2016 PERFORMANCE RACING INDUSTRY SHOW - EVENT NOTEBOOK
BIG, BIG BUSINESS - Despite a brisk wind bringing wind chill values into the single digits and the first snow flurries of the year painting the Indianapolis skyline a wintery white, tens of thousands of motorsports professionals came out in force for the 29th annual trade-only event that truly lived up to its billing as the three biggest days in racing.
The 29th annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show brought the racing trade to Indianapolis for several days worth of business, networking and speed solutions that left attendees and exhibitors marveling at the quantity and quality of activity in and around the Indiana Convention Center.
Dozens of conferences, seminars and special events filled a highly acclaimed Race Industry Week, which culminated on December 8 with a three-day Show offering a one-of-a-kind marketplace for thousands of the latest race parts, services and equipment.
WHAT'S NEW AT QUARTER MAX - The folks at Quartermax and RJ Race Cars had some shiny new toys to show off for 2017.
Their Extreme Pro Series 2” Splined Anti-Roll Bar Kit is what they consider the most universal heavy-duty splined anti-roll bar kit available on the market.
Engineered to provide superior strength for high horsepower and heavy car applications, this kit features a 2” OD x .250” wall 4130 tubing with self-aligning spherical bearing mounts and billet splined 4130 arms.
The Extreme Pro Series 2” Splined Anti-Roll Bar Kit is universal in the fact that the 2” anti-roll bar tubing can be to cut to any width and finished out by welding the billet splined hub ends to each end of the tube to create any custom width splined anti-roll bar shaft. The splined hubs are made of 4130 and are gun drilled to save weight. The anti-roll bar mounts on two spherical bearings, that are housed in the provided steel bearing cups, which can be mounted to the chassis with the supplied bracketry and bolts.
The kit also includes all the necessary 4130 tube adapters (LH and RH), 4130 rod ends, tubing and mounts to fabricate the anti-roll links to the proper length to attach to the rear end housing. Available in tube lengths of 24” and 36”. Custom length tubes are available, please call for pricing.
Also at PRI, the RJ extreme adjustable 4-link kit weld-on chassis bracket utilizes a unique bolt-on system that allows both top and bottom plates to move up and down in increments of 1/8" giving an infinite amount of adjustability. They offer 3 styles of weld-on billet chassis brackets, available in different heights for the center-to-center of the chassis crossmembers.
HONEY I'M HOME - Rickie Jones announced at the conclusion of the 2016 season, he'd be stepping away from full-time on the road. Or at least, Jones will return when his dad Rickie Jones, crew chief for Elite Performance needs a break, and for the six race Countdown to the Championship.
"I just told the team, back in Indy, that I couldn’t commit to another full season." Jones said. "Just we’re so busy at work and it’s really hard for both dad and me to be gone all the time, you know. As much as I enjoy being there, and everybody’s like family, it’s just hard to be gone. You know, and even this year, we struggled performance-wise. It really has nothing to do with that. Because even the year before, in 2015, when we were, seemed like we were winning almost every single race, it was always like on Wednesdays, it was like man, how are we going to leave tomorrow?"
SNIPER FIRE - Every year there is a lot of excitement in the Holley booth over the latest in electronic fuel injection.
And this year was no exception as Holley introduced the new Sniper EFI system, an economically priced line that gives racers all of the benefits of EFI with a little leftover to continue upgrades to your ride. The new system is perfect for street rods, muscle cars, off-road trucks and nearly all carbureted vehicle.
“The Sniper EFI system works up to 600 horsepower. It is a plug-and-play type deal with a return line, oxygen sensor and a map sensor. It it easy to set throttle position, fuel pressure regulator zone. The computer will ask a few questions, you answer them and go. Everything is dialed in, so you start the engine and start running,” said Ray Crunk of Holley Performance Products.
The system starts at $999.
COPO LOVE - As always, one of the highlights of the PRI Trade Show is the opportunity to see the new rides from major race teams and manufacturers.
And this year was no exception.
