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PRI Trade Show

PRI Thursday: 3D printer streamlines prototyping

December 12, 2013, 8:40 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 12) — The Indiana Convention Center doors opened Thursday for the first of three days at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, where 40,000 attendees are expected to check out 1,200 companies, including many with a Dirt Late Model focus. Thursday’s blog-style updates:

4:57 p.m. | Final Thursday tidbits

The show floor is closing at 5 p.m. and doors will reopen at 9 a.m. Friday for the second day of the three-day show. … Future Hall of Famer Steve Francis told DirtonDirt.com he plans to follow the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series again for Clint Bowyer Racing, along with running with NDRL (something fellow Lucas Oil driver John Blankenship also plans to do). Francis won’t have Bowyer’s equipment available for every NDRL event but plans to drive for another team in those cases. … Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., who left the GRT house car last season, plans to field his own black No. 18 Rocket Chassis in 2014. The 38-year-old DSI Motorsports racer plans to run Florida Speedweeks events at Volusia Speedway Park in February, and he’s considering a January trip to Tucson, Ariz. He’ll have sponsors Triple A Diesel, Merrill Bonding, Big Dog Motorsports, Pannell Chipping, Mark Martin Automotive, Hawkeye Truck Sales.com and Integra Shocks on board. … Paul Wilmoth Jr. and Andre Layfield toured the PRI floor Thursday on behalf of Quick Time Suspension, an 18-month-old business they’re trying to grow. The shock rebuilders and setup specialists have customers in West Virginia, Va., Kentucky, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Wilmoth, 42, still competes a few dozen times a season and matched his career-high with a $10,000 victory at Elkins Raceway in Kerens, W.Va., on July 20.

4:52 p.m. | Cutting prototype costs

Speed wins races, but it also wins in manufacturing. That’s why Scott Keyser is thrilled to find a quicker, cheaper way to make prototype components that can go into production sooner than ever. | Complete PRI coverage

“Racing just changes so fast,” Keyser said Thursday from the Coopersville, Mich.-based company’s PRI booth. “It could change on a Friday night — and you’ve gotta be able to react.”

Keyser’s magic bullet? A 3D printer that can “print” plastic components of any CAD design overnight, drastically cutting the time and labor of building prototypes in a workflow that doesn’t require shutting down regular production machines.

At PRI, Keyser’s Integra Shocks is showing off a new four-way adjustable shock that was prototyped using the 3D printer that Keyser purchased this summer. It’s a project Keyser developed on paper for more than a year but streamlining the process with the 3D printer made it happen.

Any object that can be drawn with computer-assisted design can be created overnight, Keyser said. “You just hit print like you do on your computer,” he said, then perfect the plastic prototype before going into production.

The 3D printer will also increase productivity in making minor changes on existing components. If field representatives Brian Daugherty or Gary Winger discover something one weekend that needs tweaking, the company can potentially have a slightly modified component ready to go the next weekend.

Such a process already worked for Terry Phillips, the champion driver from Springfield, Mo., who had a special request for a modified brake caliper this season. Phillips sent Keyser his request, then designers spent an hour creating the CAD drawing. They “printed” the component overnight and sent it to Phillips. He was able to test the plastic prototype to see that it fit his requirements, allowing Keyser to bring production of the special part.

Before the 3D printer, such a scenario was impossible. “Now I can do it in a matter of a day and have it in his hand,” Keyser said.

3:08 p.m. | House party at GRT

After splitting with house car driver Jack Sullivan midway through 2013, GRT Race Cars co-founder Joe Garrison decided to have a few guest drivers before announcing his plans for 2014. Garrison told DirtonDirt.com today at PRI that Arizona native Jeremy Payne of Springfield, Mo., will be the primary house car driver in 2014 as part of a three-pronged approach for GRT.

Payne, the driver of GRT’s modified house car, will add the Late Model to his driving duties. He’s an eight-time career winner on the MARS DIRTcar Series and will compete on that tour along with the Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association.

Garrison is attracted by several of Payne’s qualities: “he’s energetic, young, pretty aggressive … I like the way he charges,” he said. Also Payne is bringing along sponsorship from Texas' Jeff Allgayer.

While Payne will compete for GRT closer to its Greenbrier, Ark., shop, GRT will field a second a house for Jason Fitzgerald of Jacksonville, Fla., on the Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series, a second-year tour for cars utilizing Chevy’s CT 525 all-aluminum crate engine.

