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NASA Texas TWS 3-4 April Race Writeup - with pics!

Adam Ginsberg

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April 7, 2004


NASA TEXAS American Iron Series takes to the high banks of TWS!


Round 2 of the Texas AI racing season on the weekend of April 3rd & 4th proved to be a sunny, warm and successful one without any thunderstorms! NASA American Iron racers and competition license candidates converged on the 2.9 mile road course of Texas World Speedway (http://www.texasworldspeedway.com) in College Station, TX and a fun time was had by all!



+ 7 Mustangs and 1 Camaro

+ 6 American Iron cars.

+ 4 AI sprint races toward championship points (20-30 minutes each)

+ 3 Racecraft students working towards their competition licenses

+ 2 engine failures, 1 power steering pump failure, 1 electric fan failure, 1 wheel bearing failure, and various tweaking and wrenching where all AI racers pitched in to help each other!

+ 1 Pole Position qualifier – John George (both days)

+ 1 winner for the weekend - John George (all four races)

+ Consistent lap times were around the 2:00:00 minute mark with John George being the man to beat all weekend turning times in the 1:56 range.

+ No body contact or on track incidents...a great overall weekend.



SATURDAY MORNING'S PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING SESSIONS would set the bar for TWS lap times in American Iron Racing. Since this was the first NASA Texas event at TWS, all were curious to see what the lap times would be established at. It didn't take long for the Mustang “freight-train†of George, Manor and Pedersen to start circling the track in NASCAR fashion, nose to tail during practice. Unfortunately, after a handful of laps, the Manor engine developed a severe internal vibration. The combination of a severe engine vibration and no oil pressure indication ended his weekend. With most of the AI group wrenching on their cars, many missed the morning qualifying session. John George's 5.0 Resto Mustang took the AI Pole position with the fastest time of the weekend with a 1:55.69. Richard Pedersen cut his fastest time of the weekend with a 2:00:99 on worn Toyos which would prove to be a factor later in his weekend. Todd Covini posted the 3rd fastest time in qualifying with a 2:02:72, on treaded tires which would only improve as the weekend racing got them down to optimal "shaved depth".




SATURDAY"S RACE #1 brought the American Iron racers on track. With John George on pole position and the AI points leader, Rich Dickey starting from the back (due to a missed qualifying session), all eyes were on the two fastest AI cars now at either end of the rolling start grid. When the green flag dropped, Dickey took to the inside and used his 360 ft/lbs of torque to motor up into the top 5 before turn 2. Richard Dickey's fastest lap of 1:57:45 in his Camaro just wasn't enough to stay with the higher HP of John George's Mustang. After a few laps of close racing, John George pulled out in front of the pack and never looked back to take the win after 15 laps. Dickey took second place. Todd Covini managed his first AI podium finish in third place only after Richard Pedersen's Mustang ran out of fuel with a comfortable lead.


SATURDAY RACE #2 gridded the AI/CMC cars in the inverted finishing order from Race #1. This race would start after only 20 minutes of the Race #1 finish, leaving little time to fuel up and check for potential car problems. With the lower HP cars of Covini and Pedersen out front, it was only a matter of seconds when the high HP cars of George and Dickey would come around and take the front positions. When the green flag dropped, John George was back up in the front before turn 1, with Dickey in the chase. Covini got right on Pedersen's bumper and proceeded to learn the veteran's line around TWS. The two battled for third place lap after lap less than a car length away. With two laps to go, Pedersen's rear tires started to go away and got sideways out of Turn 2. At that point Covini pulled along Pedersen's passenger side and the two went door to door all the way to the back straight where Pedersen's lighter weight allowed him to regain his lead. In the end, it was John George, Richard Dickey and Richard Pedersen in that order on the Podium.




SUNDAY MORNING QUALIFYING would bring out fresh tires and a fresh outlook on the day's racing to find more speed. Todd Covini felt that he was losing speed and losing ground on Richard Pedersen's wingless car on the front straight during Saturday's races. In order, the top qualifiers were George (1:56:57), Dickey (1:58:34), Covini (2:01:37) and Pedersen (2:01:93). Covini found more speed with the absence of his wing, however, at the cost of rear downforce in the high speed sections.


