4 Mistakes Not to Make at PRI

One of the coolest weeks of the year is now officially upon. Racers and fans from around the globe are preparing to converge on Indianapolis, Indiana. The focal point of their pilgrimage is ironically not a race. Instead it is the annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) tradeshow, which is held at the massive Indiana Convention Center.

If you can dream it or you can race it, then odds are it’s probably going to be on display. Cars, parts, tools, machines, apparel, and so much more will cram giant halls, side rooms, and corridors.

This will be a landmark year for the huge show as it celebrates its 30th edition.

The PRI show presents a great chance to get a jump on the upcoming racing season. You get the opportunity to check out the latest technology, shake a few hands, and maybe even lay some groundwork for some future ventures.

While the opportunities are limitless, the mistakes by attendees can also be readily available.

Thus is born this article, where I discuss things of which to be cautious. Some are mistakes I’ve seen made many times by others, while others are blunders that I’ve epically inflicted upon myself.

Bell Helmets

#1) Don’t Bypass the Planning
Let’s start out with what I consider to be a rookie mistake – although I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of it more than once. Odds are pretty decent that you have as well.

This show is massive!

Again, I’ll say it. This show is massive!

Even with three days on the docket to partake in the event, it is still easy to fall short of some of your goals for the show. There are hundreds upon hundreds of vendors and displays.

If you don’t have a game plan heading into the event, it could spell failure.

The good news is that the PRI website does a great job of giving you a one-stop resource to prepare. By visiting www.PerformanceRacing.com and clicking on the “Trade Show” link it will take you to a wealth of information about the event.

From a floor plan to a list of exhibitors to “need-to-know” info for attendees, the website is easy to navigate and extremely informative.

Furthermore, there’s a handy mobile app that you can download at www.pri2017.com/mobile that presents you with an interactive floor plan, list of exhibitors, and other cool features on your smart phone.

Between these two resources take an hour or so and make a list of your “must-see” booths. Mark their name and location. Take this list with you to the show, and after visiting each desired location, simply cross it off your list.

This sounds elementary, but it could be the difference in a successful trip and a wasted one.

Also, along the lines of planning it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the two main halls that you forget the booths in the accompanying corridors and side rooms. While these vendors may be a little harder to find, I’ve found that sometimes these nooks and crannies of the Indiana Convention Center can possess some of the best-kept secrets and best pieces of new technology at the show.

Again, just make sure you survey the map of the floorplan to ensure that you don’t miss anything.

#2) Don’t Be Looking to Seal the Deal
Everybody needs sponsors. Everybody wants sponsors. It’s a proven fact.

If you tell me that you feel any different, then I might tell you that you are fibbing.

PRI is a great opportunity to meet potential companies and individuals that you might partner with at some point in the future. It’s always good to put a face with a name. Establish a little bit of a foundation, and ultimately exchange a business card or two.

That’s the upside of what can be accomplished. Now let me share with you the steps not to take.

PRI is not the place to try and get a potential sponsor – whether it be monetary or product – to sign on the dotted line. If you try to take things to this level, then odds are you have not only wasted your time, but you’ve also wasted an opportunity.


These company representatives get absolutely inundated with sponsorship requests at tradeshows. I’ve had countless reps tell me that it’s the only part of the show that they dread.

Of course, it states in the PRI rules that solicitation of sponsorships is not allowed, but it ultimately happens thousands of times.

Don’t be that person.

Do a little talking, and then exchange business cards. A few weeks after the show reach out via e-mail or phone to these potential marketing partners to touch base. From there see what might grow.

I’m not saying that deals never get made at PRI because on rare occasions they do. However, more times than not deals get ruined by trying to force a hand.

It’s a really bad gamble to make. You wouldn’t hit a 19 at the blackjack table, so why destroy a positive lead on a potential sponsor?

Neither situation makes sense.

Sprint Car Chassis

Sprint Car Chassis

#3) Don’t Forget Clock Management

Just like your favorite team’s fate in the big game, your own success or failure at PRI can be determined by how you manage the clock. Don’t lose any of the benefits that PRI has to offer because you lose track of where you are in the day.

As stated repeatedly in this article, PRI is a massive show. It’s really overwhelming when you initially take a look at it. However, if you break it down into a game plan as outlined earlier in this piece, it’s really not so tough to handle.

Having a good game plan might not be enough though. You have to accompany it with good management of your time.

First and foremost, make sure you have your watch set to the Eastern time zone. It sounds trivial, but it’s easy to forget and can cost you an hour in the day before you ever get out of bed.

Next beware of hitting “black holes” in the aisles. You encounter these when you stop and bench race with buddies. What might seem like a few minutes can end up spanning more than an hour. Once this happens a couple of times your productivity is shot.

Not everybody is lucky enough to get to attend PRI for more than one day. If this is you, then you are really behind the gun with time management because you’ve got a ton of ground to cover.

As you mark stops off your planning list, make a mental note of how many booths remain on your schedule, so that you don’t fall short of the mark.

Again, none of this is rocket science, but if you aren’t thinking about these important factors, your tradeshow can get off track.

Jones Racing Products

 #4) Don’t Forget the Feet
I saved perhaps the most important tip for last. Well, it might not be as important to you as it is for me because I have the feet of an 80-year-old man.

Take care of your feet! Bring comfortable shoes.

You are about to walk miles upon miles of endless aisles. Most of these pathways consists of a thin layer of carpet that barely camouflages hard concrete. In the first half of the first day you will start to feel blisters and ultimately lower-back pain if you pick the wrong kicks for your feet.

It doesn’t matter how well you plan and how great your time management is, if you can’t walk. I mean you can’t win the feature if your right rear tire goes flat on the third lap.

Now I’m not saying to take your house slippers to the show, but find a nice compromise between comfort and professionalism.

You and your feet will thank me for it. I promise.

That wraps up my tips and suggestions for things to be cautious of at PRI 2017. The show is truly a great time, and has so much to offer.

I hope everyone enjoys their best PRI ever.

About the author

Ben Shelton

Ben got his start at historic Riverside International Speedway. His accomplished motorsports media career includes journalist, race announcer, and on-air personality.
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