The Race & Performance Expo, celebrating its sixth year in 2013, returned over the weekend to the sprawling Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois. Just a short drive from downtown Chicago, this year offered two popular new additions to the mix for show attendees, along with a new three-day schedule that provided snow-logged midwest gearheads with even more opportunity to learn about hot new products, sit in on seminars, talk with the experts, and mingle with their racing family.
As Expo organizer Jim Bingham explains, the Race & Performance Expo is as much about growing the industry as it is giving the consumer and the manufacturer the opportunity to meet in one place.
“We’re trying to influence the entire aftermarket and bring in new customers, whether they buy from me or from someone else,” said Bingham. “We want to grow the market. I’ve been in this industry for 44 years, and I’m concerned about it, so I’m trying to make a difference. If we can get someone in here that’s maybe never built a car, we can gain a new customer for this industry.”
We want to grow the market. I’ve been in this industry for 44 years, and I’m concerned about it, so I’m trying to make a difference. -Jim Bingham
The sixth annual Race & Performance Expo saw the addition of both the Offroad & Performance Truck Expo and the Car Builder’s Showcase, adding even more flavor to this show that targets the drag racing, circle track racing, high performance street enthusiast, and engine builders with trucks and some of the baddest hot rods from some of the top custom car builders in the nation. As well, due to overwhelming interest in the Race & Performance Expo in prior years that has filled the walkways of the show to virtual capacity, the traditional two-day schedule was expanded to three, as exhibitors opened the doors to the crowd on Friday evening.
As always, the Race & Performance Expo featured some of the top manufacturers in the industry showing off their products, along with the popular Circle Track Expo and the entertaining Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge. Join us as we take you for a tour of the 2013 Race & Performance Expo!
The Race & Performance Expo
The heart and soul of the Race & Performance Expo is the Expo itself, held in the Pheasant Run Resort’s 38,000 square foot Mega Center, where more than 130 exhibitors set up their booths. Among the exhibitors were some of the top high performance names in the business, including Comp Cams, Edlebrock, Aeromotive, Holley, Weld Racing, and many more, who were on hand to show off their products and speak face-to-face with their customers at a show that, unlike the larger industry trade shows, allows and promotes access to the end user of the products.
Like the Circle Track Expo, the Race & Performance Expo exhibitor list also features a number of race tracks and racing organizations in the midwest, from the NHRA’s North Central division to the Midwest Super Comp Series, Route 66 Raceway, the Cordova Dragway Park, Great Lakes Dragaway, and others.
“This is a great regional show for the end user to attend, where you get to see all of the big manufacturers right here in St. Charles, Ill.,” said QA1′s Dave Goldie. “This is where the customer wants to come to talk to the manufacturer. This is one place where you can have a face-to-face conversation with the manufacturer, because typically it’s through a distributor or a dealer, but people really want to talk to the individuals that make the products.
Another popular part of the Race & Performance Expo each year are the seminars hosted by many of the most knowledgeable names in the high performance industry. The seminars, covering a wide range of topics, are held in conference rooms above the Mega Center show floor and are open to all paid attendees of the Expo throughout the weekend. The 40 minutes seminars allow companies to introduce new products, answer questions, and teach attendees about engine building and other racing technologies in a classroom environment. This year, the seminars included “Q&A on Holley’s EFI Systems” with Rick Anderson, “Shock and Suspension Tuning For Your Race Or Street Car” with QA1′s Dave Goldie, “Advanced Fuel System Dynamics” with Aeromotive’s Jared Cox, “Progression of Piston Technology” with Mahle’s John Goodwin, and “Secrets of a Clutch” with Will Baty of Centerforce.
“These seminars are great for informing people of new products they may have not heard about and be able to show them and walk them through the new feature sets,” said Auto Meter’s Justin Devlin. “By doing this, it brings a lot of attention to new products.”
The Circle Track Expo
Located across the street at the DuPage Expo Center, the Circle Track Expo features all things circle track, from pavement stock cars to dirt sprint cars, late models, modifieds, karting, and everything in between that turns left.
The Circle Track Expo featured 54 different exhibitors, including manufacturers and racing series and tracks. The list of exhibitors included Allstar Performance, QuarterMaster, Hinchman Racewear, the ARCA Midwest Tour, the Badger Midget Series, Illiana Motor Speedway, and LaSalle Speedway.
