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NASA-TX Round 1 American Iron Race Recap (MSR-H)


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The 2013 season for NASA-TX kicked-off at Motorsport Ranch Houston last weekend over the weekend of January 19th. The season touts a large increase in car count for American Iron, showing that the Ponycars are still alive and kicking. With 3 “rookies” and one comp school student working towards his comp license, the American Iron series in TX is alive and kicking!

Of the “new guys”, there is a spectacular S-197 build of Mark Lopilato and 3 FOX Mustangs (2 sedans and 1 hatchback). 2 of the FOX (John Linton and Jim Strader) cars are even updated with ’03-04 Cobra IRS, which makes for a creative mix of technology to the “old school” platform. Mike Montgomery’s Mustang was a more “classic” solid axle with a carb. Regardless, all three of the new Fox’s were very well built and seemed to be “top notch”.


Unfortunately Mark Lopilato’s S-197 build was having teething issues during practice on Friday with a leaky rear main seal on his 401ci 351W based mill. A late night thrash put him back together for Saturday, but during practice more gremlins descended on him and kept the car from making any power, so Mark’s weekend was over before it started. He vowed to exercise the demons for MSR-C in March so we look forward to seeing his car healthy soon.


MSR-H also saw the return of “Rookie” Dave Kagan. His ex-Grand AM Mustang Cobra hit the track and set a blistering lap during qual on Sunday (1:41.7). The previous record prior to the weekend was Marshall Mosty’s from 2011 of 1:45.0. Needless to say, the bar has been raised considerably over what the past champion was able to accomplish. Unfortunately for Dave, he was unable to back that time up during a race, so the record went to 4th gen Camaro driver, Mike Patterson with a 1:42.4.


Overall racing for American Iron was intense all weekend with Kagan and Patterson checking out early and never looking back. Kagan lead Patterson during R1 until Patterson failed to clear pad knock-back coming on the front straight and ended up not having enough brakes to get the car stopped before he made contact with Kagan, forcing him to get buried in the kitty litter at T1. Mike in true sportsman fashion stopped on track to see if Kagan could get back to the racing surface. After it was clear that he could not continue, Mike continued and finished the race. Unfortunately that ended both Kagan’s race with a last place finish and Patterson with a DQ as a result of the contact with Kagan.


The mid-pack boys also duked it out and there was hard racing between veteran’s Jim Dulaney in his 4th gen Firebird and Casey Holdway in his 4th gen Camaro. The rookies (Mike Montgomery and John Linton) rounded out the field as they got a taste of the competition in the lone star state.


The standing starts for R1 and R3 are a Texas specialty and didn’t fail to disappoint. During the first race on Sunday (R3), veteran Casey Holdway stalled his Camaro during the standing start and visions of Australian Supercars came to mind as the back of AI and the entire CMC field dove as far as 4-wheels off to avoid Casey’s stalled racecar. Casey got the issue resolved quickly enough and roared off to get to the back of the AI field by the end of the race.


R4 was an inverted grid from the finishing order from R3. That put Patterson and Kagan at the back to claw their way to the front on the field. Patterson got lucky and cleared the majority of the AI traffic by the exit of T2, but Kagan had to wait some 4 corners later to clear the field before he could start reigning in Patterson. Dave fought hard, but could not make up the gap that Patterson had produced with his skillful racecraft at the beginning of the race. Patterson was able to easily win R4 on Sunday and close out the first race weekend of 2013.


On a side note, we did see the return of a veteran that will also have to work thru his “rookie” year. Todd Covini debuted his “Roadster” CMC (err I mean AI) car this weekend. Todd has a bunch of rust he needs to shake out of the old beast, but we were very glad he attended. He has even joined forces with Marshall Mosty, NASA TX Director and 2011 Champion to team drive for the 2013 season. A shoulder injury has Marshall on the sidelines until May at the earliest.


A special thanks to NASA-TX who let us use their grill and tent for our 2012 awards banquet Friday night!


Our next event is Motorsport Ranch (Cresson) in March. It should be a very tight race.

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