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American Iron - Jan 2013 State of the Union Address


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For Immediate Release

American Iron Racing Series – State of the Union

January 15, 2013


A lot has been going on in the world of American Iron Racing. Yesterday, we opened a new and exciting chapter in the series' 12 year history. For those of you who did not see the announcement (http://www.nasaproracing.com), a new entry level class of American Iron racing with a spec aftermarket parts package was introduced to join AI and AIX. After much discussion and debate on the name, Spec Iron (SI) was born. (Originally the most appropriate name seemed to be “American Iron Spec”, however AIS looks & sounds too much like AIX and could very well get confusing. As such, we arrived at Spec Iron. ) This trilogy of American ponycar classes will provide any V8 musclecar gearhead the ability to pick his poison from mild to wild; (nearly) stock, moderately modified to fab frenzy & fast.


The timing of this new class is perfect for multiple reasons.


1) The S197 platform in our sister CMC series had become increasingly restricted down as much as it could go to maintain parity with the older Mustangs & Camaros. Those older CMC platforms have also tried to meet the S197 halfway by adopting more modern horsepower and performance as much as they could to maintain parity in recent years. Any further changes would compromise the philosophy of CMC and the existing platform performances. An amicable split was eminent.


2) With the advent of the Ford Coyote 5.0 engine, prices for the 2005-2010 3V engine Mustangs have dropped considerably…and supply of healthy mid-life donor Mustangs need a place to race!


3) I took role as National Series Director in 2008/09. The general feel of American Iron at that time was that allowed modifications had gone overboard and the “regular Joe” really couldn’t build a top car any longer. Since then, a number of relatively open rules have been reigned in over the years and the spirit of the original American Iron series is alive again. Bolt on aftermarket parts right out of a catalog can allow any regular Joe to now compete at the front of the pack with little to no modifications. I know many will say that the costs are higher today, and they are. Just looking at the published Cost of Living Adjustments since 1999 would suggest that the same goods & services should be ~40-50% more today than they were back then. Yet, American Iron still appears to be out of the financial realm of most racers due to the level of modifications allowed, and technical knowledge required …this has kept some people away from the series, until now.


4) Our diversity among the American Iron car makes in the series hasn’t changed too much in the past few years. If we are going to get more GM and Chrysler cars, we need to do something drastically different.


Ford Racing has really stepped up to help support our series in recent years. Those who attended the Championships saw that any S197 Mustang crash damage was fixed with OEM supplies right off the hauler to help get folks back on track for the main race. While I wish that level of support was available to all makes and models, we have to be thankful for what we've got. The Spec Iron series is an offshoot from those efforts and features a single model car using Ford Racing aftermarket parts. I believe that with the prescriptive “spec” package of modifications in Spec Iron, any other manufacturer (both OEM and aftermarket) can also develop a Spec package to compete with this baseline 2005-10 Mustang in the outyears. Eventually, with Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers and other Spec Iron cars in the entry level class, we will then see the parallel AI and AIX exposure, interest and growth we have been seeking.


Many thanks to CMC National Series Director AL Fernandez for essentially authoring and leading the technical review of the Spec Iron rules. Working with Al (and Ford Racing), allowed us to bridge the gap from CMC to American Iron. On that new bridge will be some new ponycar racers and hopefully some new platforms in the coming years. Car count is king…and my goal is to see an entire 40 car field of no other classes but red, white & blue “American Iron” windshield bannered cars in every race session.


…a few words about the 2013 Rules packages.


First off, you’ll notice that we broke out the AI and AIX rules packages into separate rulesets. This was done for a few reasons. Obviously, with the incoming SI ruleset, it was easier to start with a clean sheet of paper. In addition, the mixture of AI & AIX rules had gotten confusing at times and racers weren’t always sure if the rules were referring to one class or another. Having them separate should be simpler to understand and hopefully foster some new candidates to come race with us.


The Spec Iron Rules highlights…

1) Spec Iron brings a major shift in the rules interpretation philosophy. In traditional AI or AIX rules, if it doesn’t say you CAN’T…you can. Similar to CMC, these new Spec Iron rules specify…if it doesn’t say you CAN….then you CAN’T! (Another reason why the rulesets had to be separated.)


2) Many people have questioned “why only the 2005-10 Mustang?” The easy answer for year one is simplicity. Finding parity among one car model & engine is much easier, especially to get a baseline. Another popular question “Why not the V6 Mustang or other make/model cars that make similar power?” While we’ve all sat around the same campfire dreaming about such cheap and plentiful V6 racecars, unfortunately we haven’t seen the masses bring them. As such, there isn’t a lot of energy around it (besides some of the technical, hardware issues to consider.) Lastly, why not a Camaro or Challenger? Going back to simplicity (and sponsorship). Ford Racing has been the only manufacturer to step up to the plate and work with us to develop a solid racing platform. It will be the benchmark, but we will consider other makes/models in future years to further the Spec Iron philosophy.


