One of the first things I learned about the Performance Racing Industry Show was that it was strictly professional. This wasn’t a show for the slapstick silliness of SEMA. It was straight down to professional racing and only professional racing. So I imagined it to be a room full of high-end racing parts. And it was. What I didn’t expect to see was a fleet of awesome cars. As the old saying goes, a show car is not always a race car, but a race car is always a show car.
If there were to be any cars, I knew, they would only be drag racers or oval track beasts. Wrong. While I was still in the hallway, before I saw a single banner saying “Performance Racing Industry,” I passed a mid-engine Ford Fiesta, custom-built for rallycross fun. There were heaps of open-wheel Indy cars, a grid full of road course sports cars, and even a honkin’ desert truck.
As announced shortly before the show, a 2015 Mustang was on hand for its first local review. Richard The King Petty was there to pull the sheet. I got a chance to talk with Steve Denby and Jeff Blazek, who worked on it, but that all deserves its own post. Suffice it to say for now that it’s one beautiful car in the metal.
Speaking of beautiful cars, I also saw three or four C7 Corvettes. Keep your round taillights. I’ll take the C7. The angles are threatening and unforgettable. I also spotted three Scion FR-S race cars, one of which now carried a turbocharged 2JZ for drifting. (Drifting is what we guessed, anyway, considering that the front bumper was zip-tied to the fenders.)
But what haunts me most still today is the Factory Five 818. I wrote about the 818 early this year. For fifteen grand and about 200 hours, you can build a supercar in your garage. I got to chat with Colby Whipple of F5 and Tom Studdard of Grassroots Motorsports, the 20-year-old who built one with the rest of Grassroots. As with the Mustang, this will get its own post.
So in terms of production and street legal cars, PRI was sort of a Best of 2013 special.
But those circle and drag cars did tend to take up most of the floor space. NASCAR cars and trucks were plentiful. Sprint and midget racers abounded. I felt a bit sorry for all the booths who hosted Late Model dirt cars, even the empty cages, because those things are massive. You could probably sleep comfortably with your head and your toes at the headlights. I can’t imagine drifting one at speed, trying not to obliterate it against other cars and the wall. These guys had to find a way to fit one in a booth.
The drag cars took up just as much space. There were a few John Force Mustang funnycars, a C2 Corvette stretched and stilted up on meats, and a brand new, stunning COPO Camaro. And speaking of Camaros, Tom Bailey’s copper stunner and Drag Week king, Sick Seconds, was on hand in the Holley booth.
I could go on. The Ford GT. The land speed record Honda CRX next to the 430 hp naturally aspirated drag Civic. The Formula SAE cars. The vintage Indy cars. But there’s only room in the human brain for so much awesome, and I don’t want to have a stroke.
Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for awesome activity, then flip through the gallery below and see for yourself.
[slickr-flickr type=”slideshow” tag=”Cars of PRI”]
[slickr-flickr type=”gallery” tag=”Cars of PRI”]
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.