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Friday's live reports from Orlando's PRI trade show

November 30, 2012, 10:46 am
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 30) — The second day of the 25th annual Performance Racing Industry trade show is under way Friday in Orlando. The three-day show has attracted thousands of motorsports enthusiasts from all corners of the industry to the Orange County Convention Center. Below are DirtonDirt.com’s blog-style updates from the show:

4:35 p.m.: Day two wraps up

Another slow day for PRI — at least in regards to the Dirt Late Model world — is drawing to a close and attendees are heading for the exits at the Orange County Convention Center. There’s still one more day for the show, but attendance among Dirt Late Model drivers has been slim so far. Here’s a list of drivers that we’ve spotted during the first two days of the show. | Trade show coverage index

Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Randy Weaver, Crossville, Tenn.
Daren Friedman, Forest, Ill.*
Casey Roberts, Toccoa, Ga.
Randle Chupp, Troutman, N.C.
Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Jason Fitzgerald, Jacksonville, Fla.
Brandon Dewitt, Morven, Ga.
Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Dillon Wood, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Matt Miller, Whitehouse, Ohio*
Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Johnny Pursley, Clover, S.C.
Austin Hubbard, Seaford, Del.
Jimmy Thomas, Phenix City, Ala.
Matt Long, Concord, N.C.

* attending as vendor representative

4:07 p.m.: Bloomquist eyes Eldora Truck race

When the regulars of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series tackle Eldora Speedway’s half-mile dirt oval for the first time next year, there’s a good chance they’ll have to race against Scott Bloomquist. The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer said today at PRI that he’s been contacted by multiple Truck Series teams and will most likely compete in the July 24 event.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Bloomquist, who’s hanging out in the Roush-Yates Engines booth today at PRI. “Anything new and different, just like the (open-wheel modified) I drove at Batesville a few years back, I really get up for that kind of stuff.”

Bloomquist views NASCAR’s return to dirt as positive for dirt track racing, especially if prominent dirt track drivers like himself participate in the race.

“I really think a lot of the dirt guys should do it,” Bloomquist said. “I’m sure with me racing it and whoever else does, it’ll be talked about on TV and that’ll just key more people in on our sport that may not have had much exposure to it before.”

Bloomquist isn’t planning to enter the Truck race just for the exposure, however. That was obvious today when he was asked how he expected to perform against the NASCAR regulars. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” he answered.

3:48 p.m.: Bloomquist on Indy move

Like most PRI attendees from the Dirt Late Model world, Scott Bloomquist has noticed the decline in our sport’s participation in the show over the past few years. He, like many others, attributes that to the IMIS show in Indianapolis.

“It’s no doubt it’s gone down,” Bloomquist said. “Everybody’s just keyed in on Indy and what it offers. A lot of things aren’t here for the Dirt Late Model side of it that you’ll see up there next week. Guys know that, so they tend to focus on that show.”

Bloomquist believes PRI’s move back to Indy next year will be a positive.

“They’re going to have a tremendous crowd up there next year,” Bloomquist said. “I think Indy was probably the best place for it, but it just out grew its old location. Now that Indy can accommodate it, it’s going to be better off up there.”

2:57 p.m.: Hot spot for mods

Attendance by Dirt Late Model drivers isn’t the only area that’s lacking this year at PRI. A World Racing Group official earlier noted that attendance among sprint car drivers is down a bit, too, but added that he’s seen plenty of big-block modified drivers from the Northeast.

1:31 p.m.: Few drivers at PRI

After spotting just 11 Dirt Late Model drivers at the show Thursday, finding more drivers at the show today has proven even more difficult thus far. We’ve only seen five more. Here’s our updated list with today's additions tacked on to the bottom:

Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Randy Weaver, Crossville, Tenn.
Daren Friedman, Forest, Ill.*
Casey Roberts, Toccoa, Ga.
Randle Chupp, Troutman, N.C.
Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Jason Fitzgerald, Jacksonville, Fla.
Brandon Dewitt, Morven, Ga.
Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Dillon Wood, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Matt Miller, Whitehouse, Ohio*
Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Johnny Pursley, Clover, S.C.
Austin Hubbard, Seaford, Del.
Jimmy Thomas, Phenix City, Ala.
Matt Long, Concord, N.C.

