Hey guys. We had a great time at PRI these past few days and as it was my first time going to both SEMA and PRI this year, I think I can supply some valuable insight comparing the two shows. SEMA is geared more towards people that are interested in doing show car type modifications, and stuff primarily for street cars. The performance end of things are setup mostly for the general public, and many companies are more interested in being first to market with a product than they are interested in perfecting the performance or design.
PRI on the other hand, is for the hardcore racers, engine builders, team owners etc. The people at this show all run very niche, usually small companies that specializes with incredible knowledge in VERY focused disciplines.
Motec for example, who are known for racing ECUs, held a few seminars that basically blew my mind this weekend. I’m still looking for parts of my brain because the explosion launched them all over the show floor. It’s amazing there is even a market for things so specialized, but the kind of knowledge these guys acquire is also used by people outside of motorsport. The military and OE manufacturers cannot pay people enough to acquire the knowledge these guys have, so they have to consult with them when they are dealing with leading edge technologies. It’s the passion that drives these companies to develop and test parts at the very limit that makes them so valuable.
These guys seem more interested in answering their own questions, than they are in making money! It’s the same kind of mindset I’ve always had, and I think that’s why we fit in so well at PRI rather than SEMA. Answering questions and doing development because it’s awesome and learning new things is the best. Not doing it just to get rich. Although of course, that would be nice.
And the things you see are mind boggling. We got a glimpse of Honda’s pro racing engines (ALMS LMP, IndyCar), and it’s just fucked. All of the drilled ports are plugged with machined aluminum plugs with circlips to retain them. The electronics are all integrated into the engine so you don’t see any wiring. The flywheel diameter is like four inches. The alternator and water pump are driven internally and everything is so compact and tiny, it’s a sight to be seen for anyone with attention to detail.
Dailey engineering has a dry sump oil pan for the VQ35 that just shows how awesome something can be if you have experience and knowledge and stop at nothing to produce a perfect product. Most dry sump systems require a ton of hoses and external pumps and filters and air oil separators. The Dailey pan has all of the scavenging ports built in, and routed directly to the pump – which looks at first glance to be one solid unit to the pan. The oil filter is even offered mounted directly on the pump, hows that for awesome?
Some circle track stuff is incredible – make fun of it if you want, but these guys have some really smart ideas. Things like vacuum pumps, tiny alternators, lots of chassis and tube frame technology has all been largely thanks to them, and the huge volume that these companies do in the circle track business means that we can now get some really gorgeous equipment for next to no money.
But what blew my mind the most, was the tiny glimpse of Formula 1 technology I got to see. ZF Sachs was there showcasing some of their F1 equipment, and the clutchs these things use are honest to god smaller than the palm of your hand. I don’t think they are more than 4 inches in diameter.
All in all, PRI was just like a candy land for nerdy racecar guys. Getting to learn from people that are so incredibly knowledgable about their specific niche was great, and I hope I can keep getting bites of information from these guys for the next few years.
If you’re passionate about the technical side of things then PRI is the show for you. We have so many cool ideas to try now, it’s not even funny. I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as things progress.
As for now, we’re at the airport, where our flight that was supposed to depart at 9.30pm is 5 hours delayed. We’re tired and just want to get home, but the show was so worth it. We’ll see all you kids soon.