Craig Murto: Tradeshow season, bucket lists

The Performance Racing Industry tradeshow in Indianapolis each December is the largest racing trade show in the world. But racers and fans alike still have regional and local opportunities to explore the business of racing before the 2015 season kicks into high gear.

The 29th Annual Piedmont Racing Expo comes to the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 16-17.

Event promoter and race parts auctioneer Phillip Walker said, “I know it sounds like a broken record, but each year gets better than the last, and this may be the best Expo in the 29-year history of the event. We have the greatest lineup of racing vendors we’ve ever had, plus we’ve got all the major short-track speedways and regional racing touring series in the region represented.”

The Expo exhibitor lineup reads like a Who’s Who of short track racing companies in the region. Stacy Puryear Racing Parts, Racing Electronics, SafeQuip, DRP Performance, Gann Race Cars & Parts, Howell Racing Products, HGR Trailers, RBR Fabrication, Performance Tees, Graphics Unlimited, Renegade Race Fuels are only some of the vendors on hand for the event.

In addition, many North Carolina speedways and regional racing series will be present to greet race teams with schedules and rules for the 2015 season. Tracks and series to be represented include County Line Speedway, Orange County Speedway, Wake County Speedway, KOMA Modified Series, Ace Speedway, CARS Tour, Southern National Motorsports Park, Southeast Limited Late Models, Southern Ground Pounders, and more.

Holley Carbs, Butlerbuilt Racing Seats, and RacersReunion.com will sponsor the Fifth Annual Raleigh Fairgrounds Racers Reunion, held in conjunction with the Racing Expo. Drivers who raced at the half-mile dirt oval on the fairgrounds property from the 1950s through the ’70s will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 17 for an autograph and photo session. Vintage Cars will be on display.

The mainstay of the Racing Expo — the racer’s auction — will take place on Friday and Saturday as well. This is the event that should attract racers from our region. Friday’s auction will feature up to 600 lots starting at noon. Saturday’s auction will have over 600 lots, as well as rolling stock and special items, with selling starting at 9 a.m.

For more information visit www.piedmontracingexpo.com. Admission is $10 daily, ages 12-15 $5 daily, with no charge for children under 12. Women are free of charge. The Racing Expo Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Piedmont Racing Expo is a bucket list item I may get crossed off this year, just as the Snowball Derby recently found its way onto the “done” list.

There are plenty of races that should be on your bucket list. The Dream for dirt late Models at Eldora, Ohio, for example. Other “must-see” races are the 200-mile dirt Modified race at Syracuse or the Knoxville Nationals for Sprint Cars.

Races on my bucket list include the Bathurst 1,000, the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race, and the Isle of Man TT for motorcycles. But a race that should be on everybody’s bucket list is the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., an indoor event in the River Spirit Expo Center.

The entry count for the 29th annual race climbed over the 300 mark for the first time to 316 entries, all trying to get in the 24-car field. Racers have been asked to find travel companions and ‘pit with a friend” to save space.

Former winners of the race include Rich Vogler, Sammy Swindell, Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart, Tim McCreadie and defending race winner Bryan Clauson.

General admission seating is still available along the backstretch for the Jan. 12-17 event, and can be accessed with the purchase of a pit pass. Additional information can be found online at www.chilibowl.com. For more updates follow the Chili Bowl on Facebook and on Twitter.

For the second year, the Chili Bowl will be show on-line on www.racinboys.com. The on-line pay-per-view experience will run through Saturday’s qualifiers. At time of opening ceremonies on Saturday, Racinboys coverage will cease as final features will be shown live on MAVTV, something Comcast in our region doesn’t provide. For a complete listing of channels, and to request MAVTV (please do) visit www.mavtv.com.

Not only is the Chili Bowl a bucket list item, there’s also a tradeshow associated with the event as the racing industry hopes to kick into high gear in 2015.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.