2019 PERFORMANCE RACING INDUSTRY SHOW - THE NOTEBOOK
EVENT NOTEBOOK - WELCOME TO THE SHOW!
THE BIG SHOW - You can feel it as soon as you walk in the building. The Hollywood-style spotlights. The display vehicles. A couple of race-winning IndyCar machines hanging from the ceiling. Thousands of credentialled people walking around with thick notebooks and backpacks full of materials and swag.
This is the place to be when it comes to high-performance racing.
Known in the industry as the three biggest business days in racing, the annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis is always a must-see for racers, racing businesses, and fans of the motorsports industry.
This year’s PRI Trade Show showcased a myriad of new features, an expanded exhibit area, and the most comprehensive educational and technical seminar program in its 31-year history.
“The racing industry is constantly changing, and we strive to evolve with those changes,” said PRI Trade Show Director Karin Davidson. “We’ve innovated and are excited about what’s new at the 2019 PRI Trade Show. We’re confident that this show provides motorsports professionals with the best opportunity to advance their businesses and careers.”
The PRI Trade Show, held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, featured over 1,100 companies exhibiting in more than 3,300 booths showcasing the latest products, services, machinery, simulation, and testing technologies, and trailers for the racing industry all in a single location. Now in its 32nd year, PRI encompasses all forms of racing and attracts attendees from all 50 states and all over the world.
There for all three days of the show, CompetitionPlus.com was there to talk to some of the industry movers and shakers, checking out the latest products and had its ear to the ground on some of the hottest news in racing. Check out the latest from PRI and the racing industry in our exclusive notebook.
WHERE DID YOU SEE YOUR FIRST RACE? - One of the first displays upon walking in the doors at the PRI Trade Show was a giant wall with the words “Where Did You See Your First Race” displayed across the top.
PRI employees encouraged trade show-goers to fill out a sticky note with the first race they ever attended written on it. With thousands of sticky notes on the wall highlighting racetracks around the world - from drag strips to ovals - the wall was a melting pot of information showcasing the diverse background of race industry professionals attending the show.
BREAKFAST BUZZ - Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, and Tommy Johnson Jr. helped kick off the annual PRI Trade Show on Thursday, December 12 as special guests for the Grand Opening Breakfast.
Offered exclusively for PRI Show attendees, the event featured a live talk show-style program served up alongside a catered breakfast to some 3,000 industry professionals in the Indiana Convention Center’s Sagamore Ballroom just prior to the start of the show.
Emcee Ralph Sheheen of SPEED SPORT led the lively and entertaining discussion with the DSR team. CLICK HERE to read more about the wild, tell-all tales from the DSR drivers from the Grand Opening Breakfast at CompetitionPlus.com from veteran writer Susan Wade.
MISTLETOE AND HOLLEY - One of the busiest booths at the PRI Trade Show is always that of Holley Performance Products.
And that was once again the case at the 2019 show.
With the popular Pro Modified of 2019 NHRA Pro Mod champion Stevie “Fast” Jackson in the booth, fans and race industry professionals stopped in to see the latest at Holley, highlighted by a feature on the innovative MSD Pro 600 CDI, an innovative eight-channel capacitive-discharge ignition developed specifically for high-horsepower applications with extreme cylinder pressure and coil-near-plug engine-management systems.
Compatible with Holley EFI, GM LS platforms, and virtually any EFI setup, it’s perfect for the high cylinder pressure developed by supercharged, turbocharged and nitrous engines.
“For our PRI booth this year we wanted to celebrate Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson’s 2019 Pro Mod championship. He did that with our MSD Pro 600, so we had his Bahrain 1 vehicle loaded into our booth this year, so we appreciate him for allowing us that vehicle and making it available to us,” said Blane Burnett, Holley Advertising and PR Supervisor. “We’ve got the MSD Pro 600 box illuminated (in the car). Also, the grid is mounted behind it from MSD so it is fantastic to have that in the booth and show people just what our products are capable of.”
In addition, Holley showcased several budget-friendly standalone EFI systems and other highlights in their booth for racers.
“Our Terminator X and Terminator X Max kits are a budget-friendly, economically priced standalone EFI system. Previously, they were only available for GM LS and in Ford 5-liter and MPFI applications. Now, just this week, we released them for Chrysler Gen 3 Hemi and we also expanded the Ford support to mod motor and coyote. That offers a lot of options for guys that are building really cool engines,” Burnett said. “Beyond that we’ve got a number of products that are racing centric from our myriad of brands. Over in the Holley EFI booth it is really stacked. We’ve got a new display for the MSD Pro 600. It is the most powerful ignition system on the market right now. It can handle up to 680 millijoules of spark energy and it can do 600 of that continuously. It is really perfect for cars that are making 2,500-3,000 horsepower and really need that amount of spark energy. And it can also have lower settings as well if you are driving it normally.
