A NEW KIND OF CONFERENCE: THE ENGINE PERFORMANCE EXPO
The concept may have started several years ago with the Advanced Engineering Technology Conference (AETC) held prior to the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in December. It was there where several individual meetings held by noted members of our industry gave talks and demonstrations on the state of technology in all forms of motorsports. The meetings were open to all who registered ahead of time which also included a lengthy question and answer period from the audience.
While the concept drew quite a bit of attendance prior to the Trade Show, it appeared that after SEMA had purchased the PRI Trade Show, the AETC was dropped. One of those who was involved in AETC along with being one of those noted members of our industry was Lake Speed Jr. of Total Seal Piston Rings. Between Speed and Rottler Machine, we now have a sort of resurrection of the AETC concept with their Engine Performance Expo taking place over four days; two in October and two in January.
“The whole idea of this thing goes back to the fact that AETC is no longer,” said Speed. “For myself and others, it gave us the opportunity to showcase some really important facets of engine technology. Truthfully, that was one of our favorite times of the whole year. It was not a case of trying to make 400 horsepower from your small block stroker, but rather, it spoke of technology that maybe was so advanced, but yet part of what our future holds. It really made the PRI Trade Show something special.”
With the cancellation of the PRI Trade Show in 2020 due to the pandemic, the thought of a virtual Trade Show really was not appealing. However, one of the things the pandemic brought to us was the advent of streaming technology.
“We began to think that through the use of streaming technology, we could do a virtual version of AETC,” Speed adds. “Naturally, people couldn’t travel, but they could be sitting home in their offices or whatever and join in for various meetings. Through Skype technology, they could also take part in the meetings through question-and-answer periods, a sort of AETC Revival, if you will. We’d talk about much of the same things; the latest technology, the right things to do; and of course, people could now log in from all around the world and take part in the experience. Unlike AETC where you had to be in there live, the Expo would be available on demand from anywhere without the need to travel.”
Between Speed, along with Total Seal Piston Rings and Rottler and a number of other manufacturers, the Engine Performance Expo came to life last January with a two-day education and demonstration sessions from such noted members of our industry. MC-ed by broadcasting veteran Joe Castello and Speed, each session involved pre-recorded videos direct from each speaker’s shops.
“It went over very well last January,” says Speed, “and afterwards we began to be asked ‘when is the next one? We want more. We want this or that.’ That gave us the wish to continue and as such, we now are reviving it this week along with two more days in January (www.engineperformanceexpo.com). It’s a pre-registered event, but registration is free through the website.”
During the course of Speed’s travels throughout the year, he brought along a video crew to various shops and taped each segment. “It was very interactive with each manufacturer now having the ability to showcase exactly what each product does and how it works,” said Speed. “Between myself and Ed Kiebler of Rottler, as we traveled around visiting various shops, we just brought along our video camera and spoke with them in their own environment, talking about the things which are going on in our world; REM finishing for gears, cylinder wall finishes, fuel injection technology along with a host of other topics. While the Expo itself is live, but we have all of these pre-recorded sessions set up in sort of a morning show type of concept. Some of it is not super-quality production, but all of it is noteworthy.”
As for the live portion, on the first day Jon Kaase is scheduled to be live in the studio along with racers Roy Johnson, Kurt and Warren Johnson doing single interviews throughout the day followed by a wrap-up at the end of each day. The viewer has the ability to click in and out on whichever segment best interests you. Each session is also available on demand even after the Expo is over, so that you can watch any one of the segments at your leisure.
“What’s great about this as opposed to AETC, where you had to be in the room in person to hear what is talked about,” says Speed. “Here, you have the ability to see each one of the sessions at your convenience. The final idea is this to be a resource, a big archive of people who know what they’re talking about, where you can look up any number of issues on our You Tube channel and watch each session. Our You Tube channel also has each session from our January Expo.”
If you’re interested in how technology is impacting our motorsports world, this is the Expo for you.