Last but not least, Garrison plans to have a third car in Greenbrier that will be driven occasionally by standout drivers — Dale McDowell among them — at other big purse events.

Payne will either drive a No. 186, his personal number, or No. 30, in honor of GRT’s 30th anniversary, Garrison said. Fitzgerald is expected to drive a No. 7 and the third car will either be No. 1 or No. 30, depending on Payne’s number.

3 p.m. | A familiar tradition

David Bryant, crew chief for Maryville, Tenn.-based Blount Motorsports, said he often gets a bigger kick out of looking at the hot rods than the Late Model booths at the PRI show that can be a little monotonous.

“Making circles,” Bryant said while stopping near the Eibach Springs booth. “It’s just the same ol’, same ol.’ ” But Bryant realizes connecting with manufacturers is key for race teams to “see the faces and learn who you’re dealing with” throughout the season.

Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn., will again pilot Blount cars full time with Tommy Kerr of Maryville, making another dozen starts or so. The team plans its customary schedule of regional events, including likely runs with the Ray Cook-promoted Spring Nationals and Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals.

Ogle finished second in points on both tours last season, and Bryant would like to see him improve that by a spot. “I really want to win one of them,” Bryant said he told team members at a recent meeting.

Ogle’s regional schedule gets a boost with an impressive special-event schedule at Maryville’s Smoky Mountain Speedway, but it may take a hit if Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway is sold for non-racing activities. “It’s sad for racing … you hate to see it,” Bryant said of Cleveland.

2:51 p.m. | PRI odds and ends

Don't miss the release of the 44-race World of Outlaws Late Model Series schedule. ... Long-time Nebraska driver and car owner Al Humphrey of Giltner, who partnered with Jesse Stovall in recent seasons, said at PRI that he plans to put Travis Dickes of Madison, Neb., in his car in 2014. Dickes was 2013’s Rookie of the Year on the Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association and a former champ with the Nebraska-based Super Late Model Racing Series. … Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., who is tackling the Lucas Oil Series in 2014, is working more closely with Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series champion William Thomas after selling Thomas a GRT Race Car recently. … In releasing its 2014 schedule, Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway has boosted the winning purse of the 25th annual Prairie Dirt Classic to $25,000. That’s a $5,000 boost from last year for the World of Outlaws Series event, making it the richest race in track history. See more on DirtWire.

Correction: Fixes Humphrey's home state to Nebraska.

2:27 p.m. | Travels near and far

As driver Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., and crew chief Robby Allen walked the PRI floor, they stopped briefly to talk about travels — between racetracks as well as between aisles.

Satterlee, whose nine victories at seven tracks, including two on the World of Outlaws circuit, gave him one of his best seasons, will likely stick with a similar schedule in 2014, hitting the best regional events while making select trips with the WoO tour.

Did he consider following NDRL, the second-year national tour and WoO rival? Not after he saw the schedule with race conflicts against WoO’s Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., just an hour from Satterlee’s home, as well as a conflict with a longer planned trip to WoO’s USA Nationals at Cedar Lake in Wisconsin.

Still, Satterlee will find plenty of races near and far, as he and Allen toured the trade show aisles, near and far.

“It’s awful big,” Allen said of the show that’s expanded with PRI absorbing IMIS and dominating the entire Indiana Convention Center. At last year’s IMIS, a trip down a row of 20 exhibitors might net 15 that relate to short-track racing, but everything’s a bit more far flung now with open-wheel racing, go-karts, hot rods and other types of racing mixed in.

Allen noted that the trailer section and heavy equipment sections were all in one place, and it’d be nice if they could do that with types of racing, splitting up drag racing here, dirt racing there, and so on.

“If they could get all the stuff in sections,” Allen said, “I think it would be easier.”

1:25 p.m. | MB Customs marches on

Former Dirt Track World Champion Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., downplayed Brian Birkhofer’s departure from MB Customs Chassis. Birkhofer was the “B” to the “M” of Mars — Jimmy and brother Chris, of Mars Race Cars — but the Iowan decided earlier in the fall to go to a Rocket Chassis for 2014.

Because the chassis development and sales are out of Wisconsin, “nothing changed” with Birkhofer’s departure, Mars said while visiting the Integra Shocks booth at PRI.

“When you don’t have an investment, it’s easy to move,” Mars said of Birkhofer, adding that chassis-switching cycles come and go in Dirt Late Model racing.

Mars didn’t have a strong season himself, but A.J. Diemel and Chris Simpson were among the most successful MB Customs drivers in 2013, with Simpson winning $10,000 in his first UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory and Diemel leading more than half of WoO’s USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway before engine failure struck.