On display in the Chevrolet Performance booth was the 2017 Chevy COPO Camaro in a beautiful blue that had racers and fans alike admiring the latest ride from the folks at Chevy.
“This 2017 COPO is serial number one,” said Curt Collins, Assistant Marketing Manager with Chevy Performance. “This car is going to Barrett Jackson here in a few weeks for the United Way charity. After that we will be building 68 more just like it. We will have a random lottery to determine who gets them and people can register at chevrolet.com/performancecopo. They will come in three different engines from a 6.2 liter to the 357 supercharged engine. This car can cover the quarter-mile in the 8.6 to 8.7 range at 160 miles per hour.”
TWO MORE - The NHRA announced during the PRI Trade Show that its Pro Mod Series will increase from 10 to 12 races next year, with the most recent addition being Kansas’ Heartland Park in Topeka.
GAME CHANGER - Described as a “game changer” by Rick Zwieg, sales and tech manager at Dart, the new SHP LS Next Block is being billed as a great starting point for hot rodders, drag racers, circle track competitors, off roaders and pretty much anyone in the high performance world.
“The new cast aluminum cylinder head. It is a brand new splayed valve cylinder head with a 10 degree valve angle ready to be assembled. It has a 368 cc intake runner flowing in excess of 450 cfm. Basically this is a cylinder head that takes a different valve train setup. Something that is unique about it is that the intake and the exhaust valve locations are flipped. So it takes a cam shaft, instead of the intake load being where it is, that is now going to be the exhaust load,” Zwieg said. “That cylinder head is going to be a game changer. That is a serious piece. It is essentially a piece that you can 9,500 RPMs. It is almost like NASCAR technology that you can use for a drag racing application.”
RACING ALL OVER THE WORLD - For many drivers, just getting to the big stage is enough. For others, that aspiration extends far beyond the confines of their home track - even beyond the borders of this very country.
For Ron Hope, driver of the Rat Trap Fuel Altered, he has dreamed of sharing his passion with the world.
And that is exactly what he is going.
Entertaining fans for more than five decades, Hope has made it his mission to share the sights, sounds, smells and sheer excitement of his unique ride with the world. And he is accomplishing that mission through the help of his son, Brian, and many fellow friends and family as Hope takes the world-famous Rat Trap on tour around the world.
In the past year alone, Hope’s Rat Trap has made appearances in Germany, New Zealand and England, in additional to the United States in Canada. He hopes to add Sweden to the list later this year.
“Right now we have three identical cars. At one point earlier this year we had one car on display, another performing in Germany and another in Canada all on the same night,” Hope said with a laugh. “It is hard to describe. Two weeks ago my car was on display at the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Now we are preparing to go to New Zealand and considering a trip to Sweden next year. And we will start it all at the March Meet next season.”
He has done burnouts in front of royalty in England and regional fans on small strips across the United States. He has raced from the world famous Hockenheimring to tiny strips in the middle of America’s heartland. But through it all, his love of racing has never waned and he won’t stop until he brings his passion to as many fans around the world as he possibly can.
“This is what I love and I want to bring that joy to as many people as I can for as long as I can,” Hope said. “From one shore to another, race fans aren’t all that different. They all share a common bond - a love for speed and excitement.”
SOUND BITES: J.R. TODD - We caught up with J.R. Todd, new driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, about his excitement in moving from Top Fuel over to Funny Car and the challenge of making the switch:
“It’s been an exciting and wide open offseason so far. Making the change to a Nitro Funny Car, I am really looking forward to it. I went out to Bakersfield last weekend and drove Del and Chuck’s family car to get my license out of the way so we didn’t have to wait on that going into the Phoenix test. It’s definitely a more challenging car to drive compared to a Top Fuel car. You have got to be up on the wheel and anticipate where it is going. You can’t see as well either. It is definitely a learning curve. You have to train your mind. I just want to get some laps under my belt.” (***Photo - T.J. Coughlin***)
SOUND BITES: T.J. COUGHLIN - We talked with T.J. Coughlin about securing a ride in the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster for the 2017 season:
“It is extremely exciting. I am very lucky how everything fell into place. I have much more learning to do, which is the best part. It’s a big challenge. It’s a world of difference the way the car operates, the way it works, the way the crew works. So we are going to take it one foot at a time. I have some great teachers in J.R. and Doug and everyone, so I am very fortunate.”