* attending as vendor representative

12:51 p.m.: Southern Nationals schedule

Series promoter Ray Cook has released the schedule for next year’s ninth annual Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals. The 10-race mid-summer tour features five events pay $3,500-to-win and five $5,300-to-win with each feature starting earning at least $450 each night. Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., is the four-time and reigning series champion. | Full Southern Nationals schedule

While attending PRI on Thursday, Cook told DirtonDirt.com that he plans to make an announcement next week at the IMIS trade show in Indianapolis, Ind., regarding more race promoting plans he has for next season.

12:33 p.m.: Lucas Oil schedule additions

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series has added a pair of dates to its 2013 schedule in the past two days. The national tour announced on Thursday announced its first-ever trip to Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park is set for Aug. 30. The $10,000-to-win race will be part of a tripleheader weekend for the series along with Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park on Aug. 31 and I-77 Raceway Park in Ripley, W.Va., on Sept. 1 for the $25,000-to-win Hillbilly 100.

Today, Lucas Oil officials announced the addition of a April 21 date at the shortened West Virginia Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells, W.Va. The $10,000-to-win event will be the third race of another tripleheader for the tour along with an April 19 at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa., and Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on April 20. | Full Lucas Oil schedule

11:54 a.m.: Pursley’s 2013 plans

Johnny Pursley of Clover, S.C., is attending PRI looking to land deals on parts for a new MasterSbilt Race Car he’s putting together over the offseason. Pursley, who’s coming off a near miss in the championship battle on the inaugural Battle of the Eastern All Stars Tour, said the car is his first new one in nearly five years.

He plans to run the new car on the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series next season, and said he’s also working on a deal to drive for car owner Donnie Crowder on the BEAST series. Winning the BEAST championship will be a main goal for Pursley after he lost this year’s title in a tiebreaker to Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga.

11:37 a.m.: Engine builder embraces Crates

South Carolina engine builder Kenny Lamb was spotted walking the trade show floor this morning. He said the show is one of the few opportunities he gets to see many of his parts suppliers in person. “You deal with so many people over the phone throughout the year, but it’s nice to get to actually see them and put a face with the name,” Lamb said.

Lamb, who builds Super Late Model engines for drivers like Casey Roberts and Johnny Pursley, recently partnered with veteran driver Ray Cook for Cook’s foray into Crate Late Model racing by providing Cook an GM 604 crate engine. The partnership powered Cook to his $20,000 Turkey 100 victory last weekend at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway.

While some engine builders dislike the Crate infusion into Dirt Late Model racing, Lamb, who is an approved rebuilder for the Fastrak Series, is one engine builder who embraces it. He said he averages 50 to 60 Crate rebuilds a year, which is a great boost to his business.

Noting that tech officials at Swainsboro completely disassembled his engine following Cook’s victory last weekend, Lamb stressed that strict enforcement of engine rules and tough penalties for those who break them is a must to compete the Crate division viable.

11:14 a.m.: Thomas plans move to Crates

Reigning East Alabama Motor Speedway Super Street champion Jimmy Thomas of Phenix City, Ala., has a busy day planned at PRI. He’s not only walking the show floor to visit parts suppliers for his father Ben’s Scorpion Race Cars, but also here to hopefully find a good deal on a new race trailer.

The 20-year-old Thomas will need that trailer next season as he plans to make the move to the Crate Late Model division, competing with the NeSmith Late Model Series. Thomas isn’t sure if he’ll follow the entire NeSmith tour, but he’s excited about the move up as he looks to follow in the footsteps of his cousin William, who’s transitioned from the Crate ranks to a solid regional standout in the Super Late Model division in recent years.

Thomas doesn’t expect his adjustment to Crates to be too difficult after his successful year this year in EAMS’s Super Street division, which features Late Model chassis with a stock front clip.

11:00 a.m.: Early morning seminar

Dirt Late Model drivers and teams arriving to the show early Friday had the chance to catch a free setup seminar featuring veteran drivers Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa. Representatives from Roush-Yates Engines also participated in the seminar, which highlighted winning engine and chassis strategies in Dirt Late Model racing. Bloomquist and Eckert both reported that a large crowd turned out for the seminar.

 
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