“We also have some new gauge options for people with Holley EFI. We’ve got a 6.86-inch dash that uses our 12.3-inch dash capacitive-type technology so it is like a cell phone. You can just use your finger and swipe. You don’t have to use a stylus anymore or worry about any type of glare situations. It is an exciting time at Holley right now.
You can learn more about the latest Holley products at www.holley.com.
LEGENDS: THE SERIES RETURNS WITH A MOVING TRIBUTE TO DARRELL RUSSELL - Now an annual tradition, one of the most anticipated moments of the annual PRI Trade Show held at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis was the debut of Competition Plus’ Legends: The Series, this year featuring a special tribute to the late NHRA Top Fuel competitor, Darrell Russell.
A rising drag racing star, Russell lost his life at the height of his professional career in an on-track accident at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis in the summer of 2004. Prior to his death, Russell had made a name for himself in the Top Fuel ranks, becoming the third driver to ever win his professional class debut in 2001. Driving Joe Amato’s NHRA Top Fuel dragster, Russell won six events and was runner-up at 11 others out of the 81 events entered.
Russell’s death led to several safety innovations in the nitro classes within the NHRA.
On Friday, in front of a bustling media room filled with racers, fans and friends of Russell, Competition Plus Editor Bobby Bennett debuted the half-hour feature showcasing the life and times of Russell.
In the episode, some of the closest people in Russell’s life, including his father, Burnell Russell, brother Chris Russell and Rob Geiger detail the life and career of Russell, from his early days in the sportsman ranks all the way to his race-winning professional career.
“It is a beautiful tribute to our son and I think it portrays him better than I’ve ever seen anybody do it,” said Burnell Russell. “Bobby (Bennett) did a great job putting all of the people together that really knew him best. We are very proud of the film.
“It is very difficult to watch, but it represents the happiest period in Darrell’s life when he was on top of the world. We are very happy for that. We get cards and when we go to the races we will be stopped by fans that still think about him today.”
The special Legends: The Series featuring Russell also featured an original song dedicated to the racer written by country music singer Laura Black-Wines.
Legends: The Series is an online documentary/interview series that delves into the history of those drag racers who shaped various areas of the sport. Surpassing more than a million views online, the series combines raw interviews and historical footage.
DI ANNOUNCES FIFTH ANNUAL 30 UNDER 30 LIST - The highly anticipated 2019 Drag Illustrated 30 Under 30 list was revealed during its annual press conference on Friday at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show in Indianapolis. The 2019 DI 30 Under 30 list and its members are the focus of Drag Illustrated’s December Issue, No. 151, which includes standout bracket racers Gage Burch and Matt Dadas on the cover.
With a list featuring a strong contingent of talented young drivers, crew members, tuners, fabricators, track owners, media members and other drag racing insiders, the annual Drag Illustrated 30 Under 30 selections continue to put a spotlight on the rising stars in the sport. The diverse group in 2019, which features prominent personalities from numerous classes, series and countries, was selected by a panel of Drag Illustrated staffers after reviewing thousands of nominations from the drag racing community that stemmed from the nomination process.
“I’m incredibly proud of the group we’ve put together for the fifth annual 30 Under 30 list,” Drag Illustrated Founder and Editorial Director Wes Buck said. “It’s so critical to keep an eye on the future and look for the next group of stars and standouts that will keep drag racing moving forward. This is a group more than capable of doing that, and these young talents represent so many great and amazing things going on in our sport. I can’t help but smile when I look at this list and see what they’ve all accomplished already in drag racing, and it has me excited to see what all of their futures hold.”
Leading the 2019 30 Under 30 list are good friends Burch and Dadas, who both enjoyed incredible campaigns in the bracket racing scene. The 19-year-old Burch won the $500,000-to-win SFG 500 in June, while two months later Dadas, 24, reached the final round of the Fall Fling 500K, as both racked up memories that will last a lifetime.
“To be on the cover of Drag Illustrated for the 30 Under 30 issue, it’s pretty surreal to be in this position,” Dadas said. “For both of us, we’re living the dream right now. You dream to be part of these moments. That’s stuff you can’t replace.”
Added Burch: “It’s been a dream season, that’s for sure. It’s an incredible honor to be on the cover of Drag Illustrated, and this just adds what has been a great year.”