“We’ve just gotta keep moving forward,” said Mars, who said his struggles left him to try “home runs or Hail Marys” that never panned out. He recorded a single Late Model victory and picked up another checkered flag in his modified.

Mars said the off-season is for ideas on how to improve, and if he’s got 50 ideas, hopefully five of them will pan out. “There’s always something new that you’re working on,” he said.

12:20 p.m. | Weiss hitting the road

Two-time WISSOTA Late Model champion Ricky Weiss of Winnipeg, Manitoba, plans his most ambitious schedule in eight years of Late Model racing in 2014 in chasing Rookie of the Year honors on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

The 25-year-old Weiss, who has competed in several national events including Florida Speedweeks action the past two seasons, will be assisted by former Lucas driver Terry Casey and his wife Lori in tackling the national tour.

His biggest challenge? “Learning everything,” Weiss said summing it all up. And Casey, who was signing into the PRI show with Weiss, added: “Being able to adapt to everything.”

Weiss will lean heavily on his crew chief Casey, who won three of the first eight Lucas Oil races of the 2008 season en route to capturing Rookie of the Year honors. His knowledge of tires, particularly, will help Weiss, whose best success has come in tire-rule races where selection isn’t an issue.

“We feel like we can keep up,” said Weiss, who will make his first starts at more than half the tracks on the Lucas Oil schedule. He’ll start the season next month in Arizona to “shake everything down,” but mostly the team will stick exclusively with Lucas Oil Series events in 2014.

11:24 a.m. | Moyer’s chassis switch

Long-time crew chief Steve Norris has seen Billy Moyer succeed in just about everything he’s driven over his Hall of Fame career, so he doesn’t expect Moyer will have any issues with his switch to a Longhorn Chassis after running with Victory Circle Chassis more than six seasons.

“He can drive a tractor, he can drive a wheelbarrow … just give him a little time and he can drive anything,” Norris said.

The Batesville, Ark., shop will begin dealing Longhorns as well as servicing Victory Circle Cars, and the evolution from one chassis to another is simply part of the sport, Norris said.

“You have to think positive; racing comes with change always,” Norris said. “You have to keep up.”

11:16 a.m. | Carlton ready for NDRL tour

Former Southern All Stars and Ultimate Series director Kelley Carlton is excited about his first season as NDRL’s series director for founder John Kennedy.

“(Hall of Famer and Southern All Star founder) B.J is my hero, and he’s always going to be my hero, but I’ve never worked with anybody like John,” Carlton said, adding that Kennedy simply handed him the keys to run the tour. “I’m overwhelmed at how well it’s come together.”

NDRL, the third national tour joining the World of Outlaws and Lucas Oil Series, has 39 points and non-points races that will take Carlton to a number of tracks he’s never visited. Carlton says he’ll be able to juggle hours of his job as an EMS training coordinator in Newberry County, S.C. — and time with his daughter — among the series dates so he can attend every race.

11:10 a.m. | PRI tidbits

With Matt Barnes coming off the road for the Rocket Chassis house car team, Randle Edwards is joining the team as crew chief. Edwards has worked with Billy Moyer, Darrell Lanigan and most recently Morgan Bagley. … John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., who announced this week he’ll follow the NDRL schedule along with the Lucas Oil Series, has now decided also to tackle NDRL’s action next month in Tucson, Ariz. …. Billy Moyer’s team is delivering a Victory Circle Chassis to Pennsylvania driver Ron Delano Jr., making the handoff while in Indianapolis. … Kentucky native Austin Hargrove, former crew chief for World 100 winner Bart Hartman, plans to work with Davey Johnson of Latrobe, Pa., in 2014. Hargrove spent 2013 with Pennsyvlania driver Mason Zeigler. Hargrove will work out of the Imperial, Pa., shop that Davey shares with his brother Mike. … Scott Bloomquist’s chassis partnership with Randy Sweet has hatched a new name for the Bloomquist Race Cars. Bloomquist’s car on display in the Penske booth is labeled Sweet Bloomquist Race Cars. … Josh Richards actually has three cars on display: one in the Hall of Champions, one in the Strange Engineering booth and one in the Five Star Bodies booth. “It’s going to be a hassle getting out of here,” Richards said, adding the cars came in three separate trailers. One of the cars was actually on display in Indianapolis last year.

