PRI Trade Show through the eyes of County connected folks

Episode 242

December 9, 2018

Highlights from the 2018 Performance Racing Industry Trade Show (PRI) at Indy

The #96 Wyatt Alexander Racing super late-model that I told you about in last week’s episode was unveiled at the AR Bodies booth at the PRI Trade Show in downtown Indianapolis. Needless to say the car looked stunning in its 2019 wrap. (Photo courtesy of PRN At The Track)

When I found that many folks I knew were headed for the trade show which has as its theme “The Business of Racing Begins Here” I needed to hear from them some of their highlights and comments about the show.

You may recall from prior episodes Van Buren native Phil LaPointe has spent his career at Honda including a multi-year stint with Honda Performance Development in England and California. He now is back at Honda Research and Development Americas at their Raymond, Ohio location.

Phil was only able to spend one day at the show, Friday December 7, due to work scheduling. He has attended the last 3 shows at Indy and remains a dedicated “gearhead” through and through. He made the 3 hour trip from his home in Ohio and was able to spend 8 hours at PRI.

While at the show, LaPointe was able to meet Brett Alexander at the AR Bodies booth. He commented that the Valvoline sponsored car looked nice.

He noted that the show was at least a two-day walk around adventure for someone who wanted to get a good overall look at a majority of the 1,100 exhibitors. After being at the show from 9 am to 5 pm he noted that his senses were being numbed by sensory overload.

The crowd was such that in the afternoon, the halls were packed making it a little difficult to maneuver. I have been at the Convention Center with the National FFA Convention and can vouch that despite a huge facility the crowd can be at times overwhelming. I heard estimates of 30,000 plus. (60,000 at National FFA Convention)

One of LaPointe’s reasons for being at the trade show, in addition to being on the lookout for new technology, was the Honda Performance development announcements. “HPD had a Formula 3/Formula 4 press event.  The F4 has sold well (I heard around 80 cars over the last couple of years) and every race will have full grids.  They are trying to have 20+ F3 cars on the grids this year, and this will be a challenge.  The F3 chassis, engine, and gearbox are very different to handle the higher horsepower and cornering speeds and the price is around 2X.”

“HPD had a Formula 3 car and the Formula 3 engine on display.  Sam Schmidt (Schmidt-Peterson Racing, SPM) and Ericsson, the new  SPM IndyCar driver, were there.”

” HPD is trying to launch an Ignite class.  Margay Ignite cart with a GX 200 engine based on the popular Briggs LC206 Ignite class.  There was a kart on display and has much more horsepower than the Briggs.”

Austin Theriault was at the show. When snow cancelled flights back to Charlotte, he and Wyatt Alexander rented a car and drove back. According to Wyatt they arrived back in Charlotte about 3 am. For racers that can be a typical night’s travel. I thought it was great that the two Maine racers with roots in the County could spend time together.

Theriault mentioned, ” The attendance was great again this year which is hopefully a good indicator for the interest and involvement in the 2019 motorsports seasons across the country.”

Thursday December 6 before leaving for the PRI show, Alexander was invited to the unveiling of the #88 Monster Energy Series Chevrolet Camaro driven by Alex Bowman. In addition to meeting with Bowman, Wyatt was able meet Dale Earnhardt Junior. The event was held at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina. (WAR photo)

The driver of the WAR #96 said, “PRI was great as usual. I was only able to make it there for Saturday because of school obligations but it was great to be there.” They had to leave their car and trailer at Tom Patsis’ Cold Hard Art shop in Brownsburg until Brett would fly out to pick it up later this month.

Located adjacent to the AR Bodies booth is Ray Evernham’s “The Ghost” a custom-built racer which looks like a 36 Chevy modified which would have raced in the 1960’s but has modern components. Valvoline was involved in that project as well as JRi Shocks who was hosting the car in their booth. (Bob Alexander photo)

WAR Crew Chief, Bob Alexander was my “deputized” on-the-spot reporter at the show. Here are a few of his remarks,” If someone had told me as recently a one year ago that we (Wyatt Alexander Racing) would have a race car on display at the PRI show I would have questioned their sanity. It is truly amazing to me that we, as well as several partners, have been able to make this opportunity a reality.”

” In the early fall Brett had conversations with Norm Desjardin of the Body Shop in New Hampshire regarding the use of our super late-model in the AR Bodies booth at this year’s PRI show. We realized that this would be a fantastic opportunity to showcase our car and driver, our newest sponsor, Valvoline Oil, our chassis builder, Clattenburg Race Fabrication (CRF Chassis) and our long time supporter, AR Bodies of Greenbrier, Tennessee.”

“Many things had to occur in order for the car to be ready in time for the show. The chassis would need to be stripped of its current body, cleaned and re-skinned with the latest offerings for pavement late-model race cars from ARBodies. That included body panels, interior bracing, supports as well as a new wrap.”

