I used to think the Performance Racing Industry's annual tradeshow was more or less a gathering of old men. Old men passionate about things like 800-cfm four-barrel carburetors, vacuum advance distributors, and huge displacement OHV engines. Either that or a somewhat successful attempt at filling a big convention center with engines, race bits and pieces, and machinery-almost none of which have anything to do with anything other than eight-cylinder pedigree and weren't intended for anything bolted together outside of Motown.It is.

But wait. There's nothing wrong with old men. Or four-barrel carburetors. Or pushrod engines. The gobs of backbreaking, low-end torque a 454-cid LS6 makes is enough to make even the burliest STi owner pee his pants at the stoplight. We can appreciate that.

If you own, are building, or are thinking about one day building a race car-any kind of race car-you want to go to PRI next year. If you're into tools-tools so large they won't fit in your garage or expensive tools like lathes, mills, drill presses, honing and balancing equipment, fabrication tooling, and precision measuring instruments-you want to go to PRI next year. And if you have anything at all to do with the high-performance auto racing industry-it should go without saying this excludes those interested in high-luster-polished dub deuces; body kits that look like they belong on something orbiting Earth; mudders big enough to lose a Mini in a fenderwell; and anything to do with undercarriage lights and stickers-you want to go to PRI next year. You won't be disappointed.

There was no shortage of good ol' boy V-8 muscle at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center, where PRI's 19th annual show was held. And that's OK. We can still admire, even occasionally lust after, and incidentally tell you about, the legions of hardcore race parts, gear and equipment we saw there-those destined for Detroit iron or otherwise. There were still tons of parts and equipment there that we want ... that you'll want, and many of these parts make no qualms when it comes to what type of engine bay they're destined for.

A large part of PRI's one million square feet is occupied by Machinery Row-a section so large it needs its own name, and an easy place to lose any semblance of a show strategy. Machinery Row gives people like me the opportunity to look at a bunch of tools I've never used, I can't afford and that I probably won't see again until next year. You won't find a display of crescent wrenches or a table full of flathead screwdriver sets on Machinery Row. What you will find are more than 120 vendors showing off hydraulic tube benders you wish you had, the latest in valve-grinding equipment your machine shop wants, and trick electronic gadgetry used for measuring cool things like tubing wall thickness. Most had working displays, so we got to see things like 5-inch diameter tubes bent into compound shapes with the push of a button, as well as dyno pulls outside the halls of the convention center.

But performance parts are, after all, the reason we came to PRI. We wanted to see a bunch of stuff we can use to make our cars move faster, turn better and stop sooner. There was no disappointment. Even though most everything at PRI is geared toward big-cubic-inch V-8s, there were still rows of parts that could care less as to what engine type they're fitted to-parts like oil catch tanks, specialty coatings, intercoolers and synthetic oils. On a side note, there were four-cylinder engines on display. We found the HKS booth in a remote location of the room, which had a lone 4G63 on a stand. Kind of sad.

There were just as many things at PRI designed to protect you once you get those parts that made you go fast-and crash. Simpson, G-Force, Sparco, they were all there. Since the PRI show caters to all that racing entails, we found tons of driver's gear. The number of racing shoes was on par with a Payless. The racks of fire jackets and suits made me think of an alternate-universe version of Men's Wearhouse. Fire suppression equipment, helmets, and Hans devices were also big at this year's show; as were parachutes, window nets, and neck and arm restraints.

Beyond that, there was plenty of other equipment too. If you've ever participated in any form of organized racing, you're aware of the equipment involved. Besides an actual race vehicle, race teams need trailers, fuel transport systems, and communications devices. It was all there. PRI visitors saw a few dozen behemoth two-, three- and four-car tow vessels-along with everything that has anything to do with towing, winching, pulling and pushing a race car around. We also saw a number of electronic devices, mostly headsets and walkie-talkies, that we don't need, but that would make great additions for the next time we have a track day.

Go to PRI, if you can. It might seem like a V-8-lover's paradise at first, but take a closer look and you'll find more than enough race gear and supplies that apply to any form of motorsports. You'll be glad you did, even if you aren't an old man. Yet.

Performance Racing Industry