The 2019 30 Under 30 list also includes the following personalities: Austin Prock, Justin Carmack, Patrick Miller, Chase Freeman, Haley James, Cody Lane, Kellan Farmer, Bobby Ince Jr., Justin Jones, D.J. and Ryan McCain, Joey Haas, Preston “Peeps” Pennington, Chris Garner-Jones, Allie and Cody Bland, Julie Nataas, Kyle Bigley, John Dougherty, Victor Alvarez, Hunter Patton, Blake Copson, Cole Cummings, Jordan Vandergriff, Mike Mullaney, Tricia Musi, Matthew Lunsford, Will Smith, Kyle Cultrera and the late Joe Hunt.
“From the very start of the Drag Illustrated 30 Under 30, it’s been our goal to feature honors from every area of the sport, and that’s been no different for our 2019 list,” Drag Illustrated Editor-in-Chief Nate Van Wagnen said. “This is one of the most diverse lists yet, and continues to show the amount of young stars in our sport at every turn. This group features top-level NHRA stars to up-and-coming bracket racers, sportsman racers, small-tire standouts, track managers, series promoters and everything in between. This list is truly representative of the tremendous participation and success young people are having in the sport.”
The 2019 30 Under 30 list is sponsored by IDIDIT, Moser Engineering, Thermo-Tec and Classic Graphix. DRAG ILLUSTRATED.
PAUL LEE TALKS 2020 NHRA SEASON, MCLEOD PRODUCTS - A racer and a businessman, Paul Lee gets to see the best of both worlds.
On the racing side, the Funny Car competitor touched on his plans for the 2020 season and his hopes for one day possibly competing for a championship.
“We want to get out there and race a lot next year,” Lee said. “We have financing for 16 races so far and we are going to try to find the funding for the other eight with the goal to run the full 24 races and try to make the Countdown - and maybe more. I mean, if you aren’t trying to win a championship, why are you even out there?”
But racing is still a few months away. At the PRI Show, it was all about business.
And perhaps no one was as busy as Lee.
With constant appearances as both a driver and brand representative, along with having his McLeod Funny Car on display at the show, Lee was a busy man throughout the weekend.
When he did have a moment to talk shop, Lee touched on some of the latest and greatest in his booth, which featured both McLeod and FTI Transmission and Converter products.
“PRI is like Disneyland for racers. Every company that is high performance is here, including us with McLeod Racing and FTI Transmissions and Converters,” Lee said. “We are showing our latest and greatest products to all of the racers and that is a lot of fun. One of the new parts is a 10.5 inch, 2,000 horsepower street clutch. We’ve been known for having the highest horsepower clutches out there as far as holding power, we have the RST 800, we have the RXT which is 1,000 horsepower clutch and the RXP 1,200 and we just came out with an RST 2,000. It holds 2,000 foot pounds of torque and is totally a street clutch.
“Believe it or not, there are a lot of cars out there with 2,000 horsepower on the street. The technology is amazing nowadays and you get cars all of the time that have that kind of power.”
Lee also talked about the available converters and powerglides from FTI Performance, including billet converters, lockup converters and standard performance converters. “We now cover, between FTI Performance and the McLeod side, both ends of the driveline,” Lee said. “Anything you need in a driveline, whether a converter or transmission on the automatic or manual side, we can provide that.”
AEROMOTIVE GOES BIG AT PRI - One of the more interactive booths at the PRI Show could be found at Aeromotive as the company not only featured their latest products and services, but had interactive displays that drew hundreds to push buttons and watch the products in action.
“Frankly, there are guys over there having more fun playing with the pumps than they would be driving the car that the pump is fueling,” said Kyle Fickler, Director of Business Development at Aeromotive. “It is an interactive display where guys can get in there and get immersed in the technology and it really brings it all to life.”
That display, which had lines of people waiting to watch and learn more about, is the new 7 gallon-per-minute and 10 gallon-per-minute true variable speed brushless fuel pumps, along with the 5 gallon-per-minute pump which was named the Best Product at the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November.
Aeromotive’s new True Variable Speed Brushless In-Line 5.0 Spur Gear Pump is a 5 gallon-per-minute fuel pump that offers low amp draw, excellent heat dissipation and high-pressure capabilities. The new, preinstalled TVS Controller further increases the service life and efficiency of the pump by monitoring engine load and decreasing the fuel pump speed during low-demand periods, which it does by reading the 0-5-volt analog DC signal from the vehicle’s Throttle Position Sensor (TPS). When the TPS signal is below 2.7 volts, the controller reduces the pump speed and current draw, resulting in less heat generated from the pump and electric motor.
The larger fuel pumps, inspired by the 5 gallon-per-minute fuel pump, Fickler said that immediately after introducing the product, the company was immediately challenged to push the bar even further.
