PRI ’23 Was a Wild Ride

The Eatmyink crowd found social hubs in both halls of the Indiana Convention Center at this year’s Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show. The always hopping Worldwide Bearings (WWB) booth was supplemented in the other hall by the FuelTech booth—home this year to Jaska Salakari’s Race Engine Technology (RET) cover bike.

But WWB stepped up their game-time, hosting Ryan Oehler, El Bandido Yankee Tequila, and their BurroMax giveaway in the booth. A square inch is available? Let’s put in a Mike Mullaney bare chassis, too!

My very first photo of the event was Alex Laughlin with the El Bandido Yankee girls at the WWB booth.

The El Bandido Yankee started flowing fast and heavy during the opening day “Happy Hour” and by the next day, the PRI Five-O started keeping an eye on booth #111. The atmosphere was a touch more subdued—but just a touch!

Around the corner at CP-Carrillo, their annual Friday 3:30 party was less of an autograph session than it has been in the past, but was still a gathering of drag racing celebs.

Tim Wilkerson and Ryan Oehler discuss tradin’ paint in the CP-Carrillo booth.

The SCR Gaskets booth across the aisle featured both convivial conversation and an excellent selection of top shelf Bourbon.

Scrappers Racing tuner Rob Flynn and SCE Gaskets’ Ryan Hunter.

NHRA’s Ned Waliser investigating Jaska Salakari’s Top Fuel Motorcycle entry with a very interested audience.

There was no booze at the FuelTech booth, but a steady gang of Finns and a stream of motorcycle drag racers to see Jaska, meet his son Elmeri, and check out their incredible bike. At 5:00pm on Friday, NHRA’s Ned Waliser came to learn more about Jaska’s bike and determine a tentative safety approval for NHRA Top Fuel Motorcycle competition. At 5:00pm on Saturday, Billy Vose and Larry Berg were on hand to pick up Jaska’s bike as the new rider and owner. How cool is that?

New nitro team Billy Vose and Larry Berg with Salakari.

Had a thorough conversation with Eddie Krawiec and Terry Vance (here seen signing Tracy Arakaki’s poster) about the new Vance & Hines Pro Stock Motorcycle rental program. According to Krawiec, the rental equipment will be exactly the same and the tune-up just as competitive as what Gaige Herrera has. The price will be the highest in the field at $12,500 per weekend, but the equipment has shown itself to be the most competitive.
WAR team owner and tuner Tim Kulungian with CP-Carrillo’s Cindy Verkooij

WAR rider Chase Van Sant flanked by his dad Bruce (right) and uncle Craig (left) in the Trick-Tools booth
Always great to see Jeff and Jeffery Zaugg in the Advanced Sleeve booth.
The WWB crew turned out in force, as always.
Larry McBride flanked by 2024 NHRA Top Fuel Dragster rookies Ida Zetterström (left) and Jasmine Salinas.

Jaska Salakari (right) with fellow Finns Hannes Köntti (far left), Heikki Salminen, Mika Isosomppi, and Jaska’s son Elmeri.
Salakari and tuner/builder Michael Goñi discuss the finer points of the FuelTech system.

Zipper’s Performance maestro Dan Fitzmaurice with V-Twin stud Mike Beland.
Bill Rowe’s AHDRA booth featured Michael Balch’s Nitro Funnybike.

WWB’s Dave Conforti (right) with racing graphic artist Greg Russell.
WWB right-hand man Ray Golson

There’s a whole wave of motorcycle drag racers looking to move into Pro Stock Motorcycle, but none more surprising to me than Terry Martin (left). “You can’t wheelie a Pro Stock!” I joked with Martin, shown here with his dad Ty (right) and Shawn Golliday.
Dystany Spurlock is another PSM-bound racer, but she’s involved in so much more. We discussed her recent Skip Barber open wheel racing experience and her interest in racing GT sports cars.

FuelTech’s Luis de Leon and Anderson Dick with Salakari.
It was very cool seeing Eatmyink stickers in multiple locations on Jaska’s bike.

Redneck Express in the house! Jimmy Fox (left), Dick Boxell (rear), Chris Hand and CP-Carrillo’s Cindy Verkooij
Nitro Harley stud Mark Conner and “Sweet Lou” Fry.

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story and photos by Tim Hailey

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