PRI Show in Orlando, and then off to Daytona!


NASCAR 2012 Injection MotorThe PRI (Performance Racing Industry) show in Orlando, Florida is the largest racing trade show in the country.  Occupying a major portion of the Orlando Convention Center, it takes a full two days just to see it all. But, while this show is huge, in my opinion it concentrates more on street performance and drag racing, leaving the equivalent show in Indianapolis to provide better content for circle track racers. 

Tony and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday there and saw some really cool stuff.  There was a guy from Canada selling a creeper that featured a cage to protect the mechanic in the event the car should fall.  We liked it, especially with headlight to illuminate the work area and all, but question the salability at $1,000.  The new NASCAR Fuel Injection motor was on display, and the list goes on.


AJ Almendinger The winner of the “coolest” thing at the show was the group showing a racing simulator.  For only $150,000 you too can practice just like the racers from all major teams do.  They had two of them set up and you could race your buddy.  For some reason or another, Tony failed to add my name to the list when he signed up for his turn (yeah, we can all guess :-)), so I was a passenger on his ride.   This thing is SO real, every time Tony crashed I could feel the impact.  Over and over I felt the wall, another car, the grass, the wall again as Tony smashed his way around an F1 course.  Rather than remind him of his failure to add my name to that list, I just smiled at each and every crash.  Life is sweet! 


In the evening we were entertained by a celebrity go-cart race.  AJ Almendinger, Arie Luyendyk, and many more were on hand and put on a pretty good show.

North Turn Beach Bar & GrillWith the show behind us we rented a car and drove to Daytona.  Our first stop was the North Turn Beach Bar & Grill.  Before the Speedway was built in Daytona, they raced a course that was half road and half beach.  I’m not sure how big the track was (different accounts have different answers), but basically they’d race down the A1A highway for a mile or more, then make a left turn onto the beach and race back.  Once again they’d make a left, this time to get back on the highway, and do it all over again. 

As many as 140 cars would show up and it was an endless stream of cars, with the survivor winning as often as the fastest racer.  The North Turn BB&G became famous back then as it was situated, where else, right at the North Turn.  Today, it’s a wonderful museum that should be on every racers “must see” list.  It’s almost sad to see Condo’s built on the race track. Bob Pronger

Tony had been there before and quickly showed me the newspaper article of Bob Pronger winning the pole back then.  When I raced at Raceway Park in Blue Island, Illinois, Pronger was one of the “regulars”, and was pretty damn good.  I’d heard a thousand stories about Pronger’s escapades back then, and how the “good ole boys” down south did some nasty stuff to him just to keep him out of their exclusive little club.  Apparently all those stories were true and I must confess, it felt good to see a local boy honored on the wall of the restaurant. 

Bobby Allison 68' ChevelleAfter enjoying lunch there, we headed to the Living Legends racing museum.  The first thing that surprised me was the Bobby Allison 68 Chevelle on display.  My friend Jerry Schneider is building a 68’ Chevelle to compete in the Vintage series, and together we’ve been researching different options for him and this is one of them.

As I’m shooting pictures of that Chevelle, I struck up a conversation with the trio that was obviously running the place.  When the lady asked me if I knew who Ray Fox was, I instantly replied “Of course.  Who in auto racing doesn’t”? “Well”, she replied, “This is Ray”. Turns out he's 96 years old, and doing great! 

Ray Fox & Gary MitidieroI was elated to actually meet the man that has compiled a record of fourteen NASCAR Cup wins, sixteen Pole positions, and won the 1960 Daytona 500 with Junior Johnson driving a car that Ray built in just seven days.  “Back in the day” this guy was one of the most respected engine/car builders in NASCAR.  Guys like David Pearson and Junior Johnson were honored to drive a “Ray Fox” car, and I was honored to have him autograph his book for me.  I can’t wait to read it. 

When I told them about possible plans to replicate the Chevelle in their museum, they said that the original builder was a regular there and that they would have him contact me.  I hope he does. 

As the conversation progressed, we found out that they also have David Pearson’s 61’ NASCAR Pontiac (built by Ray Fox, of course) in the back in a trailer.  A few minutes later we were outside, listening to the roar of the motor in that Pontiac. 

61' NASCAR PontiacThere are some things that you know, but somehow when confronted with, still spark quite an emotion.  Looking at that old Pontiac reminded me of how they used to take stock automobiles, make a few changes, and go racing with them.  This 61’ Pontiac is a stunning example.  Original dashboard, original chrome, still has the vent in the passenger kick plate (look close at the picture), stock fender walls, stock grill, and the list goes on.  On this car, the driver’s door opened, as did the inside door bars.  If nothing else, cars like this serve as a reminder that once upon a time the “Stock Car” part of Stock Car Racing had some meaning. 

All in all it was great trip and a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Tony.  Now, all I have to do is figure out a way to get him to forgive me for laughing so hard every time he crashed that simulator.  Did I mention that he crashed it over and over and over?


The PRI show does not allow cameras, and TSA is already a PITA, so all I had was my phone camera. The pictures aren't good, but (slightly) better than nothing. Pictures 


See you at the races,