Whether you were looking for a place to race, an organization to get your child involved in the sport, purchase new safety gear, or look at some new components for your circle track car, the Circle Track Expo had a little bit of it all.
The Offroad & Performance Truck Expo
This year, the organizers of the Race & Performance Expo extended an invite to manufacturers in the truck and offroad industry, and several new exhibitors came to be a part of the show at the Mega Center as they enthusiastically showed would-be customers, many of whom own at least one truck for pulling their race cars, their products. Some of the hot items included some very unique bed covers and form-fit floor mats, and there were even a couple of tricked-out trucks on hand.
From trucks designed to haul with authority to those for playing in the mud, the truck market is a fast-growing segment of the industry, and one that’s no doubt a great addition to this likewise fast-growing performance trade show.
Car Builder’s Showcase
For the first time, the Race & Performance Expo spilled out of the halls of the Mega Center and DuPage Expo Center to the Pheasant Run Resort’s beautifully-decored St. Charles Ballroom, where the Car Builder’s Showcase was put on display. From pure show cars to those featured by some of the most well known custom car builders in the industry, the Car Builder’s Showcase offered up more than 20 gorgeous cars, from street rods to custom muscle cars, Pro Touring ringers, sports cars, and even some rolling chassis that gave customers a glimpse of the undercarriage of these works of art.
Hot Rodders Of Tomorrow
The Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge has become a popular program within the high performance automative industry that brings together car-loving high school students from schools across the nation to compete for college scholarships, and it’s a program that was born out of the Race & Performance Expo as an idea hatched between Bingham and his good friend and industry legend Vic Edelbrock to get today’s youth involved in the automotive hobby and to make a career of their passion.Parts Pro, a subsidiary of the AAM Group, has been involved as a team sponsor and supporter of the Hot Rodders since the very beginning, and company President Tim Odom shared with us his enthusiasm for being involved in the development of youth and the future of this industry.
“We like to get involved in anything that helps to bring young people into our sport, and it’s really exciting to see that Jim has developed this program that has grown to be national in scope and really represents the hopes and the dreams of the high performance market to get youth involved in motorsports and to encourage schools to keep programs like this. That’s the idea behind this program – to give kids a reason to want to stay in automotive programs in their schools, and the end result is that they can earn scholarships that takes them on to college. A lot of these kids have made a career out of motorsports. It’s just a great program.”
The Race & Performance Expo is the first of seven qualifying events in 2013 for teams to earn their way into the National Championship to be held at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis in December, and this year’s Expo featured 24 teams in all, with 12 different teams each getting two shots at producing the quickest time to advance on to Indianapolis. The goal of competing in the Engine Challenge is to disassemble and reassemble identically prepared small block Chevy engines in the shortest amount of time possible, with four team members working around the engine and one behind the parts table manning the components and providing the necessary tools.
“This program is just so contagious. Everywhere we take it, it’s contagious,” said Bingham. “The first year we had the event, there were five high school teams. The next there were 32. Last year we had something like 112 teams, and we expect to have over 150 across the country this year. Kids sign up for their school’s automotive programs just to get into the Hot Rodders.”
Continued Bingham: “when these kids build an engine, they find out its a “we” world and not an “I” world. We compare it to basketball, where one player cannot carry the team, but one player could destroy the team. These five players, they’ve got to love each other and back each other up. It’s great camaraderie.”
Hot Rodders Of Tomorrow Results
Team Parts Pro from the Thomas County Central High School in Georgia, captured the first round of the Hot Rodders Engine Challenge with a time of 23 minutes, 28 seconds, which was a little over three minutes quicker than runner-up Team Motive Gear Joliet Central High School’s team No. 1 at 26 minutes, 42 seconds. Thomas County’s second squad, Team Flowmaster, finished third with a time of 26 minutes, 46 seconds. The complete results are shown in the image at right.
Organizers Bingham and Tom Stockenburg, who along with more than 65 employees and volunteers work to make the Race & Performance Expo a reality each year, have already promised an even bigger and better show for next year, but rest assured that the big industry players, the informative seminars, the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow, and all of the other great elements of the Expo will be back next February.
“It takes a year of preparation to put this show together, and we’ve already started on our plans for 2014. We’ve got some great changes in store for next year.”
As soon as you get your 2014 calendars, be sure to mark this one down.