Along about late October in the Midwest, racing comes to an abrupt halt, much to the sadness of thousands of fans. Halloween quickly becomes a distant memory as temperatures dip below the freezing mark and thoughts of turkey and all the trimmings become reality as families gather for the holiday. But in at least one state racing doesn't take a vacation just because snow blankets the tracks. In Indiana, in the "off-season," racing is alive and well thanks to what could be the country's best selection of trade shows and indoor racing activities.

The Hoosier State has a pair of huge auction/trade show events, a large racing swap meet/trade show, Dirt Late Model symposiums, a large Open Wheel indoor racing show, and a brand-new international show. Add in the many events evolving around the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a bunch of indoor RC racing events, and you have to agree that the Hoosier State is really the winter king of racing.

The International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS)
In only its second year of existence IMIS has quickly grown to be a noteworthy show. Promoting itself as a true "hard-core" racer's trade show, IMIS is the brainchild of C&R Racing owner, Chris Paulsen; Indiana Motorsports Association Executive Director, Tom Weisenbach; President of Stoops Freightliner, Jeff Stoops; and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart. All four are residents of Indiana.

The show was designed to take the place of the Performance Racing Industry show which moved to Orlando, Florida, several years ago when the Indiana Convention Center was being refurbished. When PRI elected to remain in Orlando, Paulsen and company set out to start their own show in Indy.

In its first year (2009), IMIS had 345 companies exhibit, while the 2010 version of the show saw 570 companies purchase booth space for the three-day trade show, which effectively doubles the floor space size in just one year.

One of the arguments against moving PRI to Orlando was that it alienated "hard-core" racers who couldn't afford to fly to Florida for a trade show but would have gladly driven four hours to Indianapolis. I (Editor Rob) attended IMIS and noted that the aisles were full and, in fact, I got stopped numerous times by Circle Track subscribers. It was pretty clear that many of the attendees of this show were local racers who were glad to have a large scale racing show back in Indianapolis.

Next year's show dates have been announced and two of the days overlap PRI's Orlando show. That will force some of the small exhibiting companies to make a choice between which show they will attend. In our estimation, the Indy show was well attended and had a good foundation of exhibitors. There was a tremendously positive air about the show and the racers who we talked to. I'd term it as cautious optimism, which is a dramatic upturn from the gloom and doom fears of the recession that plagued the last two years. How next year shakes out will be interesting to say the least.

Dave Dayton's Racer's Auction and Trade Show
One of the longest-running motorsports auction and trade shows in the nation is Dave Dayton's Racer's Auction and Trade Show. And 2010 marked the 35th year for this annual event which is held at the Indianapolis Convention Center (the same location as IMIS). It has attracted national and international bidders through its many years.

Held on Thanksgiving weekend, the show featured some 40 companies including a number of engine and race car builders, such as Killer Chassis, Bob Pierce Racecars, and CJ Rayburn Racecars.

The centerpiece of the show has got to be the auction. Event Director Donna Tyler (daughter of Dave Dayton) explained that there were 2,300 lots of just about everything imaginable motorsports-wise available for bidding during the auction. Most of the merchandise was stock car-oriented but there was also a sizable amount of Open Wheel equipment. In addition to the parts and pieces, there were also 15 race trailers and 40 race cars that rolled in front of the bidders.