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The 2018 Pontiac Nationals

The 2018 Pontiac Nationals.
                The Pontiac Nationals is the world’s largest all Pontiac/GMC car meet. It is held during the first full week of August. It consists of drag racing with multiple classes, both bracket and heads up racing, a large car show, swap meet, and vendors. It is held annually in Norwalk, Ohio at the Summit Motorsports Park drag strip. There have been some well-known cars in attendance. Pontiac drag racer Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick and his car are frequent guests. The Boss Bird, a replica of Arnie Beswick’s funny car and currently the world’s only nitro powered Pontiac funny car is a regular as well.
Drag racing took place throughout the entire day.

                It is a three-day event, from Friday to Sunday. I arrived Saturday morning. The practice had started for the races that would start in a few hours. The field on the side of the track was filled with show cars representing decades of Pontiacs and even a GMC semi truck. Closer to the track was the swap meet, which was still filled with parts and memorabilia. There is a lot with cars for sale. The cars racing were as diverse as the cars in the show; there was everything from station wagons to dragsters. Several Pontiac powered cars broke the 200mph barrier. There was also a classic super stock race featuring a variety of manufactures. On the other side of the track is a row of food vendors and a gift shop, designed like an old-timey town. There is a good selection of food, ranging from a pound of ice cream for a dollar to slices of pizza, beyond that are the pits for the racers.

A 1969 Trans Am at the car show.
                Splitting my time between the racing, checking out the pits, the car show and swap meet, I still didn’t get a chance to see everything. The racing continued on until Sunday, which was when the various award ceremonies took place. I left around 5 and headed back to Indiana. I look forward to returning, as there are always new things to see.

A GMC pickup getting ready to race.
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The 2017 PRI Show.


The 2017 PRI Show.
                I attended my first ever Performance Racing Industry or PRI Show on the 9th of December. This year the show celebrated its 30th anniversary. The PRI Show is an annual trade show for the automotive racing industry. It attracts companies from all over the world which was evident by the translators available. I was immediately blown away by the size of it. It occupied two large halls, as well as several smaller rooms in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Coming into Indianapolis I was met with fairly light snow and somewhat light traffic (as light as traffic in a state capital could be). The Convention was right next to Lucas Oil Stadium. I parked and made my way across the street to the convention center. Once inside, I was immediately greeted by a large MOPAR booth. It turns out the Big Three were well represented at the show. Dodge had also brought out a funny car which was suspended from the ceiling by one of the main entrances. Booths lined the hall that separated the outside from one of the main halls. Ford Performance had several cars including Joey Logano’s Factory Five Daytona Coupe. Chevy Performance had brought several cars as well including a Hot Wheels themed Camaro.
          

NASCAR driver Joey Logano's Factory Five Daytona Coupe at the PRI Show.
Joey Logano’s Factory Five Daytona Coupe

                One of the first rooms I went into was a special showcase of products, in it; among other things were a Dodge Challenger and a Radical race car. Next, it was on to one of the main halls. Some of the larger booths had cars on display, which for some would be worth the trip alone. There were also plenty of celebrity autograph seasons as well. One of the cars that really stood out to me was Mark Donahue’s 1967 Lola Can-Am car. Interestingly the car is still raced several times a year. Can-Am cars really appeal to me as their general lack of design rules lead to a lot of creativity and variety in the series.

Mark Donohue's Lola Can-Am race car at the 2017 PRI Show in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mark Donohue’s Lola
                Before I went to the PRI Show I downloaded their phone app. It features a floor plan and the ability to search for products by category. It was a good way to look through the myriad of vendors and associations present at the show. There were also plenty of places at the convention center to eat, which worked great for me. Two slices of pizza later I was ready to continue exploring. Even if you stayed on your feet for almost the entire day it would be hard to see everything. I arrived shortly after it opened and left at closing and there was still some stuff I didn’t have time to get to. The racing sim challenge looked like a lot of fun, where attendees could compete with each other for a prize. However, I didn’t have the chance to try it or the other racing sims available to try at the PRI Show.

                Fittingly for Indianapolis, several of A.J. Foyt’s Indy Cars were on display courtesy of the Indianapolis 500 Museum. It was amazing to see how much the cars had evolved during the course of his racing career. There was a wide range of manufactures, from the Big Three to small family businesses. Many different racing disciplines were represented as well, including drag racing, oval, dirt track, and road racing. It was a lot to see in one day; however, I managed to see most of it. I had a great time and I look forward to returning to it. I can only imagine how much bigger it will become. If anyone else went please feel free to let me know about it in the comments.

Several of A.J. Foyt's Indy Cars on display at the PRI Show.
Several of A.J. Foyt’s Indy cars.
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The Pontiac-Oakland Museum


The Pontiac-Oakland Museum
             A museum that is well worth the time if you are into cars is the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. It’s been at this location since 2011. I’ve been to the museum several times now and every trip back there is something new. Pontiac, Illinois is not unlike many other small cities in the Midwest. Its downtown is a square built around a courthouse. Pontiac, Illinois the sort of city that could easily be mistaken for a town. It’s about 3 hours from Chicago, out in the country surrounded on all sides by fields. The museum is located on the square, and frequently plays host to car shows representing all kinds of different makes and models.
             The museum is owned and ran by the husband and wife team of Tim and Penny Dye. It is truly a labor of love. The amount of work that goes into the museum by them and the volunteers is immediately evident as you walk in. The museum plays host to an ever-changing line up of cars that span a century of automotive history. There’s usually even a race car or two. It even goes beyond cars, there is a section dedicated to Chief Pontiac, the Ottawa chief that the brand is named for and a recreation of a 1960s (soon to be 1970s) campsite. The museum also has its own library. A room stocked with a wide range of books and magazines. Want to find a period road test of your classic Pontiac? There is a good chance it’s in there.
             There’s a gift shop with all kinds of cool Pontiac related items, including a few classic things. I picked up a dealer exclusive model of a 1979 Trans Am there. It’s well worth the trip for Pontiac fans as well as car fans in general. You can check out their Facebook page here and visit their website at http://www.pontiacoaklandmuseum.org/.