The Performance Racing Industry trade show took place at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis December 9-11, attracting racers and motorsports manufacturers from around the globe. The world's largest trade show for professional racers has outgrown the convention center in Indianapolis and that includes the cavernous RCA Dome, which is part of the complex. One week after the show, city officials announced plans for a new convention center and stadium to house the Indianapolis Colts. In the meantime the PRI show, as it's affectionately known, will move to Orlando, Florida for 2005.
Every year the PRI show sets the stage for the debut of new and innovative products, from the latest design software to cutting edge tire warmer technology. Amidst all the latest gadgets, new products and the latest protective safety gear, the story of a small company from France, and a huge company from Belgium stood out.
You've probably never heard of either one, unless of course, you build high performance engines for a world class series. Sorevi, a relatively small company from France, was recently purchased by Bekaert, a large company from Belgium. Sorevi produces engine coatings in Limoges, France, a city known around the world for their fine porcelain. Cavidur coatings produced by Bekaert Sorevi are used by every Formula One team, except one, competing in the World Championship. Bekaert's claim to fame, and fortune, is premium grade wire. Used in everything from steel belted tires to ladies undergarments, a Bekaert representative informed me their products can be found in virtually every car manufactured today.
Since the Sorevi name is more recognizable to racing engine builders than Bekaert, the French company's name will be used in conjunction with Bekaert as it expands its business in the United States and opens a state-of-the art race coating facility in Research Park Triangle, N.C. in the first quarter of 2005. This begs the question, why would a company supplying the majority of the Formula One field with specialized coatings be expanding their business to the U.S.? Actually, the answer is quite simple, and pertains to recent Formula One rule changes regarding engine usage. In 2004, teams competing in the World Championship were restricted to one engine per race weekend. "This cut out business by one-third," said Marc Herve, a Sorevi representative from Limoges, France. "Rule changes further restricting engine usage in Formula One will again cut the business we do with the teams."
Looking to new markets, it made sense to establish Bekaert Sorevi's U.S. presence close to heart of NASCAR country. After all, when all but one Formula One team is using your products, it doesn't take long before teams competing in other series take notice. NASCAR is no different. Bekaert Sorevi, now providing engine coating services to five NASCAR Nextel Cup Series teams, is sworn to secrecy regarding who's using their products. As in any competitive business, "we've signed non-disclosure agreements with the teams," said Fred Wietig, Bekaert Sorevi's sales and marketing manager for automotive applications.
Bekaert Sorevi is making a huge commitment to the American racing market with its new advanced coating facility in Research Triangle Park, near Raleigh Durham, N.C. Along with its existing facility in Amherst, N.Y., both facilities will concentrate solely on the U.S. domestic market, but the North Carolina facility will concentrate on serving American racers, including the NASCAR community.
Bekaert Sorevi has high hopes for the U.S. market. It has already cornered the Formula One market; now it's time to work its magic in the United States.