IMIS 2012 Wrap-Up

Indianapolis, IN – The numbers have grown over the past four years; numbers that have made the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) one of the largest shows of its kind in the world.

Catering mainly to the hardcore racer, the show has grown to include displays by major suppliers, manufacturers and sanctioning bodies as well as a post-season venue for major industry announcements and awards banquets.

Now covering over 385,000 sq. ft. of display space and hosting 30,000 attendees, the event has convinced more than 530 companies to display their wares to the motorsports world.

But things will change in 2013 as the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) purchased IMIS back in November and the Indy show will be consolidated with SEMA’s Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in 2013. The combined shows will convene in Indianapolis on December 12-14, 2013, occupying the entire Indiana Convention Center. PRI returns to the Hoosier site after several years in Orlando, FL.

“The racing industry needed to have just one motorsports trade show in the U.S. I’m proud to say we’ve accomplished that,” said Scooter Brothers, SEMA chairman of the Board of Directors. “To have a single home for the racing trade show is clearly the best thing for the industry, and working with Chris Paulsen (co-founder of IMIS), we got it done.”

IMIS Notes and Quotes:

• Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced at IMIS, that British driver Jack Hawksworth has signed to pilot a Firestone Indy Lights entry for the team that also fields entries in the IZOD Indy Car Series. Hawksworth, the 2012 Star Mazda series’ champion, tested the SSM car at Sebring in November. SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights history with 53 race wins and six championships. They have also qualified 14 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2001; winning the 500 pole in 2011.

• ARCA President Ron Draeger noted to Racing Nation that the upcoming ARCA event at Road America on June 22 has been a point of discussion for a few years. “George Bruggenthies (RA president) and I have talked for a number of years about how we’d like to be there and George wanted a way to get us there. The way the schedule rolled out for 2013 the opportunity was there with the Nationwide event, Draeger said. “With Menards being our presenting sponsor, and being in their home region (Eau Claire, WI), we feel like we have to pay attention to that, too.” ARCA will also race nearby in Madison, WI and Elko, MN.

Draeger also said that racing on a NASCAR Nationwide weekend should present no problems: “We have a good, long-standing history with them that dates back to the inception our company in 1953. We’re also going to run 10 weekends in conjunction with NASCAR in 2013 and we feel like we understand how we best fit in with them. The conversation about RA was an easy one to have and we know what to expect from one another.”

ARCA has raced on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park for the past two years, and their car owners have hoped for another road course race to make it easier to build a car for two such events rather than one. “Our racers have gotten better at road course racing and we’ve gotten better at administrating them. Our tire partner Hoosier has also developed a wet weather tire. Our owners and teams have told us to get at least two road course events so that they can invest in the technology and feel good about it. Now they can have a true road racing vehicle rather than just changing over an oval track car.”

The ARCA event will take the green flag at Road America on Saturday, June 22 at 11:00AM, followed by the Nationwide race at 2:00PM.

• Former Indianapolis 500 and Formula 1 driver Derek Daly is now a sports anchor at WISH-TV in Indianapolis. But when I talked to the Irishman at the IMIS show, his part time job these days seems to revolve around the burgeoning racing career of his son Conor. “Conor is trying to create as many opportunities as possible for himself. He’s always said that if he spent 2-3 years in Europe, he’d become a better driver. But Europe brings an inherent instability for an American driver because when they go over there they have so little (financial) support.”
Many writers have labeled Conor as the best hope for an American in Formula One, but the senior Daly left the door open for another possibility: “The upcoming Foyt test is perfect for him,” he said of Conor’s upcoming test for the four-time 500 winner’s team. “Conor has such a passion for the Indianapolis 500. He’s only missed one 500 in his lifetime and that was because he happened to be racing in Monaco. The Foyt opportunity is perfect for him to see an Indy Car and for Indy Car to see him and for them to grow a relationship to possibly benefit each other. Quite honestly we don’t know where that may lead, but at least he’s being considered. He will definitely race in the Indianapolis 500 someday.”

And, Derek, will he ever consider a NASCAR try? “Conor is an open wheel driver. That is his passion and it runs through his veins. It would be highly unlikely for him to ever do anything other than open wheel.”

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