SUNDAY'S RACE (#3) gridded the field in qualifying order. After the green flag dropped, the similar scenario followed with John George taking the lead with Richard Dickey taking up the chase. John's Mustang was able to hang on to the race lead. Todd Covini's wingless Mustang was able to take a comfortable lead early in the race for third against Richard Pedersen, however, Pedersen slowly reeled Covini in by using superior exit speed on the final turn and making the pass on the front straight. Late in the race, Covini went off in Turn 1 at full speed handing Pedersen the podium 3rd place finish and taking home 4th for himself. Rookie David Donovan dropped 2 seconds of his lap times and finished behind Covini. In the end it was George, Dickey and Pedersen for the 1-2-3.




SUNDAY'S RACE (#4) was gridded for a rolling start based upon the inverted finishing order of the previous Race #3. During the short 20 minute break from Race #3, Covini bolted his wing back on his Mustang in the interest of downforce. When the green flag dropped, again it was John George's 5.0 Resto Mustang out in front with his 325 HP taking the lead. Dickey chased but never was able to take the lead. Pedersen got an early lead on Covini for 3rd but after getting off line on the start gathered a lot of loose rubber on his tires. At the exit of turn 2, Pedersen began sliding and Covini was well on his way to taking 3rd place...with Donavan close behind in this trio of speed! Rookie David Donovan found the speed he needed and dropped 5 seconds off his Saturday qualifying time cutting a 2:02:99 and running with the pack! Unfortunately, his success was short lived as on Lap 3, Donovan's AI engine locked up after shifting to 4th on the front straight. A broken crank and the end of David's weekend. Covini & Pedersen continued their bumper to bumper battle for third with Richard taking back his position with a textbook pass on the straight again with good exit speed and drafting on lap 5. In Turn 6, Pedersen drove the standard line under braking and Covini dove to the inside for a clean pass. Again, Pedersen took it back on the front straight with one lap to go. Covini didn't have anything for the Pedersen Mustang and it was George, Dickey, Pedersen taking home podium finishes.




In summary, most everyone again had a blast at this NASA Texas event. Most importantly, there were no incidents and no issues. The comeradie in the pits was at an all-time high as everyone pitched in to help their fellow racers get back on track for racing or licensing. Many new rookies were able to take advantage of lead-follows and many of the track veterans were able to offer instruction and rides. For every racer that competed at TWS, there were twice as many inquiries from future AI racers at the track and via email this week. Expect to see more F-bodies soon....the American Iron series is growing in Texas!!!



MSR 1:23:704 John George (AI) 3/7/04

MSR 1:26:609 Todd Covini (CMC) 3/6/04


TWS 1:56:188 John George (AI) 4/3/04

TWS 2:01:391 Todd Covini (CMC) 4/3/04




* Track records only recorded from races in race trim.


HARD LUCK AWARD goes to Wayne Manor again for beginning his TWS weekend with engine troubles only after spending the past few weeks removing and replacing his prior engine. A close second for this award goes to Mike Patterson who sat out this round of AI racing due to a damaged engine in his Camaro. While Mike assumed his regular instructing duties this weekend, his tow vehicle broke a coolant fitting requiring most of Saturday nite to fix. We hope to see both racers have a successful weekend next round at Motorsport Ranch!




1 395 Varner (CMC)

2 395 Covini (CMC)

3 380 Ginsberg (CMC)

4 0 Zazzarino (CMC)

5 0 Bishop (CMC)

6 0 Runyan (CMC)





1 760 Dickey (AI)

2 746 George (AI)

3 680 Pedersen (AI)

4 340 Bell (AI)

5 325 Covini (AI)

6 257 Donovan (AI)

7 155 Patterson (AI)

8 70 Johnson (AI)

9 70 Mixon(AI)

10 35 Manor (AI)

11 0 Mosty (AI)

12 0 Armstrong (AI)

13 0 White (AI)

14 0 King (AI)

15 0 Kinman (AI)



For more information, the following websites should be able to answer any of your licensing/rules/racing questions:







Round 3 of NASA Texas AI/CMC racing will be on June 5th & 6th at MSR. Register now!


If you have any questions, feel free to contact Todd Covini or Adam Ginsberg at any time!


Todd Covini

NASA Texas

AI & CMC Director

713-252-3465 cell

713-758-5249 days


Adam Ginsberg

NASA Texas

AI & CMC Asst. Director

972-621-5702 days

214-529-0067 cell

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