Following the 9th place finish at the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) finale at Hickory on November 14th, Alexander mentioned the people responsible for getting the car ready saying, “The car was returned to CRF in Salisbury, North Carolina where Wyatt, Randy White, Dean Clattenburg and Jody Measemer performed the body swap. Dale Averill of DA1 designs came up with a phenomenal rendering featuring the red and blue Valvoline Oil colors and featuring Valvoline on the rear quarters.”

“New wheels donated by Basset Racing Wheels were shipped to CRF. New tires donated by American Racer had to be shipped to CRF and mounted.  All of this work was completed with the highest level of craftsmanship in time for us to pick up the car and transport it to Indianapolis, Indiana in time for Tuesday December 3rd.”

“As a side note, several hundred attendees and vendors had nothing but good to say about the car, the body and the outstanding wrap that was performed by Chad Martin of One on One Brand.”

“In talking with Wyatt’s 5 year-old sister Quinn on Monday, her parting comment was ‘I hope that you win’.”

The Unser family was highlighted at this year’s PRI Show. On display was Al Unser Senior’s 1978 Indy 500 winning Chaparral. (Bob Alexander photo)

“Highlights of the PRI show for me included breakfast with Dave Despain, Al Unser Jr. and Al Unser Sr. The opportunity to view the latest offering of High Performance components and speak with people who were able to explain the benefits of their products, meeting with old friends and some Maine connections such as Phillip LaPointe with Honda R&D Americas and the networking which took place with our marketing partners, fellow competitors, officials and tour operators.”

Wesley “Weeder” Weed with Jerry Babb, Brian Macdonald, Greg Gibson, and Steve Leavitt at PRI Show. Weeder mentioned one of his highlights was meeting with Leavitt, the son of the late Gardiner Leavitt from Kezar Falls, Maine. Weeder calls Leavitt, “One of the greatest racers ever and just one of the guys. He is so humble.” Leavitt does consulting with several companies including Port City Racecars. (Weeder Nation photo)

The Bilstein shocks buggy “suspended” from the ceiling in the Convention hallway was certainly an eye-catcher. (Jeff Gentry photo)

Jeff Gentry, Johnson City, Tennessee, on left got his 200 mph club membership at the Loring Timing Association Maine Event in July and was featured in an episode of UpNorth Motorsports. He reported that his biggest highlight was connecting with the fellow Rydin Racing members at PRI. In the back are 200 mph club members Jay Bell and Carl Dillon with Bob Wells. In front are Rydin representatives Jessica Reisenbuchler and Emil Bukowski. (Jeff Gentry photo)

Swanson Awarded Fourth USAC Silver Crown Championship

Regular readers of UpNorth Motorsports know that I follow the racing career of Kody Swanson from Kingsburg, California now living in Indianapolis. Swanson recently won his fourth USAC Silver Crown Championship in a year which saw him win five races in a row and rack up a total of 24 wins breaking the 30 year record of Jack Hewitt.

The USAC Banquet is held in conjunction with the PRI Show though not an official event. This year’s ceremony was held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis Friday evening. In addition to USAC Silver Crown awards were given in all of the USAC sanctioned divisions.

The #63 Silver Crown entry of car owner Bob Hampshire was permanently retired to honor the multiple time champion. Hampshire was Swanson’s team owner in each of the four championship driver years and won the owners points championship in 2016 despite Swanson finishing second to driving champion Chris Windom.

Swanson on right pictured with legendary car owner Bob Hampshire at the 2018 edition of the USAC Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway. Swanson won the race. (Richard Golardi photo)

Kody Swanson reviewing his notes prior to going on stage to accept his fourth USAC Silver Crown championship. (Dave Olson Speed Graphics photo)


Kody Swanson with a number 63 branded tissue box, part of his speech honoring retiring Bob Hampshire, his car owner. (Dave Olson Speed Graphics  photo)

Watching are two of Kody Swanson’s biggest supporters, wife and spotter Jordan and son Trevor. Their infant son Adam was not at the awards ceremony. (Dave Olson Speed Graphics photo)

County kart racers gather awards at weekend ceremonies


Team JRT picked up some hardware at Speedway Karting 2018 awards ceremony at the Hermon Snowmobile Club Friday evening. Pictured left to right Jason Theriault third place Senior Sportsman Division, Roger Smith and Pete Roach officials of the Speedway Karting organization and Damian Theriault the Points Champion in the Senior Sportsman Division. (Team JRT photo)

Damian Theriault, Caribou, was awarded  the 2018 Triple X Senior Sportsman class and the Senior Sportsman Divisional Championship at Richmond Karting Speedway awards banquet at Le Club Calumet, Augusta on Saturday December 8th.(Team JRT photo)

Racers in the Briggs and Stratton Animal engine class at Speedway Racing at Speedway 95 in Hermon were recognized in a ceremony at the Hermon Snowmobile Club Friday December 7, 2018. Left to right points champion Noah Alexander, Kyle Morton 3rd, Garett McKee and Bryan Searles tied for 2nd with Speedway officials  Roger Smith and Pete Roach. Bryan Searles is the only racer from Aroostook County in this class. The 13 year-old is from Presque Isle. (BAS Racing photo)


Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)


Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine