The third annual International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) came to an end at 4 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Dec. 10. And, while packing up to head home, exhibitors, attendees and show officials offered rave reviews for the hardcore racing trade show.
“There was a point on Friday when I looked at my watch and it was 10 a.m., and the next time I looked at my watch it was 4:30 p.m.,” said John Harper of Concord, N.C.-based Brown & Miller Racing Solutions. “No breaks for lunch, bathroom or anything. It was easily the busiest day I’ve had at a trade show in years. We were very impressed with the show this year. There were a lot of visitors through our booth all three days. Good, quality people from all over the country. We saw people who are really into racing who we can develop relationships with.”
IMIS is the United States’ premier hardcore racing trade show, conducted each year at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis and owned by Chris Paulsen, owner of C&R Racing, Jeff Stoops, president of Stoops Freightliner, and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. From car builders to tire manufacturers to parts suppliers, every aspect of motorsports is represented at IMIS, which has a lifetime contract with the City of Indianapolis and reserved show dates through 2015. Attendees come from all levels of the sport. From NASCAR team owners to weekend road racers, IMIS attracts motorsports professionals from around the globe.
“We could not have been happier with this year’s show,” Paulsen said. “When we started in 2009, we had 109,000 square feet of booth space and this year we had 283,000 square feet. That’s tremendous growth, but we’ve stayed true to our belief that this show is for hardcore racing only. Friday was probably the best day in the history of the show and all three days the aisles were packed with buyers who wanted to do business. The IMIS staff works hard all year long to produce a quality show for hardcore racers and this year was the best year we’ve ever had. It will only get better in the future. I had many exhibitors come up to me and say they were going to expand their booth for 2012 and that’s the best compliment we can get.”
IMIS gives motorsports companies a chance to interact with current customers while also meeting new ones. More than 20,000 attendees came to IMIS in 2011, and the show generated $16 million in direct spending for the city of Indianapolis.
“This show has been a blessing for us,” said Ed Starr, owner of Speedway, Ind.-based MagTech Performance Ignitions. “I’m so happy we had a wonderful day the first day. The majority of the people I got to see were actually looking for us as customers or people I have worked within the industry. On Friday, it seemed like we spoke mostly with new customers who gave us the opportunity to show them the products and talk about the upgrades we do right here at the show. It really makes a difference to be able to have that time and show potential customers what we can do for them. I think Friday could have been my greatest day for all new business.
“I’m so happy with how this show has gone that, next year, I’m going to expand my booth and get the crowd that is gathering around my booth out of the aisle so I can keep them there and I can catch everybody. The return on investment is here and I’m going to double my booth size next year.”
It wasn’t just the business being done that kept people happy, it was also the environment in which that business was getting done that pleased exhibitors and attendees.
“This is probably the neatest layout they’ve had since we’ve been coming to Indianapolis,” said Mark Brailey, production manager of Van Buren, Ark.-based Schoenfeld Headers. “Everything is laid out well. You can get around well. You can see things well. The lighting is fantastic. It’s just a great place to be, right now. The show has been awesome. A lot of traffic. A lot of hardcore racers coming in and asking what we can do for them and trying to find out what’s going on in the industry. It’s been a really, really good show.”
In addition to the activity on the show floor, there was plenty of action away from the main floor, as well, as the two-day IMIS Safety & Technical Conference presented by Safety-Kleen was, once again, a huge hit, along with the Youth Safety Conference. Several companies offered free seminars throughout the week, and Wednesday night’s welcome reception at Lucas Oil Stadium was well attended, as it has been in previous years. IMIS owners Paulsen, Stoops and Stewart were in attendance, along with Chip Ganassi, owner of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of INDYCAR, Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, and Greg Ballard, mayor of Indianapolis.
Also at the reception, Ganassi and Paulsen presented the second annual IMIS Achievement Award to Sam Schmidt, owner of Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
The week-long event was capped off on Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse, where Stewart held off 2011 Indianapolis 500 polesitter Alex Tagliani to win the inaugural Indy Karting Classic. The event pitted some of the top stars in NASCAR against top INDYCAR drivers in a go-kart race.
“The week was fantastic,” Paulsen said. “From the reception, to the show, to the karting race and everything else going on, we were just thrilled. Indianapolis is the center of racing and, for the entire week, downtown was full of hardcore racers doing business, both on the show floor and in the restaurants. As happy as we are, the work on the fourth show begins this week and we’ll review everything and make sure the 2012 International Motorsports Industry Show will be even better.”
The fourth annual edition of IMIS is set for Dec. 6-8, 2012 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Future dates are as follows:
2013: Dec. 4-6
2014: Dec. 3-5
2015: Dec. 2-4