exciting new features at the PRI Trade Show that will continue to provide value to those in attendance and their businesses in advance of the 2022 racing season.”

We all live and breathe engines and performance, but every morning my stomach does the talking, so you can bet I was pumped to hear what Jon said next. “We are excited about what we believe will be the best grand opening breakfast ever planned for the PRI Show,” he says. “The keynote speakers at the breakfast will be Roger Penske and IMS President Doug Boles.” Roger Penske and the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? That’s awesome in my book, and I’m sure the food will be great too!

Grab a coffee for the road, it’s time for education, a popular part of the PRI Trade Show. The education program this year will have sessions designed to equip both large and small motorsports operations with the technical and business expertise needed to elevate their programs and boost their performance on and off the racetrack.

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In addition to the education program, Shakill described many of the new elements that will take place at the 2021 PRI Show. There will be the Content Creation Zone and accompanying Content Creation Stage, where speakers will help educate and inspire PRI attendees to become successful content creators to help showcase their brand.

There will also be an Electric Vehicle Performance Zone, several special guests, influencers and celebrities, and the Featured Product Awards – a new version of the awards program.

Did someone say happy hour? There will be a planned happy hour for all show attendees with special new elements, a new TOPS (Track Operators, Promoters, and Sanctioning Bodies) Workroom and Lounge and a new PRI Members Lounge. “In addition to the great new show features, just getting the entire racing industry back together to network and do business is very exciting,” Shakill admits.

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An ongoing hot topic for the industry is the RPM Act, designed to protect race cars from the long arm of the EPA, and it almost goes without saying that there will be discussion of it at this year’s show, but we still asked Shakill what they had planned.

“Yes, there will be a PRI Education Seminar on the topic titled ‘Update on RPM Act & Emissions Compliance,’” he told us. “There will also be an all-new Political Action Committee Party happening for PRI Members, as well as plenty of opportunities to unite to protect racing through joining PRI Membership. We’ve heard concern from all sides of the industry. This is what led to the new membership program from PRI. We feel this is the best way to unite all the corners of the racing community under one organization, so we can advocate to lawmakers on behalf of protecting racing and the businesses in the industry.”

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It’s clear that PRI is well-prepared for this show. If you’ve been there, you know what to expect. If not, there’s no better way to sum it up than with an enthusiastic description from Shakill.

“This is where the entire racing industry comes together under one roof, from businesses large and small, to race teams, buyers, and industry VIPs,” Shakill says. “The products on display represent the latest innovations in racing and include all types of critical parts needed to get an edge on the competition. Big engines, every part imaginable, new product innovation, and the latest in racing tech – that’s what it’s all about when the industry comes together to do business and network at the PRI Show. PRI really does gather people and companies from all different genres of racing in one place.”

There will be trailer exhibits and machinery exhibits too. Educational seminar topics will range from the technical side such as the Fundamentals and Design of Engine Bearings to business topics such as Employee Hiring and Retention. There will be Youth Motorsports Development, Social Media Training, the 5th Annual Women in Motorsports Panel and the State of the Racing Industry, just to name a few.

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Fire up the hot rod and get ready to hit the road. Destination: Indianapolis. Engine Builder will be there too. Come see us at booth 5110. EB

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