3) A relatively new approach in the SI class rules is the advent of the 53.5% front to rear minimum requirement. All too often we see lots of time and energy spent in shifting the weight around the car thru loopholes in the written language. Al Fernandez said “Stop the Insanity”…and put a hard % to adhere to.


4) The Spec Iron brakes and shock packages got a lot of attention. We’ve started small and simple. There could be a time in the future where we work with sponsors on a different package, however in year one, to keep costs and prep down, the existing rules package made sense.


5) Another great thing about having Ford Racing support is that they we will now have the ability to read, reflash and monitor ECU’s. Ford Racing has committed to providing NASA with the tools and support to have PCM flash capability. This will eliminate another variable in car prep and ensure a level playing field.


6) Our signature 3 color “American Iron” windshield banner will continue it’s theme for Spec Iron. Red background for AIX, Blue background for AI and now White background for SI completes the red, white & blue theme. For the National Championships, we will give Ford Racing some additional exposure and switch to their Ford Racing windshield banner.


7) Speaking of exposure, along with the excellent contingency program, Ford Racing’s support will include National Championship television/internet coverage of the National Championship Races. We expect to have all 3 AI classes competing together and all enjoying the same television and media coverage. This will be a step change from what the series has seen in the past, and will open up a lot of other opportunities. (Regional Mustang race shops are already contemplating rental cars.)


The AI Rules….


Our over-riding principle for this year was “little to no change…consistency”. Many other classes, series and sanctioning bodies had imposed drastic changes that we really felt another year would do us well.

1) While I feel the parity among platforms right now is VERY close, we realize that a well driven, well prepared S197 is tough to beat. We were open to making some more changes to equal the field, but my philosophy has always been to try and “give” things instead of “taking them away”. As such, the S197 Mustang has essentially remained as-is over the years @ 9.5:1 weight to power. More power adjustments in way of .25:1 for the other platforms were discussed but decided to remain another year.


2) An RCR was submitted asking why the class leading S197 Mustang was afforded the same 2.5” wheelbase above stock as the other platforms, since a) it was so successful and b) already the longest wheelbase in the field. While some had modified their wheelbase within the intent of the rules, most S197 Mustang owners have yet to explore this. It is like 2001 all over again and redesigned K-members were in the works. As such, we did remove 1” going from 210” to 209” on the S197 as a stop gap measure without affecting existing racers.


3) Wings and splitters were clarified. There was much confusion around where the measurements were to be taken. The new language should make it clear that the front splitter is to follow the curve of the front end + 5”. The rear wing and diffuser cannot go beyond 1.5” of the furthest point rearward (essentially a straight line). See the rule…we tried to even put a picture to demonstrate it better but folks were still not clear.

4) Modern ABS & electronics are here to stay, concerns remain around the newer car’s ability to make and regulate power. The area under the power curve (and the newer car’s ability to maximize it) remains a sticking point for many when trying to achieve parity. No actions were taken this year.


5) The dyno procedures remained as in year’s past, however, there has been a lot of regional differences on how the post race weight/dyno procedures were administered. The regional directors landed on a single process which will now be applied nationally. In most cases, this applies to when there is a dyno at the track. However, I have always contested that with or without a dyno at the track, the same process can be followed by sealing the hood or mutually agreeing to meet offsite at a dyno after the weekend event is over.

6) The dash rule…what can I say? With the introduction of Spec Iron, we now have a stock based class where factory dashes are mandatory. As such, I relaxed on my pet peeve of dash-less racecars. The CCR does have authority (much like the exterior appearance 50/50 rule) in that if an interior has exposed wires and does not have a clean appearance they will be required to fix them before the next event. The regional series directors will be enforcing this (or not).


…The 2013 AIX rules remain as is however a provision was given to the S197 cars with pushrod motors to clearance the cowl & wiper bucket. This is the same provision currently allowed for F-body cars so as to allow basic maintenance and valve cover removal. It does not allow firewall setback or heavy modification.

One of the goals of the rules revision season that was NOT met (again) was that, despite numerous assurances on a Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas deadline, I was not successful another year in a row. For that, I am 100% responsible, and your regional series directors were waiting on me. As such, for 2013, I’ve relinquished my rules review process and timing to the AI directors under the leadership of Al Watson. I will retain my role as National Director, however have delegated the RCR submittal, receipt, consolidation, and recommendation to the regional directors. This will no doubt help to meet the deadline with my busy schedule. Now, instead of the National Director compiling a draft for the regional guys to review; The regional directors will compile a draft for me and the HQ office to review.


As such, I’m pleased to also announce that John Lindsey (co-founder of American Iron) will return to take on a more active role to co-direct American Iron for 2013. I’m finding that I have too many balls in the air and my availability and response time is often not as quick as it should be. John will back me up. I’m hoping that this “newfound free time” will allow me to build my “new” American Iron racecar and return to the series for some driving duties in 2013.


Bottom line…I hope this provided some insight and explanation. I see grand things for American Iron and hopefully with a stable growing economy, we can expect more series growth, more cars and most importantly…MORE FUN!!!

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