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Sat, 20 Dec 2008, 08:24 AM

Solid Crowds Mark 2008 PRI Trade Show as Racing Industry Gathers in a Show of Strength
Courtesy of Pete Evanow

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. -- With proof in the sheer number of buyers coming through the doors on Opening Day at the 21st Annual PRI Trade Show, the motorsports industry put on a remarkable show of strength. The commitment to preview and purchase the hottest new racing products and precision machining equipment remained high, with many participants saying their overall impression was that this show was truly "the best ever."

"I also say 'best ever' because those who attended the show in Orlando, Dec. 11-13, saw the action with 1,350 exhibitors and their products within 3,900 booths, and this was a sign that our industry continues to defy all projections for a downturn," stated Steve Lewis, producer of the PRI Trade Show. "These companies are like a gigantic magnet that brought attendees from all around the world to walk the aisles to view, touch and buy these innovative products and services, and that's really what it's all about. The 2009 racing season is officially off and running, and it should be a good one, based on what we all saw at the 21st PRI Trade Show."

Some of the significant events occurring this year at the world's largest racing trade show:

* 40,000 buyers came from across the U.S., and from a total of 50 countries.

* Fox TV NASCAR Commentator Jeff Hammond once again hosted a lively discussion at the Industry Roundtable with a number of expert panelists, amid attendance by over 500.

* Legendary NASCAR Crew Chief Dale Inman entertained a crowd of 3,000 at the Grand Opening Breakfast with personal stories about racing with Driver and cousin Richard Petty in the 1960s and '70s. Inman's speech was briefly interrupted when a beautifully restored Petty race car was driven to the stage by NASCAR driver Ken Schrader.

* The third Snap-on Stars of Karting All-Stars produced another dynamic show, highlighted by the 28 pro drivers in the Masters division who all took the challenge as seriously as they would any race within their respective race series. IRL's Jay Howard took the Pro Stars division win, while Joel Miller won the Karter division race.

* The AETC motorsports engineering conference once again preceded the PRI Trade Show and attendance was up significantly this with racing engine builders, motorsports engineers and auto racing industry entrepreneurs all participating in the numerous seminars.

The PRI Trade Show continues to offer companies, racing organizations and professional race teams the opportunity to make announcements. Highlights included:

* Legendary motorsports journalist Chris Economaki announced Six-Time NHRA Top Fuel Champion Tony Schumacher as this year's Economaki Champion of Champions presented by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. This was Schumacher's second Economaki award.

* Mazda North American Operations announced that a pair of BP-sponsored Mazda MZR-R-powered Lolas would be fielded by Dyson Racing for the 2009 ALMS series

* Toyo Tires announced a new DOT-approved Drag Radial, the Proxes TQ

* NASCAR announced a 10-year Automotive Performance Partnership with Comp Cams

* SCCA will bring back the venerable Trans-Am Championship next year

* Lucas Oil announced that it will partner with Geico Insurance to sponsor the Forrest Lucas- owned Top Fuel dragster that will be run by Morgan Lucas in the 2009 NHRA series

The PRI Trade Show is recognized as the 45th largest U.S. trade show, according to Tradeshow Week magazine.

Dates for the 22nd Annual PRI Trade Show in Orlando are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, December 10-12, 2009.

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