Aiming to satisfy the more powerful street and strip applications, the Lenexa, Kansas-based company developed the larger 7.5 and 10-gallon-per-minute versions of its electric, variable-speed, Brushless Stealth fuel pumps, building upon the existing 3.5 and 5-gallon-per-minute Brushless Stealth pumps.
“Honestly, last year when we brought out the 5 gallon-per-minute, the second guy in line said, ‘five is cute, but I need a seven,’” Fickler said. “So, here we are. The 10 gallon-per-minute brushless pump has been the star of the show. That is a lot of fuel no matter what you are doing. It is 10 gallon-per-minute at roughly 100 PSI, with a 60 PSI base and whatever amount of boost.
“We are talking in the neighborhood of almost 5,000 horsepower forced induction on gas and 3,400 on E85 and that is an awful lot of horsepower. What we are doing is there is a spur gear-style pump powered by our brushless true variable speed motor. What we are able to do with the two variable speeds is match pump output to engine demand. How we do that is we tie in a 0-5 volt analog output. The one that is most obvious is TPS, so we allow TPS to drive the pump and in doing so we can slow the pump down to about 30 percent of max output. We are demonstrating that here and we actually have a throttle body and you can hear the pump RPM change with the engine RPM.”
To learn more visit www.aeromotiveinc.com.
RUNNING FLATOUT - One of the neat things about the PRI Trade Show is seeing innovative and new ways to improve on existing products and fixes for current problems.
At the Flatout Gaskets booth, company head Mark Adelizzi highlighted a new copper head gasket that he is really excited about for 2020 and beyond.
“Our new copper head gasket basically has a stainless steel ring around the port to protect the copper from the heat and, along with the stainless being on top of the copper, allows a little bit better compression of the copper so it is a little more forgiving on every port if they are not exactly flat,” Adelizzi said. “The combination of the two came up with a really good, reasonable copper header gasket that is our latest rage.”
2019 marks the 20th year of business for Adelizzi, who started the company from scratch in 1999 and has taken the company from a speck on the map to an industry leader. Adelizzi was reflective of that growth as people filed in and out of his booth Friday at the PRI show.
“The brand is doing well and the racers are loving it,” Adelizzi said. “We’ve got a brand new catalog that is 76 pages. It seems like just yesterday it was 12 pages.”
You can learn more about the latest at Flatout Gaskets at www.flatoutgroup.com.
STYLIN’ AND PRO-FILER - There were several new products on display at the Pro-Filer Performance Products booth showcasing the latest in state-of-the-art cylinder heads and intake manifolds.
Among the new products was the new 12-degree Hitman cylinder heads with a revised valve location, heart-shaped combustion chamber, solid one-piece rocker bar and an oval-shaped port design that is available as a proprietary precision as-cast or fully CNC version, and the Pro-Filer casting quality.
The company also showcased new small block items and a new 13 degree manifold which fits right in with the new DXP class.
You can learn more about the latest at Pro-Filer Performance Products at www.profilerperformance.com.
STRANGE FIXING YOUR WHEEL SITUATION - Strange Engineering saw a problem and fixed it.
In fact, that is what Strange Engineering loves doing best - fixing problems.
“One of the big things that we got called on is that the 15-inch race wheels won’t work with the factory brakes,” said J.C. Cascio, Sales Manager with Strange Engineering. “So the factory brakes, the big rotors, big calipers, you go to put a drag wheel on, and they are limited as far as wheel selection. So we’ve done a good job of addressing a lot of the popular applications like the late model Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, even some of the truck applications, allowing a smaller diameter race brake so they can use those for drag applications.”
In addition to addressing the wheel issues, Strange has begun expanding its line of steering racks.
“We’ve done steering racks for dragsters and Funny Cars for a number of years, now we are starting to do a door car rack, so we came out with this new unit, billet aluminum, a really high-end, nice piece,” Cascio said. “We talked with a lot of builders to see what they like as far as the angle that is built into the pinions, the mounting selections, now we are pushing that. We offer that in two different widths.”
Strange is also expanding its line of suspensions, shocks and struts.
“We have covered all of the popular applications, now we are getting into the little more obscure areas,” Cascio said. “It depends on where the demand is at. If we get enough for a class, we take a look and keep expanding to get people what they need.”
Finally, one of the new big products that Strange Engineering had out on the floor is their new modular dragster rear end.
“Traditionally you get a lot of sheet metal rear ends and we did a one-piece aluminum rear end for a number of years. This new one is a stronger piece,” Cascio said. “It allows us to use a floater kit with the drag racing side. A lot of the Top Dragsters, the mile-per-hour and power, they are putting them beyond a flanged axle and it gets into a safety problem.
“So with this new floater design it allows us to go to a full floating axle and so the only load that tha axle sees is the torsional load. You don’t see the bending load, so things like tire shake that would cause an axle bearing or a flange to fail or bend, the floater kit does away with that. Even if, for some unknown reason, there is an axle failure, everything stays contained in the rear and you don’t run the risk of losing a wheel or anything like that.”
To learn more about Strange Engineering and their latest products, visit www.strangeengineering.net.
NEW RULES IN PRO MOD & PRO STOCK - Effective as of December 4, changes have been made to NHRA’s master cut-off switch in the Pro Mod and Pro Stock classes.
The master cutoff must now be configured as shown in a diagram on www.NHRARacer.com. The rear bumper switch must be located on the driver’s side of the lower rear tail panel. The push-button of the specified switch must be placed in such a manner as to give a safety official an unobstructed view of the button from the rear of the vehicle.
Justin Elkes at Modern Racing has developed this and he is the mandated supplier.
BIG M, LITTLE M - There were several new and exciting products featured in the Dart booth, including continued innovations with the Dart Little M and Big M iron block lines.
Notable changes or improvements include the fact that you can now get both in standard cam location as well as raised cam locations, including .391” raised cam on the small blocks and .400” raised cam on the big blocks. The Little M is also being offered with additional deck heights, including a 9.325” deck height and 9.500” deck height. The Big M iron block can also get up to a 10.400” deck height and keep the standard pan rails.
Rick Zwieg with Dart touched on a few other items and improvements showcased in the Dart booth in 2019.
“There are features with these that have changed. They have a set of standard pipe plugs using a straight thread plug with O rings and the oiling system has been revised where it allows you to change the oil restrictors by removing the intake manifold and not by taking the whole front of the motor apart,” Zwieg said. “It is new and improved on both of those raised cam blocks. The lifter boss area is a solid piece that goes from front to rear and allows if somebody wants lifters to be relocated, we can put them all over the place. If they are doing something weird, we can help them out with that.”
Learn more about the latest at Dart at www.dartheads.com.
HOWARDS CAMS STRIKING LIKE A RATTLESNAKE - The folks at Howards Cams are really excited about their Rattler series of Cams.
The new line, introduced recently, has been a hot item and John Steely, Manager at Howards Cams, is excited about what that brings to the racing community.
“It is the best thing we’ve done recently. The Rattler series of cams have characteristic old-style 60s idle quality with a rough idle and make very good torque numbers,” Steely said. “In addition, our boost series of camshafts for the guys with turbochargers and blowers have worked very well. Those are really picking up and, of course, the LS market is going crazy and we are happy about that.”
Howards Cams Rattler camshaft is designed for maximum performance. Utilizing the highest grade, race quality cores available. The Rattlers are 100 percent Rockwell checked and Parkerized to ensure the highest quality control standards available. Howards Cams Rattler series are ideal OE replacements, as well as for use in high performance racing applications.
In addition to discussing the product line, Steele was reflective of just what the PRI show brings to a company such as Howards Cams, putting them in front of a massive audience that you don’t get just anywhere.
“The turnout this year is excellent and it means a lot for us,” Steele said. “We look forward to coming to this every year.”
To learn more about Howards Cams, visit www.howardscams.com.
THE LATEST IN SAFETY FROM STROUD - Safety is the name of the game at Stroud Safety.
Especially for the smallest of competitors.
Stroud Safety was excited to talk about their latest and greatest products available to Junior Dragster racers at the PRI Trade Show, highlighted by their latest safety innovations, as well as customization options available to all racers.
“From cockpit covers to tire covers, the entire Junior program is something we are working on right now,” said John Gentry, Assistant General Manager at Stroud Safety. “A lot of our products are already available online and we are really excited about that. Some others that we are excited about is our new NHRA approved oil containment device designed for the budget racer. We also have a new Ford 6R80 transmission blanket. That transmission has gotten extremely popular in NMRA and it holds a lot of power from the factory. People are going in the 7s on those transmissions now, so we made a 4.1 SFI approved blanket to go on it.”
But items for adults weren’t the highlight of the show at Stroud.
With a neatly-designed “Indominus Rex” Junior Dragster on display in the booth along with the young racer that pilots the machine, Stroud was quick to highlight the Junior products available to keep younger racers safe.
“We have our latest Junior belts that are part of our Junior Dragster program and cockpit covers are coming soon. Every cockpit is different, so we are creating an order form with measurements to make them custom. We are also working on tire covers that will pretty much fit all tires,” Gentry said. “But we are really excited about our SFI 1 and SFI 5 Junior suits. We made a Junior suit for our racer in the booth and we are showcasing that we can do as much embroidery as you want. It can be as plane or exotic as you want. And, of course, everything is made in the USA.”
