I’ve spoken about this in the past, but last week was the annual Media Trade Conference put on by Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC), which is an arm of SEMA. It’s what members of the media; editors, photographers, etc.; may refer to as speed dating.
In typical years, each manufacturer would book a room in a hotel and media members would apply to visit with each in an uninterrupted half-hour or so slot. When your time was up, you moved on to the next room. But the beauty was the uninterrupted time while each manufacturer explained their products, the end result being to have you interested enough to write about what you saw. It’s always taken place at this time of year in southern California and I can tell you that coming from Pennsylvania, it was a welcome change in climate. More so than that though, it was where you could come out with a whole host of topics and stories to keep you writing all year long.
Last year, the event went virtual because of the pandemic, but I believe most of us thought there was no way this could ever work. A few days prior to the event last year, the folks responsible for the programming hosted a webinar to explain how it would all work. It was my thought at that time this was going to be the most confusing thing ever. How could they ever host 50 or so companies along with dozens of media people and allow us the one-on-one contact we had when we all gathered in person?
I’ve got to commend them though, once you navigated the website and used it a couple of times, it was virtually (excuse the pun) full-proof. The only issues may have been had your computer camera or microphone been acting up. Each manufacturer had a “table,” and at your scheduled time, you clicked on their table, turned on your camera and microphone and were instantly meeting face-to-face with the manufacturers’ representatives through the mastery of the internet.
This year, they made the decision to continue the virtual meetings and with a couple of enhancements in the software from last year, it was once again full-proof. At least for me it was. So, what were the earth-shattering story ideas I came out of this with? There were several.
One of the most exciting stories for me anyway, was during my meeting with Old World Industries, the manufacturer of PEAK antifreeze, Blue Def, as well as a number of other products. As a highlight; to me anyway; Bruce Bohlander of OWI brought in John Force and we talked; actually, he talked and I listened; for a long time about all sorts of topics.
Now, I’m not exactly a pessimist, more of a realist, and maybe even not much of an optimist. However, especially in light of my medical issues lately, I am positive I’ll get through it alright, although still hoping that the “light at the end of the tunnel” isn’t a train headed in my direction.
In any event, one of the questions I asked Force was, “As positive a person as you are, when you lay your head down on the pillow at night, does the pessimistic John Force ever come out?”
His answer was simple, although with Force there isn’t such a thing as a simple answer, but no, he simply just goes about being John Force. It’s hard not to get excited about drag racing when you listen to that man. It was an interesting discussion and I’m thankful to Brian Bohlander for putting the meeting together.
Other than that, one of the underlying stories from the Conference had to be the almost unanimous concern of supply issues for all sorts of materials and products. Backorders of goods is taking a toll on all industries and motorsports is no different. A couple of weeks ago, I went to the grocery story to pick up cream cheese and the shelves were bare. Apparently there’s a shortage. What the…?
However, all the manufacturers I spoke with are working their best to alleviate the issues. Although, no one has a crystal ball to know when these issues may end. All we can do is go with the flow.