Weds., 12/10/08, Alvin, Devin and myself left for the PRI Show early in the morning expecting to have a short 5 hour plane trip to Orlando. We arrived after traveling for 14 hours. The weather caused delays all along the east coast. This was the same weather cell that produced 3-5 inches of SNOW in the Baton Rouge area starting early Thursday morning and the ice storms in the northeast.
Thursday morning, we arrived at the Orlando Convention Center and I promptly got in line to get my Media Camera Credentials.
This place is awesome! Many times “Awesome” gets overused, but there are not many words that can describe the size of this show. The size of the Orlando Convention Center complex (1 million Sq. Ft.), the amount of displays (1400 Vendors), the cost that the vendors have gone too to make their displays the best that they can. If I had to give an award for the best display, it would go to SRP (Scorpion Racing Products), along with several of the companies that displayed full working CNC machines in Machinery Row. I did not have official attendance numbers, but I am told it was well over 45,000 people that attended.
I walked, took photos and collected information from so many vendors, I had to stop taking every book and I had to become very selective. The smart people that had attended before had small suitcases on wheels that they were collecting their booklets in. There must have been at least 20 – 25 rows of vendors lining each side of an aisle. There were many trailer vendors, RV vendors and hauler vendors. Outside there were full working dyno test stations.
There were scheduled news conferences and presentations in a special press/media area. Each day had several scheduled seminars. I had planned to attend several of them, but did not make any. Maybe next year.
After the first day I had only covered about 5 rows. I had too many books, my feet were hurting and I was just overwhelmed with the enormity of the show. Alvin, who has attended the past two years, was in heaven. Talking to many of the great people that he has talked to on the phone, including Joe Mondello. Joe invited Alvin and his crew to dinner after the show on Friday night. We ate at a place called Tu – Tu’s Tango. It was unique. We enjoyed the dinner and the conversation with the total of 12 people that were invited.
Wednesday night we had dinner at The Butcher Block, a steakhouse with excellent steaks. We were joined by my sister, Bea Bea Smith, from Ft. Pierce, FL.
Friday I completed all the remaining rows of vendors and purchased a few items that I thought were unique products or that I always wanted but did not know where that product was available. Some of the vendors were allowed to sell at the show, while others were only allowed to take orders. Some took my card, or swiped my credentials and said they would call me this coming week.
While Alvin concentrated on cylinder head porting and Ford racing engines, I was looking at race car graphics, computer engine control, computer simulation software, racing suits and shirts, transmission and converter technology and of course, all the information that I could gather on carburetors. I found three carburetor manufacturers that I did not know existed. All of them use some of the Holley design and most of them use the Holley gaskets and needle & seats. All of them have their own body and venturi configuration. All of them claim to be better than Holley. I own a Holley HP 1150 of the new modular billit design. I would sure like to run each of these new designs on my 555 BBC to see what they can do. Since I have owned three Barry Grant carbs, I spent a lot of time at their display talking to the salesmen and technical experts. I heard a lot of talk about “Wet Flow Benches”, for carbs and for heads.
I am already preparing to go back next year. Barbara did not attend this year, but she wants to go next year. I know we will drive over and stay in our Time Share in Daytona Beach (60 miles). This will allow us to bring back much more equipment and information. Being restricted on a plane, with the tight security, was a definite draw-back.
I did not attend the Sat. session, but I traveled over to my home town of Daytona Beach and did some visiting, which was very relaxing, and I had a very good time.
Our trip home was very uneventful, and we got back to Baton Rouge in just under 5 1/2 hours.