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Two Incredible RX-7s, a New NASCAR, and One Wild SR20 Top the PRI Show
BY Kyle Crawford //
January 11, 2022
@mrkylecrawford
  • 1,100 exhibiting companies throughout 3,300 booths make up the Indiana Convention Center floor plan.
  • The Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show is regarded as a more technical-centric automotive convention.
  • A three-day event showcasing the newest performance technology, including a record-breaking SR20 engine, 4-rotor RX-7, a unique Taurus SHO, and the new NASCAR.

An adage in life says, “that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream”. It means numerous different things. For one, that there’s never just one way to enjoy something. Two, that different people like different things. Three, that ice cream is delicious! Okay, I added that last part, but this article’s subject confirms the first two notions. There are essentially two troops that make up the automotive aftermarket industry: appearance and performance. While there is undoubtedly crossover, most companies and consumers fit into one of these core groups more than the other, and each has a massive annual convention. For those who photoshop their car with different wheels or admire the newest Japanese widebody kit, the splendor of the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, is their mainstay. However, for the half who wait anxiously all winter for racing season to start, the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Show, held each year in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the one.

With in-person access to each, it’s hard for me to draw a line in the sand and pick which one is my favorite. SEMA might have the glitz and glamor of Sin City, but the PRI show in the cold, gritty motorsport home of the Indy 500 offers a racing fan the ultimate insider information they can’t find anywhere else.

This past PRI was interesting as its attendance figures — guests or exhibitors — didn’t seem to be affected by missing a year in 2020 combined with the worldwide pandemic we’re navigating. The convention halls were packed wall-to-wall with everything the Performance Racing Industry offered, so we thought it best to take some time and elaborate on a few of our favorites.

FASTEST N/A SR20 ON THE PLANET

Owner: JMR Garage
Booth: Kelford Cams
Fresh from its 9.1-second record-setting pass at this year’s World Cup Finals event, JMR Garage displayed its fastest naturally aspirated SR20 engine in the Kelford Cams booth, alongside its superb all-motor Sentra itself. Walking the aisles of PRI, it’s not uncommon to see a drag car garnering attention for a brand. What’s not expected is for sport compact drag racers to be the ones representing, let alone to see a Nissan Sentra. I admittedly wasn’t familiar with JMR Garage’s Sentra, and from far away, I found myself muttering, “Ooh, that looks like a nice EG coupe up there!” Except, of course, as I stepped closer, I noticed the valve cover looked strange for a Honda, and the body lines were all out of proportion. After a lengthy examination and some trips to YouTube, I have tons of respect for this beautiful build and what it has achieved.

WILD 4-ROTOR N/A FD3S RX-7

Owner: Defined Autoworks
Booth: NASA
I mean, where can I even begin with this car? First of all, it’s gorgeous. Well done, Defined Autoworks! The unique widened body hosts an attractive livery, carbon fiber accents, and a professionally-designed carbon fiber front splitter system. Add to that, the magnesium centerlock JGTC-spec Volk Racing TE37 motorsports wheels, and the exterior is a real treat. Moving onto the engine bay, inside sits an incredible morsel of automotive heaven, a four-rotor Wankel engine. The custom-fabricated trimmings surrounding this sensation are nothing short of spectacular, as well. The interior is all business, mainly because this car actually gets driven and hard! That’s right, the little numbers on the body and those sticky Hoosiers are actually for something, hence its presence at the NASA booth. Oh, and I almost forgot my favorite part: the sound. Ugh, the sounds this car produced when leaving the convention center were incredible! I must not be the only one who thinks so, either. The Forza Motorsports video game series apparently used this car to sub-in when they recorded the glorious engine noises for the Mazda 787B racecar.

THE BLUE TURD: 1,000+HP FORD TAURUS SHO

Owner: Zach Wright
Booth: Vibrant Performance
This SHO is not your mom’s old Taurus, or maybe it was at one time? We can’t be sure, but we do know that this has to be the most badass Taurus on the planet. In its previous state, before going under the knife for the PRI show, it generated around 1,000hp. It has since been outfitted with this new center-mount turbocharger, billet engine block, newly-fabricated Vibrant Performance elements, and offerings from AEM Performance Electronics and Turbosmart in the engine bay. It boogies, too. In its old spec, it successfully eclipsed the 8-second elapsed-time barrier. Now looking to churn out 400-600 more horsepower this time around, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Blue Turd in the future. Whatever it may be, it’s going to be fast!

NEXT-GEN NASCAR

Booths: Öhlins USA, DEI, BBS Wheels
It might be a complete departure from the street-to-track relationship upheld by the other vehicles on this list, but there’s a reason. You see, if you’re in the know, NASCAR is one of the highest regulated racing series in the world. All elements of these heavy, borderline-outdated stock cars are scrutinized to exacting standards. While some adjustment is generally allowed or optional stiffnesses for suspension parts, the rest of the cars are strictly regimented. So why does that matter? Because it’s in these incremental adjustments that each team finds the edge over one another, and boy does it get highly competitive. Certain teams create dynasties of championships by precisely calculating the winning formula over several years. However, for 2022, all of that changes. NASCAR rule changes are all-new, and with new rulebooks come new cars. For this, NASCAR opened the flood gates to all interested parts manufacturers to bid for a chance to develop the latest regulated parts for the new series’ car. Companies we’re all familiar with, including DEI, Inc., BBS Wheels, Öhlins suspension, and even Hyperco springs, won the bids to create their portion of the Next-Gen NASCAR. All of this is important because the experience gained from working at one of the highest levels in professional motorsports will profoundly affect the aftermarket products we all love — for the better.

Isn’t NASCAR still NASCAR? Well, yes and no. The Next-Gen chassis was developed with Dallara, a renowned Italian chassis specialist that manufactures the current crop of IndyCars. The new car will now feature a sequential transmission, composite/carbon fiber bodywork, and centerlock(!) BBS motorsport wheels. It’s a big step forward from the metal-bodied, steel-wheel-having, H-pattern-shifting stock cars of yore, and I can’t wait to see the new evolution hit the track!

MONSTER LS-SWAPPED TURBO RX-7

Owner: William Tetro
Booth: Frankenstein Engine Dynamics
With a chassis littered in professional cage work, a jumbo turbocharger encroaching on the front bumper, and an LS-based engine, there is no question this RX-7 is built for duty. Then, there’s the immaculate bodywork, glistening Montego Blue paint, the beautifully ceramic-coated tubing in the engine bay, and the assortment of Aeromotive and Turbosmart goodies that push it over the edge. This FD was at home in the performance-based PRI event but would fit right at home in the more appearance-centric SEMA, as well. It was a favorite of mine without question.


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