COOL NEW GADGETS - PRI is all about checking out the latest and greatest products on the market.
From wheels to race trailers, you never know what you are going to find at the show. And one of the booths you are almost always assured to find a cool new gadget for your ride is Racepak. This year, Racepak unveiled a newly redesigned virtual dash app, plus a heart monitor and other products that make life on the track a little easier - and a lot more fun.
“We have several new products in our booth this year, but one we are actually most excited about was actually out last year in our dash app. We are continually updating that product,” said Tim Anderson, President of Racepak. “When we first came out with it, we made it to resemble the IP3 dash and the fuel teams were saying they just needed one with a bunch of inputs and one they can make their own. We actually just completed that this week. On the way to the show the guy that writes all of our code for our apps sent it over and this one gives you four pages of 12 inputs each, you can define the colors, the backgrounds, the text can be changed - everything can be changed on the sliders. It is really cool.
“We also have a heart rate monitor we brought out and tested a little earlier this year and we are already having some interesting findings. We tested it on Antron Brown and interestingly the heart rate goes up the most when they are backing up from the burnout. Not when they first start the car, not when they are staging. At first we thought the thing wasn’t working right, so we go out and run it again and it did the same thing. The heart rate would start here, it would go up when you started the car, it would go up when you did the burnout and then it shoots up when they are backing up. I don’t know if they are just thinking about everything that is about to happen, but it is interesting the things we have learned.” (***Photo - Liberty***)
RACING ON A BUDGET - From high end performance parts to budget products, you are always assured to find what you are looking for at PRI.
And that is what makes the show so attractive to potential buyers - you can find exactly what you need. For the racer looking for high-end performance parts on a budget, Liberty Engine Parts always helps racers find what they are looking for.
“We have a very nice line of aluminum cylinder heads for small block Chevy, small block Ford, big block Chevy - they are very economical without sacrificing quality,” said Joe Giova, Tech Director at Liberty. “They are a nice option for someone who is trying to get into racing on a budget. We have a really nice crankshaft line too. We deal directly with the manufacturer, everything on them is spec by us. They are all great options and very economical.”
ONE FAST TREE - One of the joys of the PRI show is that you never quite know what you are going to see. From unique racers to state-of-the-art new products, there is always something that catches the eye.
And this year was no exception.
Sitting all by itself, roped off from the general public, shiny, with four wheels and a couple of jet engines on the back sat a log. Yes, a giant, 2,206 pound log.
Dubbed the Pioneer Cedar Rocket, this unique ride was created from a single Western Red Cedar log cut in British Columbia, Canada. The Red Cedar tree that provided the log was born in 1776, making the Pioneer Cedar Rocket body roughly 240 years old.
Carved by hand using a Husqvarna chainsaw and chisels, and weighing in at a whopping 2,206 pounds, the Pioneer Cedar Rocket set a Guinness World Speed record as the fastest log in the world on January 20, 2016, reaching a speed of 55 mph behind the power of two Buffalo Turbines creating a wind speed of up to 180 mph
The Pioneer Cedar Rocket will be auctioned off at Barrett Jackson 2017, with all proceeds going to non-profit groups that serve military veterans.
FROM PAPER TO PRODUCT - Always exciting is when big dreams and unique designs make their way from distant thought, to sketch design, to full production.
There is nothing better than seeing a new product come to life, and PRI gives companies a unique opportunity to debut that design on the show floor.
