PRI Show 2022: Shades of past, visions of future

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Steven Cole Smith

The Performance Racing Industry show has been around since 1986, starting small and growing quickly into the country’s largest motorsports-related trade show, embracing everything from low riders to diesel dragsters to NASCAR modifieds.

Canceled for 2020 due to COVID, the 2021 show, held at its regular spot at the Indianapolis Convention Center, exceeded expectations with over 60,000 attendees and 1100 exhibitors, especially impressive since the show is open only to those in the racing industry. If a company sells performance-related products, odds are they were represented at the show, which was held over a three-day period in December. It’s Indianapolis’ largest convention since COVID hit.

pri show crowd turnout
Steven Cole Smith

“I just got a great note from one of my old friends in the industry who talked about a deal that they did with two other segments of the racing industry on the floor at the PRI Trade Show and he concluded the story with, ‘If it wasn’t for the PRI Trade Show, we never would’ve had that opportunity to get into those industries,” said PRI President Dr. Jamie Meyer, in an interview with Inside Indiana Business. “For me, I’m just thrilled to see all the business that happened on the floor. It’ll set up the entire year for some companies and it could set up an entire decade or generation’s worth of business as this industry’s coming out of the pandemic.”

From Roger Penske’s remarks at the annual opening breakfast to multiple seminars held throughout the show, PRI—while not at all forsaking fossil fuel-powered vehicles—is wisely embracing the coming storm of electric performance vehicles. They were showcased in the EV Performance Zone, which featured everything from an electric-powered vintage Cadillac to an electrified Chevrolet El Camino. Both Ford and Nitro Rallycross showed off electric-powered race cars. Hot Rod magazine joined in with the PRI unveiling of Project X, an electric-powered 1957 Chevrolet.

pri electric cadillac restomod
Steven Cole Smith

One of the 1100 vendors, Patrick Utt, president of RaceQuip, which sells safety products like helmets and fire suits, said the 2022 PRI show presented plenty of opportunity. “We have some great products, and they were well-received by a good-sized crowd this year.”

Former GM executive Don Taylor, now a consultant to the Automotive Performance Industry, said the return of PRI was larger and more robust than he was expecting. “It feels like PRI shows in the past.”

All the attention to electrics doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of piston-powered products and plenty of celebrities, including the First Lady of Racing Linda Vaughn, on the show floor. Below are some photos of what you missed at PRI 2022. The PRI Show, by the way, will return to the Indianapolis Convention Center next December, and at least through 2025. For more information, log onto performanceracing.com.

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