You can learn more about the latest at Stroud Safety at www.stroudsafety.com.
A GREAT PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN BONINFANTE AND PRO TORQUE - The theme at a lot of the booths at the 2019 PRI Trade Show has been collaboration and partnerships.
A lot of companies, racers and teams announced unique alliances and partnerships to help better grow their race teams and businesses and one of those highlighted at the show was that of Boninfante and Pro Torque.
With the beautiful Fireball Camaro from Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaws that just won the No-Prep Kings series on display in the booth, Joseph Rivera of Pro Torque highlighted the partnership between his company and Boninfante to create the best products available to the racing public.
“I have been working with Rob Boninfante for probably about 10 years. He does a lot of manufacturing for us and he helped me develop the EV1 and some of the other parts we have developed,” Rivera said. “There is not a better manufacturer in the world to work with. Nobody with a better top-down legitimacy than guys that work on apex automotive technology. Nobody is making more power than Top Fuel cars and Rob makes parts for all of that. We’ve been really good friends and I’ve helped him develop flex plates and we have been doing business for a bunch of years.
“At PRI, we were doing some things we have never done before, including selling products cooperatively. If you buy a Pro Torque converter here at the show, we’ll get you a price or a discount, or in some cases free, Boninfante flex plate, which is the first time we’ve done any kind of special offer.
“In addition, Rob and I are developing a bunch of new products and product lines and we are going to continue to work together on new stuff.”
Rivera said that a need from the racing community for better technology and higher safety standards led to the partnership that allows the two companies to share resources and technology.
“A lot of customers have a need for the technology and the safety that Top Fuel cars have and partnering with Rob and working with them cooperatively, we are able to get some really good parts in the hands of the masses,” Rivera said. “It is a lot of the reason we are partnering up.”
2020 COPO A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH - Debuting at the 2019 SEMA show in Las Vegas, the Chevrolet booth showcased one of the nicest pieces of eye candy at the PRI show with the 2020 COPO Camaro John Force Edition.
The special all-black Camaro showcased the legacies of Chevrolet’s factory race car and the 16-time NHRA champion driver in a distinctively styled, supercharged race car - and one that will deliver for charity, as well as low elapsed times on the drag strip.
“John Force is one of the most legendary drag racers in history - and his legend started with Chevrolet,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. Vice President of Performance and Motorsports. “We are proud to partner with him on this one-of-a-kind COPO Camaro and are excited to see what it will do on the auction block for charity.”
Chevrolet will auction the COPO Camaro John Force Edition at the 2020 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale event in January, with the proceeds going to DonorsChoose.org. It carries a unique “2020COPO-FORCE” identification plaque, and is considered a unique build in the COPO Camaro range - not part of the annual production run of 69 COPO Camaro race cars.
Since 2012, Chevrolet has produced 552 COPO Camaros, making them incredibly rare factory race cars. During that time, five COPO Camaros have crossed the auction block for charity, raising nearly $2 million for a variety of important causes.
Additionally, a black-and-silver paint scheme inspired by the John Force Edition is an available option on 2020 COPO Camaros. In fact, there are more color choices than ever when it comes to ordering the factory-built race cars.
The 2020 COPO Camaro’s available engine lineup includes a revised version of the supercharged, LSX-based 350 engine, featuring a 2.65L Magnuson supercharger and all-new LSX-SC cylinder heads, as well as an LSX-based naturally aspirated 427 engine.
Customers can register for a chance to purchase a 2020 COPO Camaro at www.chevrolet.com/performance/copo-camaro.
LIVE COVERAGE - For the second year in a row the National Hot Rod Association brought live coverage of the 2019 PRI Trade Show with coverage of all three days of the event.
The broadcast, hosted by many of NHRA’s top broadcasters and personalities, included special guests and features on all of the happenings at the annual gathering in Indianapolis live throughout the weekend on NHRA.com.
Among the drivers making appearances throughout the weekend included Leah Pritchett, Clay Millican, Tim Wilkerson and top drivers from Don Schumacher Racing, John Force Racing and many others.
The livestream allowed those who could not attend the PRI Show an insider’s look into the three biggest days in motorsports business.
MOBIL 1 RETURNS TO NHRA WITH KALITTA MOTORSPORTS - Mobil 1™ will return to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2020. ExxonMobil, in partnership with Toyota Racing Development (TRD), will become Kalitta Motorsports’ official lubricant partner in 2020 and Mobil 1 racing oil will be used in all team cars.
Under the agreement, ExxonMobil will supply Kalitta Motorsports, the seven-time NHRA world championship-winning team, with a newly developed Mobil 1™ Drag Racing motor oil, along with other lubricants, while also providing engineering support throughout the season. In addition, ExxonMobil will continue to develop next-generation lubricants to improve engine and gearbox performance.
