PRI and SEMA Collaboration: The Upside is Real
It has been four years since SEMA made the commitment to acquire, preserve and support the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show and magazine. At the time, SEMA leadership recognized an opportunity to build a strong relationship with the racing and performance segment—a group that was not much represented within the SEMA membership. Some questioned how the PRI world could benefit from what SEMA had to offer; others doubted that the two organizations could coexist without compromising one identity or the other.
I’m pleased to report that the two organizations have integrated in productive ways in the ensuing years, and both are benefitting. PRI has been able to tap into SEMA resources on numerous fronts and has helped SEMA evolve at the same time by contributing cultural and operational best practices. Perhaps most important, those collaborations came about in ways that did not diminish the established cultures of either the Specialty Equipment Market Association or Performance Racing Industry Inc.
As of the time of this writing, the PRI Show—now back in Indianapolis—was one week away from opening, with a 16% increase in overall registration and an 8% uptick in buyer registration. These numbers suggest positive momentum toward a shared goal: a PRI Show that helps the racing and performance segment succeed and prosper.
Looking back, an early role for SEMA was to address PRI infrastructure needs, replacing aging equipment and business technology assets. Since then, there have been a number of collaborations between SEMA departments and the PRI team in a number of operational areas.
And now, years later, we see other productive SEMA/PRI collaborations that have benefitted the racing world in broader, more strategic ways.
For example, SEMA’s market research department worked with PRI leadership to generate meaningful data for the racing industry. Available outside research had often focused on aspects that would drive revenue for the administrative side of motorsports in areas such as number of spectators, sponsorship dollars or economic impact. But these reports did little to help parts manufacturers plan their businesses, and the data was often stale. A new report, which was released in December, details the number of active race cars and outlines participation in different race types and classes. This kind of study will allow companies developing racing parts to create product plans and sales strategies.
Collaboration with the SEMA legislative affairs office in Washington, D.C., is another way both organizations have benefitted from SEMA/PRI integration. Notably, the two organizations have worked together to support the RPM Act—legislation that will protect the right to convert a vehicle into a dedicated race car. The SEMA D.C. team was able to activate the racing community in part through PRI communications channels and to encourage stakeholders to contact their legislators about how the Clean Air Act is applied. At the 2016 PRI Show, the SEMA legislative affairs team was out in force in Indianapolis to better inform and hear from the racing community, helping build an understanding about how we can work together to assure the future of racing.
Whenever two organizations that competed in the past merge, there is going to be concern about the outcome. But SEMA and PRI have had enough years together at this point to demonstrate that, in this case, the upside is real and the future is promising.