“We are really excited about our new brushless Pro Series Pumps designed from a blank piece of paper. They are a spur gear pump, they now have an inline pump is a flow-through style pump that will support a tremendous amount of horsepower. Forced induction or naturally aspirated, it doesn’t matter what kind of fuel it is because it is a brushless design,” said Jack Hylton, CEO of Aeromotive. “Another one of our products we came out with here recently is the carbureted phantom. It takes our patented bladder system that goes inside of a tank and you can run a returnless style deal so you only have one line going up to you regulator and carburetor and no return line. Offers many options that people can have to make it easy.”
AEROMOTIVE, WATERMAN JOIN FORCES - After 49 years of running Waterman Racing Components, president Sid Waterman will now serve as an advisor and consultant for Aeromotive in a joint venture.
Aeromotive and Waterman Racing Components on Thursday announced a partnership that will allow both companies to incorporate their design experience and research and development.
“The two companies will not be merged, but continue to run autonomously,” said Aeromotive President Steve Matusek. “The reason this was such a make-sense decision is that there is very little overlap in the markets we serve, even in the way we go to market.”
FROM THE SHOWROOM TO THE WINNERS CIRCLE - Not to be outdone by its Chevrolet counterpart, Ford had on display its brand new 2017 Cobra Jet Mustang.
In a beautiful blue, Ford’s Dave Born, Engineering Manager for Ford Performance Parts, went into detail about the cars on display, plus what folks can expect in 2017.
“This car we have on display is really our driving parts car. Almost everything we have in our catalogs for the new Mustangs is on this car. The biggest item on it and the thing we are most proud on this car is the engine, our 5.2 liter Illuminator XS, it is a cross plane 5.2 liter engine with many parts sourced from the five two and the GT350, but with some smart enhancements to it,” Born said. “This thing makes about 580 horsepower the way it is delivered. This car is a lot of run to drive and we have got it made into an automatic transmission, the first time we have done an automatic car like this.”
On the drag racing side, Born described just how easy it is to take one of the Cobra Jets from the showroom floor to the winners circle.
“We do great with drag racing. This year we delivered our 2016 and one of the very first cars we delivered back in March went to a guy who took it to Bradenton. He lives in Texas and he pretty much picked the car up in Michigan, drove down to Florida, one day of test and tune with it and won the Cobra Jet Shootout with it. Really proud of those cars.”
SOUND BITES: MATT HAGAN - We caught up with Matt Hagan, driver of the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, and asked what he was up to during the off season:
“It’s been one of those things where you just catch your breath. You are just non-stop all the time during the season, so when I get back I am able to just focus on cattle, my wife and the kids and baby. It’s also nice to come back out here and see everybody at PRI. I haven’t been in years and it is nice to unwind and see so many people you don’t see all of the time. But here in February, next thing you know you are on a plane and ready to go again. When we get to Phoenix, it will be nice to get back behind the wheel, but after being out of a car for two months, no matter how many times you have run, those first couple of laps back out there, it is still 300 mph and you are reminded real quick, whoa, this is fast.”
SOUND BITES: ERICA ENDERS - After a one year experiment with Dodge in 2016, Erica Enders and teammate Jeg Coughlin are returning to Chevy in 2017, home of a winning combination that produced two consecutive championships for Enders. So what are here thoughts about 2017? We asked her just that:
“We are really excited. It’s obviously a proven combination. I’m going to start the year in my 2014 championship car. It is a car I am familiar with and we got along just fine, so I’m excited to drive her again. As for Jeggie, we are building him a brand new Rick Jones Chevy Camaro that will be done prior to Pomona. What can I say? Pro Stock is a humbling class. It goes in cycles. You can look back in the history of it, when people are on top, then it changes directions. What we went through in 2016 would have killed most teams, but it made my team stronger. It didn’t change my mindset at all. I still climbed in that car fully expecting to send whoever was in the other lane packing. The bottom line was, we didn’t have the power to get there. But we are looking forward to next year. I feel like predictions make you put your foot in your mouth, but we will let the scoreboard do the talking. I still have the same solid group of guys behind me. I am calling it operation 2017 world championship.”