10:05 a.m. | Davenport to Longhorn, too

The off-season news that Billy Moyer is moving to the Bobby Labonte Racing in-house Longhorn Chassis has been followed at PRI with Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., moving to Longhorns, too, with plans to follow the National Dirt Racing League.

Longhorn has formed a partnership with Davenport’s car owner Steve Cooke of Mount Airy, N.C.-based AES Racing to drive the Rumley Enterprises No. 6 out of Labonte’s Trinity, N.C., shop. Steve Shaver drove Rumley’s car part-time in 2013.

Kevin Rumley, the engineer for Labonte and Longhorn, praised Shaver’s partnership with the long-running team over the past four seasons, but looks forward to fielding cars with AES and Davenport, who briefly drove for the Rumleys several seasons ago.

“I am very excited to work with the Rumleys and race out of the historic Labonte Racing shop,” Davenport said in a news release. “We will use the combined knowledge of the Labontes and Rumleys to strengthen the performance of the Longhorn Chassis.”

Davenport is anxious to chase the second-year NDRL circuit and its $65,000 championship with Rumley and his father Lee Roy, who has more than 50 years of experience fielding a race team and building engines.

“Kevin is one of the sharpest people in Dirt Late Model racing and I can’t wait to pick back up where we left off in a new challenge with Kevin, Lee Roy, Longhorn and AES Racing in my corner,” he said.

9:55 a.m. | The Lanigan-Stuckey connection

Tony Jackson Jr.’s car is on display in the Eibach Springs booth, the first unveiling of the new chassis developed by two-time World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and long-time chassis specialist Ronnie Stuckey of Shrevenport, La.

Jackson, 2013’s MARS DIRTcar Series and Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association champion, plans to debut his car next month at Tucson (Ariz.) International Raceway’s Winter Extreme, a six-race set of National Dirt Racing League events. He’s looking forward to his first trip to the desert.

“I’m sure we’ll have some bugs to work out,” Jackson said, but he’s confident in his collaboration with Lanigan that reaches back to when he purchased Lanigan-tweaked Rocket Chassis from the Kentucky veteran. “I feel whatever Darrell does it going to be good.”

And not altogether unfamiliar to Jackson, who said the front end of the new car is nearly identical to what Lanigan did with his Rockets, and that Lanigan had some ideas for rear-end improvements that he and Stuckey added.

“Hopefully that makes us a litle better than we did last year,” said Jackson, Missouri’s top performer in 2013.

The name of the cars? It depends on where you get them, Jackson said. Cars out of Lanigan’s shop will be dubbed Club 29 Race Cars, while cars from Stuckey’s shop will carry the Black Diamond Chassis moniker. The frames are the same but suspension and other tweaks are unique to each shop.

9:49 a.m. | Covering every nook and cranny

In recent years of the IMIS show at Indianapolis, the show floor has been manageable, and even small enough for a single section of the Indiana Convention Center. But with PRI absorbing IMIS and back at Indy, it seems every nook and corner is filled with a booth, with areas that were formerly hallways, concessions or meeting rooms converted to booth space.

“They had no choice,” said Gerald Newton of Arizona Sport Shirts, looking around at the more than 1,200 companies represented at the show that runs through Saturday afternoon.

The good news for Newton and other companies that formerly had two booths at IMIS in Indianapolis and PRI in Orlando is that they’ve got a single show to attend. Instead of a pair of 10x20-foot booths in two locations, Newton is back to a 20x30-foot booth in the center of one of the main halls.

“We got lucky and this spot came open — and we took it,” Newton said.

9:38 a.m. | A few tidbits to get started at Indy

Remember the PRI show is back at Indianapolis after several years in Orlando, Fla. PRI absorbed the existing International Motorsports Industry Show that had been held in recent years at the Indiana Convention Center, but the floor space is drastically expanded from even the biggest years of IMIS.  Among the cars we expect to see on the show floor are Scott Bloomquist’s jet-black, half-decaled machine in the Penske Racing Shocks booth, Billy Moyer’s new Moyer Xtreme by Longhorn Chassis (and it’s yellowish hue) in the National Dirt Racing League booth and the Rocket Chassis house car of World of Outlaws Late Model Series champ Josh Richards. … While DirtonDirt.com has already published the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals schedule, other schedules expected at PRI are the WoO schedule along with a pair of schedules from Ray Cook for his Spring Nationals and Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals. … The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series banquet is scheduled for Thursday evening at the Lucas Estate in nearby Carmel, Ind. Jimmy Owens will receive his third series championship trophy and Billy Moyer Jr. gets JRi Shocks Rookie of the Year honors.

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