PRI 2015: Back to Basics, but Less Green


The last time I went to the Performance Racing Industry show as a journalist was back in 2013, and the emphasis on “green” racing and performance products was definitely there. As was evident at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, however, the return of cheap gas and relatively easy have pushed most of the green tech back, and PRI 2015 was more focused on what is- for better or worse- the traditional face of American motorsports: drag racing and oval tracks.

For many, the star of the show was the new, Ecoboost-powered Ford GT race car (shown, above). With gobs of LeMans-running horsepower on tap from its twin-turbocharged V6 engine, the Ford GT hopes to take on the hybrid Porsches and Diesel Audis with a smart, fast, and fuel-efficient performance package.


The Ford GT wasn’t the only endurance racing competitor on display, however. The Whelen Corvette Daytona Prototype was also on display (above), along with a number of Chevy-powered, ethanol-fueled IndyCars- most notably Ed Carpenter‘s Fuzzy’s Vodka-sponsored CFH race car at the Hurco machine display. Full disclosure: I actually got to meet Ed, but I just told him I was big fan, blushed like a schoolgirl, then ran away.

That big Hurco machine that the CFH racing team was there to help promote? It didn’t need them- it was one of the most compelling displays of cool machining I’ve ever seen. It wouldn’t really work for my purposes, but if you’re wet-sleeving an engine, this is the thing you want.


Another display that proved to be a fan favorite included a sight that should be familiar to Gas 2 and Insteading readers, by now- Motopeds!


Shown in both “extreme survival” and the new “cruiser” trims, these Honda-powered home-built motorcycles are always popular when they appear in posts– and are definitely the most fun you can have while pedaling.

Digging a little deeper into the displays at PRI 2015, we found one of the most expensive single components you could probably find at the show: a full set of Formula 1 carbon clutches and brakes from AP Racing. These are the brakes that glow red-hot, surviving lap after lap of brutal torture at every race. Take a good look, because these are super-slick pieces.


After wandering through rows and rows of oval and drag racing hardware, however, I was starting to get a bit bored of PRI 2015. It was just about then that I ran into my friends Ryan Jeffries (a PRI judge and fellow scooter racer) and Jay Berry, who heads up Ignite performance racing fuels. That’s the same Ignite that provides ethanol to a number of oval racers and drag racers- myself, included!- and who spoke to me about Ignite’s plans to expand into more specialty applications as well (more on that, later). I even found the Eco Power oil guys.


So, at the end of the long, long day, there was some good green stuff to be found- you just had to go looking for it. And, as bad as that sounds, there could be a silver lining here. Green isn’t something new and exciting, anymore- it’s just part of racing now. Biofuels, pint-sized turbo engines, and hybrid battery packs have already turned the tide. There is a replacement for displacement. All of that.


What do you guys think? Have biofuels and turbos and hybrid systems become so mainstream that they don’t deserve special merit these days, or is PRI just pushing them back into the shadows until gasoline prices creep back over the $3/gallon mark? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.


Original content from Gas 2.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.