STRANGE! - Looking for a little extra life in your gear life? Look no further than the boys and girls at Strange Engineering.
With a large, colorful booth filled with helpful employees, a few Strange employees were happy to help point out their newest products that help improve life in your car.
“We have a new modular housing and we are going to have some wider width options, we are going to have 18 and 19-inch, four-link centers and wider wheel-to-wheel packages that should be out in spring time, said Strange's Jeff Stange. "Right now we have 16 and 17 inch four-link centers with the radial tires being popular classes we need to widen it up. The billet case, that was here last year, but it has been proven now to improve gear life. We are getting roughly a 30-50 percent improvement in gear life in Pro Mod applications. We are seeing Pro Mods with 100 runs on a gear set with no changes. I am sure it could be pushed farther, but so far they are at 100 runs and satisfied with that.”
WILD WORLD OF WELD - One of the more interesting booths at the PRI show is Weld Wheels.
With a couple of unique cars in the booth, plus an attractive display, folks are always filling in and out of Weld’s world. But it is not just the unique booth that brings in racers and fans, it is their products that keep bringing people back. Especially on the drag racing scene.
“We have two wheels here this weekend really directed at the drag market, modern street drag racing. First, the easiest thing is the 17 inch RTS beadlock. Going to independent rear suspension, all of the modern cars with modern brakes, it is getting harder and harder to package the traditional 15, 10 around that. So the 17 RTS beadlock we are following the trends of the industry, the car makers, making sure that we are able to 2017 and 2018 car owners with something that is going to work,” said Chris Bovis, VP of Marketing Business Development at Weld. “Same beadlock technology, it is our ultralight design so everything you know from either our drag race beadlocks just 17 inches.
“The other thing that is pretty cool is the RTS Wheel. RTS is typically three pieces welded together. This is a one piece wheel and what we are able to do very specifically on like the Hellcat and the Z06, when you are welding three pieces together the outer rim shells, to get it around the brakes of the Z06, the Hellcat, the Z01, it is very difficult to have a true outer rim shell onto a center and still fit and not go outside the fender. So what we have done is taken some of the forgings from the CCW side of the business and started making matching designs so this is an RTS S77 just in a mono block to fit on the more modern cars with the gigantic brakes. So we get great brake clearance, matching styling and we are able to get something for those guys with a Hellcat.”
NEW LOOK FOR COURTNEY - Courtney Force will roll into the 2017 season with a familiar name emblazoned on her Chevrolet SS Funny Car.
The youngest daughter of 16-time NHRA champion John Force, will race with sponsorship from Advance Auto Parts, as part of a multi-year agreement announced on Friday at John Force Racing’s Brownsburg, Ind.-based facility.
“I am thrilled to be driving the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car starting in 2017,” Force said. “Last season, we made some big strides toward our first championship, and I am confident in my team led by my crew chiefs, Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson, and that next season can be even better.”
SAFETY FIRST - Not only is high performance a priority in racing, so is safety.
Dozens of safety companies were on hand in PRI providing the latest in fire suits, helmets, gloves and seats. At Taylor Safety, that market of keeping racers safe is one that is always changing with advancements in technology. And owner Dennis Taylor revels in the opportunity to meet with racers and learn all he can during shows like PRI
“We love seeing our customers. I am one of those guys that made his hobby his vocation, so it is exciting to see customers and learn all I can during shows like this,” Taylor said. “Our products and technology are always changing. This year we have a new, lighter SFI 20 suit design that seems to have gone over pretty well. There are always changes in the fuel classes of course, but we are also seeing more interest with our tractor pulls stuff and our dirt modified stuff.” (***Photo - Lizzy Musi***)
SOUND BITES: LIZZY MUSI - We caught up with Pro Mod racer Lizzy Musi and found out all she has going on leading into another year on the PDRA tour:
“Right now my car is over in the middle east, so this coming Tuesday I’m actually flying back over there to finish the season. We have about seven more races. We are actually partering up with AAP, we have some good plans. We have Lucas on board, Edelbrock and Frank Brandau is the car owner. Actually, the first two races I will be driving Rickie Smith’s car for a little substitute while my car is on its way back over here. We are going to run the PDRA series and other than that we are excited for next year.” (***Photo - Andrew Hines***)
SOUND BITES: ANDREW HINES - After just missing out on another championship in 2016, we found Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Andrew Hines and asked what is needed to put the team back on top next season:
“Our bikes have been kind of ill-handling lately. So we are going to work on some chassis stuff so we can stop scrubbing some ET on riding them and we can go a little quicker down the track. We are definitely keeping busy. I know all of the other teams aren’t sitting idle, so we aren’t either. It really never stops. It just seems like the whole year just keeps going and going, but we plan to be ready next year.”