“NHRA is one of the most extreme forms of motorsports on the planet, and it is the perfect place to showcase the performance of our advanced Mobil 1 synthetic lubricant technologies,” said Kai Decker, global motorsports and sponsorships manager at ExxonMobil. “ExxonMobil last competed in NHRA back in the 1990s. Our return to the NHRA is the result of a true development and competition partnership between TRD, Kalitta Motorsports and our Motorsports Technology team at ExxonMobil Engineering and Research Company (EMRE).”
“All of us at TRD are pleased to see a great technology partner in Mobil 1 join forces with a great Toyota team -- Kalitta Motorsports,” said Tyler Gibbs, general manager, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development). “Having our talented group of TRD engineers working alongside the scientists at Mobil 1 on continued improvement in NHRA is exciting for everyone involved, including the NHRA. We’ve seen great things come from this partnership on the track in NASCAR and look forward to seeing more race wins and championships on the horizon for all parties.”
“We are thrilled to announce this new agreement and be part of the return of Mobil 1 to NHRA,” said Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports General Manager. “The Kalitta team, led by Connie Kalitta, for more than 60 years, has pushed the boundaries of innovation in motorsports. We have been working closely with the Mobil 1 team to develop, test and prove an innovative new range of lubricants for our race cars. Our goal is to win a championship and we’re excited to partner with Mobil 1 and their team of engineers and scientists to help us get there.”
The 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will begin with the 60th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, February 6-9, 2020 in Pomona, Calif., and will be broadcast on FS1.
FORD PERFORMANCE, MOTORCRAFT AND QUICK LANE SIGN MULTIYEAR DEAL WITH TASCA RACING - Ford Performance, along with Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and its brands Motorcraft and Quick Lane, have signed a multiyear deal with NHRA team owner and driver Bob Tasca III, continuing a long relationship with his Mustang Funny Car operation.
The deal comes on the heels of one of Tasca’s most successful seasons of his career. In 2019, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team won two races in four final-round appearances in NHRA Drag Racing’s premier Mello Yello series – a monumental feat for a team that came back to fulltime competition last year.
“It was my commitment to all of the fans and supporters of Ford that wanted to bring the Blue Oval back to professional drag racing to deliver a championship-level program,” Tasca said. “I’ve never been prouder of my team and the effort that was put in to deliver on the commitment that we would win and compete for a championship. We took the championship fight right down to Pomona this year. To be starting 2020 with a contract extension from Ford, with (crew chiefs) Jon Schaffer and Mike Neff leading an extremely talented crew, I’ve never been more excited to start a season.”
“We’re very excited about the competitive progress the NHRA program showed in the first year with the new Mustang body,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “Our goal is always to be championship-capable, and Tasca Racing was in the hunt for the title until the final race this year. We’re supportive of the new co-crew chief relationship with the team and are confident the technical collaboration between Ford Performance and team will lead to an even better 2020 season.”
Tasca finished fifth in the championship points standings this season. It was a news-filled year for Tasca, who reunited Neff and Schaffer as crew chiefs and reset both ends of his career bests in a brand-new Mustang body designed by Ford Performance. His best marks for the 1,000-foot course now sit at 3.855 seconds (St. Louis) and 335.32 mph (Reading, Pa.).
The team sponsor relationship with the Motorcraft and Quick Lane brands will extend FCSD’s long support of the NHRA and the opportunity to reach its passionate fans.
“Bob has such great insight into what our goals are and has been terrific in helping us get the message out that there are jobs available at our Ford and Lincoln dealerships to the right audiences,” said Jasmine Pendleton, Marketing Manager for FCSD. “That skill is invaluable in a spokesman and we are happy to have him.”
RICKIE SMITH REVEALS NEW MAJOR SPONSOR AT PRI SHOW - Rickie Smith left the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, NC, knowing he needed a change. And for the 11-time series champion, a change has proven good.
Thursday morning, at the PRI Show, Smith announced Strutmasters.com as his newest major sponsorship for the 2020 season. He unveiled a brand new Jerry Bickel-built Camaro, the first of which to have the new NHRA-mandated safety requirements.
The driving force behind Strutmasters.com, Chip Lofton, has proclaimed himself as the champion for the little guy, but with this new association has swung for the fences.
"Growing up in the Carolinas and being a Pro Stock fan and a Pro Mod fan, I never thought I could reach this place where I could sponsor him," Lofton said. "He lives to race and races to live. He's been one of those guys that have figured out a way to do it."
