Here we go again. Different city; different show; completely different ambiance.
Today was Opening Day of the PRI Trade Show in Orlando, FL. Compared to SEMA in Las Vegas, the lights are dimmer, the colors are more subdued and there is one major “thing” missing… trade show girls, which apparently are not permitted, although a few have snuck in.
We have had our share of passersby. So far we have seen Tomas Scheckter, Buddy Rice, Duncan Dayton, and Scott Goodyear; and Dan Wheldon was here in the Honda Racing/HPD booth signing autographs. Some stopped by to say “Hi” and some checked out our new line of performance parts. Tomas and Buddy were here to compete in the CKI All-Star Karting Classic on Thursday night. The go-karts were still running at 9:30 p.m., so it sounded like they had fun!
One other major, very noticeable difference between SEMA and PRI is the lack of giveaway suitcases rolling around the Orange County (FL) Convention Center. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely giveaways, but it is not as much of a sport here as it was at SEMA. Speaking of giveaways, HPD has added a new giveaway to its lineup this time around. We (and when I say ‘we’, I mean HPD’s Machine Shop) manufactured replica IRL engine spark plugs out of aluminum for use as keychains. Coming from someone who is not into trinkets or chotchkies, they are definitely cool. One show attendee said that they were the coolest giveaways that he has seen in three years. They are definitely a hit.
Something memorable from today concerned a very spirited debate that took place in our booth, and ‘spirited’ is saying it nicely. For reasons of propriety, I must refrain from quoting the exact conversation, but it was very interesting. The debate began between two gentlemen who were on opposite sides of the Formula F/Fit engine debate. One was a fierce defender of Honda’s new program and the other was concerned over the heritage of what was formerly known as the Formula Ford series (he was also fueled by the many rumors circulating over the Internet). At one point, we HPD associates thought we might have to stand back because fists would begin flying, but I am happy to announce that the disagreement was resolved and both combatants went on their merry, trade show way. There is never a dull moment...
As the doors of the convention center opened this morning, something very interesting occurred. There were display rows on the convention floor that were gridlocked, and others that didn’t have a person in them. Soon, it was discovered that show attendees take a very clear and apparent path. A strategic attack, one might say, in their route through PRI. Maybe it is this the way at all trade shows, but seeing as this is only HPD’s second appearance and we were located in a far corner at the first, this discovery was new to us. This time around, our booth is located in the second row, about 10 or so booths deep (#5525 for those of you attending), so we have a great view of this herd of people.
As 6 p.m. rolled around, the crowds VERY slowly diminished. Unlike at SEMA, PRI does not clear out immediately at the end of each show day. Normally, this would be perfectly fine with us. We are happy to sit and chat with anyone who stops by. However, on this particular night there was a free Happy Hour going on in the lobby of the convention center. I am sorry, but after a long day standing in the booth, free appetizers are very appealing. So, free appetizers it was.
Friday would be another full day of giveaways, crowds and crazy adventures… or so we hoped! Until then…