FAST FLOW - To be fast, you need to get fuel moving fast.
That is exactly what Weldon hopes to provide to its customers. With a new pump coming out in March, plus a strong line of pumps, regulators and filters, Weldon is all about helping racers get going fast.
“We’ve got a new pump coming out in March. It is basically for import. The guys that don’t have room or the mechanical pump aspect where they are looking at seven gallons a minute. They don’t have that room. They need the fuel moving, but they don’t have the option. They can only run the electric pump. We will have one,” said Jim Craig, Racing Product Manager at Weldon. “At 80 psi, it is basically going to move about 6.87 gallons a minute, draw 42 amps. It is a solid piece for the guys that need that seven gallons a minute at 80 psi, for a turbocharged or blower application. Or if they are running on methanol. We’ve also got a small little replacement for other pumps in the market for like 800 horsepower for Super Pro or a bracket racer, a weekend warrior.”
CAM IT - Looking for some practical solutions for your LS engine?
Comp Cams may have the solution for you.
“Our LS1 and LS3 series rocker arm is something we have come up with new for the LS engines. The big deal with an LS engine, the rocket itself is limited to about 650,000 lift. When you go over that, or when you get into a more aggressive camshaft, we’ve now created this. It is a tremendous amount stronger than the factory piece, it will take away more than 650,000 lift, we’ve tested it way beyond 800,000. It is a really great upgrade and something that is priced right in the middle of the basic upgrade versus the full upgrade,” said Mark Campbell, Sales and Tech at Comp Cams. “Another item we have created in conjunction with this is our new XDA two-piece push rod. What it’s designed for is a non-adjustable rocker system. This pushrod here comes in six different kits and is adjustable in 232,000 increments and you can adjust those in 4,000 increments so you can get the exact length pushrod that you need for a non-adjustable rocker.
BOWLING FOR A CAUSE - Kicking off the PRI Trade Show week, Don Schumacher Racing gathered some of racing’s biggest stars for the annual Bowling for Riley event on Wednesday evening.
All proceeds benefitted Indiana’s Riley Hospital for Children as DSR stars Tony Schmacher, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon, Leah Pritchett, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., along with J.R. Todd, Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines and Cruz Pedregon gathered for a fun evening of bowling and fund raising. (***Photo - Moroso***)
ALL THE GOODS - Sometimes, you have a few parts to feature. Sometimes, you have them all.
For Moroso, several new and exciting pieces were on display at PRI and racers got a chance to get a look at them all.
“New style dry sump pump with the fuel pump provision on the back. Also a side mount sump pump, bolts run perpendicular to the shaft instead of in line, so it will be universal for like an LS or a five-liter Coyote modular engine. New crank trigger kits for the small block Chevy and small block Ford. Small block Ford timing pointers to round out our existing line. Duel inlet breather catch can. Duct shield for an LS for when you are doing a swap oil pan. Challenger Hellcat coolant tank for the supercharger. GM Gen 5 swag oil pan, brand new for the year, front sump swag for an LS,” said Jim Bianca, Regional Sales Manager for Moroso. “For the most part that is all of the newest stuff for this year.”
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR - Miss anything? Preparations are already undereway for the 2017 PRI Trade Show at the Indiana Convention Center, December 7-9.