The 20th annual PRI Trade Show, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlandon (FL), featured more than 1400 exhibitors and 4200 booths, with more than 42,000 attendees for the industry-only event. The show’s opening day featured the Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic event, which brought nearly 3000 non-karting spectators to the forefront of the sport on Thursday night.
The 20th annual PRI Trade Show, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlandon (FL), featured more than 1400 exhibitors and 4200 booths, with more than 42,000 attendees for the industry-only event.
Karting was a major focus during this year’s Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show. The show’s opening day featured the Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic event, which brought nearly 3000 non-karting spectators to the forefront of the sport on Thursday night.
Some of the top players in the karting industry were on hand in Florida to promote their products, as well as the sport of karting in general. The ‘big three’ were well-represented with SSC East displaying the CRG line, MRP Motorsport marketing their Birel products, and Tony Kart Florida promoting the Tony Kart chassis. SSC East also had the Zanardi chassis, Rotax engines and the hand-drive wheel for paraplegic drivers. MRP displayed their newest kart line, the ‘My First Kart’ package that is focused at beginners with no karting experience. They will be releasing more information about the new line in the near future. Along with the different Tony Kart frames and Vortex engines, the Tonykart Florida crew also had one of the limited edition (200 units) Ayrton Senna chassis on display. New products were displayed at the Russell Karting, Champion Racing, Grand Products, and First Kart booths. Russell Karting, Iame engines North American importer, had the KF engine on display, as did Champion Racing, who also had the ’08 models of the Intrepid line. Grand Products promoted the Top Kart chassis, Bridgestone tires, MIR safety gear, and Comer engines, including their new KF engine. First Kart also had their 2008 models with a slick new graphics kit on their new-style bodywork. Screaming Talent, PDB Gillard importer, had a couple of karts along with the new look suits for the 2008 season. Easykart America was also on hand, promoting their simple and affordable Easykart packages for those looking to get into the sport.
The Snap-On Stars of Karting event, held in the Convention Center parking lot, drew an impressive list of drivers, including NASCAR's Jamie McMurray, A.J. Allmendinger and John Andretti; IRL's Marco Andretti and Buddy Rice; the ALMS' Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi; Champ Car's Nelson Philippe, Katherine Legge and Jan Heylen, and even MotoGP's Eddie Lawson. Also, Former Formula One driver Scott Speed, and former NASCAR driver (and karting champ) Lake Speed. But the event also saw the participation of the best of American karters, with Carlton, Miller, Wiegand, Langlois, Dueck and Jurca among others to contest the victory.
To ensure a prime list of drivers for the final, the drivers were divided in Masters division and Karters division. The Karters division saw Carlton take the win, as Miller held off Jaskol for second. Dueck closed the gap on Jurca but ran out of laps, as Jurca rounded out the podium while Newgarden won the sixth and final transfer spot to the main event.
In the Masters division Speed led the field in the first few laps. A slight error spun him around and sent him to the back. Philippe inherited the lead ahead of Valiante to the checkered flag, but was later penalized 10 positions for fuel violation. That moved Valiante to start the main event from pole, with Rice on the outside of row one. Bryan Herta was fast and held off AJ Allmendinger for third with Lawson rounding out the top five.
After two failed attempts, the main event got started with Valiante getting the jump on Rice, as did Herta who moved to second in the opening lap. Rice regained the second spot back as the top two put some distance on the battle for third. Carlton worked himself to fourth and after getting by Allmendinger, he set his sites on Rice in second. With just a few laps to go, Carlton made the pass stick, grabbing second. Valiante would cruise to the victory with fireworks and the crowd cheering as he took the checkered flag. Carlton’s crowd pleasing second capped an unbelievable drive from 17th. Rice would be on the podium again, this time in third Allmendinger and Dueck sliding by McMurray - both recording the fastest lap of the race - for fifth.