On Friday, I drove down to the PRI 2016 Trade Show in Indianapolis. For those not familar, the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Trade Show is a gathering of all facets of the racing industry. In its 28th year, the show started as an outgrowth of the western SEMA show. As that show expanded and changed, it became apparent that the racing community needed its own show. The first PRI Trade Show was held in Louisville in 1988. The show moved around the country until it was purchased in 2012 by SEMA. In 2013, the show was moved to Indianapolis, where it remains today.
Other than visiting the show for the first time, my purpose for attending was to hook up with as many of the many Chicagoland racers as possible. The first racer I met with was Camden Murphy from Itasca.
For 2017, Cam will be driving in the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series. He attended the Monster Jam University starting in March. It started with around 50 drivers and was whittled down to 10. The Show is two and half hours of non-stop Monster Jam mayhem! Monster Jam has encouraged Cam to continue his NASCAR career, and he is currently looking at some cross promotion. Cam is working on some NASCAR Xfinity rides for the 2017 season. At the show, Cam is working with Sim Gear to promote their line of race simulators. Sim Gear's simulators, designed by Zach Davis, are the most mobile of all race simulators on the market.
I next met with Route 66 ET Bracket racer Don Yonkers
Don is on the right and with his co-worker Ramon Aguilar. Don works for Palmgren, a CH Hanson Company specializing in machine tools. He has been a machininst nearly all his working career and went to work for Plamgren about six months ago. In 2017, Don wants to compete in some Division 3 races in the Super Street class. In 2016, he had some inconsistent runs and has been chasing down the cause of that problem. He thinks he has it narrowed down. Good luck this upcoming season, Don.
Above is Zachary Tinkle and family with CRA powered by JEGS car owner Mike Lorz (from left to right: Brad Tinkle, Zachary Tinkle, Mike Lorz and Laurren Darr). Zachary drives the #53 in the Central States Region Super Cup Series. In 2017, in addition to driving full time in Super Cup, he will be testing a CRA JEGS late model car at Grundy County Speedway with the plan to enter a few races later in the season. They came to PRI to view and purchase new safety equipment for Zachary. They also came for the network capabilities of this show.
This is ET Bracket Super Pro Driver Nichole Medeisis and her family (from left to right: Mike, Nichole, Julia and Denise). This year, Nichole graduated from the NHRA Junior Modified Division into the Super Pro Class at Route 66 Raceway. In Race 8, Nichole took her first win in the "big" car! As seen in her Victory Lane photo, it was a very popular win. Over the winter, the car is being overhauled and re-painted to match her former junior dragster. Nichole is studying medicine at the University of Iowa.
Above is Miranda Lawson (from the Lawson family of racers) and her longtime boyfriend Ryan Alley, both ET Bracket Pro Drivers. Unfortunately, Miranda may not be driving this year as she turns over the reins of her car to her sister Audi. Their brother will take over the white Camaro that Audi drove last season. There is a rumor that Dad (Mike) may be driving this coming season. Maybe Miranda can figure out a way to get in that car! Both Ryan and Miranda qualified for Indy this year. It's always interesting when Ryan and Miranda go head to head at the track!!
I went to meet Rocky Ausec, driver/owner of the Solid Rock "One Evil Mach 1". As we started talking, who walks up? That would be Tom Motry, owner of the world record holding AA/FA Drastic Plastic (5.286/275.06 mph, set at Route 66 Raceway), with his friend and fellow racer Bob John (left to right: Rocky , Bob, Skeeter Hidy of Hidy Fuel Systems and Tom). Rocky was at the show helping to promote the Great Lakes Nostalgic Funny Car Circuit. Last season, Rocky had some engine problems early, but got the back on the track mid-season. Over the off-season, he will be doing some minor work on the car. Tom is searching for a driver for Drastic Plastic for 2017. The 2016 driver, Buddy Hull, will be driving his own car this upcoming season. Tom expects to make an announcement soon.
As I was walking around the show, I heard my name called. As I turned around, I saw Kevin Hamelen and Greg Bartlett from the Sevik Family of racers. The Sevik family has been racing in the Chicagoland area for many years. Kevin is the grandfather of seven-year-old Cooper Hamelen, NHRA Junior Sportsman driver. In Cooper's first year of competition at Route 66 Raceway, he finished second in the points standings. Kevin told me they rented the car last year but now have purchased it, and Cooper will be driving full time again this season.
I went to the media center and ran into Animal Jim Feuer! Animal Jim is a longtime drag racer, 6-time world champion and longtime Route 66 Raceway official. Animal Jim used some of my photos for an article he wrote on ET Bracket racing engines for Engine Builder Magazine. Thanks Jim! In 2012, Animal Jim was honored at the Route 66 Classic as one of the "Legends". Animal Jim has attended every PRI Show since the inception (except the ones held in Florida).
Above is Jesse Lasik, a NHRA Junior Dragster driver, his family, and fellow Junior Dragster driver Colby Frazier with Mom from Owensboro, Ky (left to right: Colby Frazier, Barbara Frazier, Jesse Lasik, Lisa Lasik and John Lasik). Besides racing at Route 66, Jesse raced in 36 races at about 10 race tracks with a track championship at Byron Dragway. Friday was Jesse's 12th Birthday, so happy birthday! When I caught up with the group, they were shopping for a new uniform for Jesse. It seems he grew out of last season's!
There were a lot more Chicagoland area racers at the PRI Show but I ran out of time. This was my first but not last PRI! I want to thank all those who took time out of their day to share their stories and experiences at PRI. See you back at the track in 2017!