So Lofton picked up the phone and called his fellow Tar Heel state drag racing aficionado. Before they hung up, they made a plan for Smith to drive down from King to the strut building facility in Roxboro, a place where the man drag racing calls Trickie, earned his stripes first as a Modified racer and later a Mountain Motor legend.
"He's just a down to earth person," Smith said. "I had no idea what I was getting into as far as knowing what he'd done and what he loved when I first met. It wasn't hard to see his love for the sport. It was like hitting three home runs in one game to find a sponsor who loves racing as I do."
Smith ventured into the portion of Lofton's shop where he keeps his stash of collector cars.
"You always want to be involved with somebody who really likes racing, and I didn't have to talk him into loving racing," Smith said. "That's a 200% start right off the bat when the people that you are dealing with love racing. It just makes everything go a lot smoother.
A day together left the two wondering why they hadn't done this sooner.
"Rickie came and talked to me," Lofton said. "I just thought it legitimizes my other teams as well, to have somebody successful like that part of our team. Rickie gets television time because he's a character.
"It doesn't hurt that on any given Sunday; he can bring the Wally home."
Smith doesn't brush off the notion he's been in racing a long time and has had a list of sponsors a mile long.
"From Motorcraft to Slick 50, to STP, to IDG, it sounds like a lot of sponsors, but I've been out here going on 46 years," Smith explained. "So when you're out here 46 years, and you make it, you're going to have a lot of sponsors. But most time, a lot of sponsors, three years, six years, is kind of the limit. And they go and deal with something else. And I was with Motorcraft almost eight or nine years and IDG, like five years or six."
Smith, now in the twilight of his driving career, cannot help but feel like he's got something special with Strutmasters.com.
"I've had some really good sponsors, but I feel excited about this deal with Chip he owns the company and doesn't have to call anybody or go get a board meeting or whatever to say, 'Yeah, we're going to do this," Smith said. "He's got the power to make the moves, and that's the way he like to deal with because, in automobile racing, you've got to make that move at that time. If you wait too long, people pass you up, and Chip can make the moves when he wants to make them."
Thursday, he made the move he's wanted to for a long time. And for Smith, he's glad Lofton did, the change is going to do him good.
A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY - At the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, industry leaders and Sunnen teamed up with well-known manufacturers and legendary engine builder Sonny Leonard from Sonny’s World Class Racing to raffle a high-performance engine during the show.
All proceeds from the raffle went to Victory Junction, a camp founded by NASCAR’s Petty family for children with serious illnesses
“It’s such an honor to have Sonny Leonard and his team generously volunteer their time to build another engine for the Sunnen Engine Charity Sweepstakes,” said PRI Trade Show Director Karin Davidson. “Their engine last year raised a record amount for Victory Junction, and we are thrilled by what this second, more powerful engine has generated.”
The 2018 Sweepstakes raised more than $102,000, crushing the previous record of $59,000. This year’s engine - a 762 cubic-inch, 1,400-horsepower-beast - is even bigger than last year’s custom-built 727 cid build.
PDRA ANNOUNCES 2020 SCHEDULE - The Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) announced their 2020 schedule and highlighted their new and returning sponsorships at a special press conference Friday at the PRI Trade Show.
The 2020 PDRA schedule includes a pair of stops at Galot Motorsports Park April 2-4 and October 8-10, along with a pair of stop at Virginia Motorsports Park May 7-9 and to close the season October 22-25. In between are a couple of new stops and a few returning tracks including a trip to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio June 11-13, Maryland International Raceway July 16-18, Maple Grove Raceway August 20-22 and Darlington Dragway September 10-12.
Learn more at www.pdra660.com.
SIMPLY THE BEST - Due to the overwhelmingly positive response since its introduction, the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show’s Featured Product Showcase returned for a third year in 2019, providing exhibitors with unmatched opportunities to boost their products and brand awareness before, during and after the world’s premier event for motorsports professional.
The new location for the Featured Product Showcase was also a hit with exhibitors as the display was setup inside the Lucas Oil Stadium Exhibit Hall, a high-traffic area that increased connectivity with buyers during the three biggest business days in racing.
“The return on investment afforded by the Featured Products Showcase has made the program a can’t-miss for exhibitors who want to increase their exposure with buyers and media at the PRI Show,” said PRI Trade Show Director Karin Davidson. “Because of its popularity, the Showcase has expanded into the new Lucas Oil Stadium Exhibit Halls, which are connected to the Indiana Convention Center and easily accessible from the parking lot.”
Products featured in the Showcase received plenty of pre-show exposure including product descriptions and photos in pre-event materials. Each product’s location was also highlighted in an interactive map using an online feature that is part of the interactive floor plan and used by attendees to map out the PRI Show exhibitors specific to their business or audience.