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NASA Texas 5-6 June MSR Race write up - w/images!! ( DUW )

Adam Ginsberg

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Part I


NASA TEXAS, ROUND 3 of 6 - Motorsport Ranch



Weekend Racing Recap

June 4-6, 2004



June 15, 2004




AI & CMC cars from all over Texas converged on the 1.7 mile road course called Motorsport Ranch (http://www.motorsportranch.com) just outside the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for the second time this NASA Texas racing season on the weekend of June 5 & 6. In addition to the racing action, many AI/CMC followers and future racers also dropped by to check out the AI/CMC series.



+ 4 AI/CMC sprint races toward championship points (20 minutes each)

+ 1 practice session and 2 qualifying sessions (15-20 minutes each)

+ 7 total race group sessions and well over 2 hours of track time!

+ 6 American Iron cars.

+ 3 CMC cars.

+ 3 Competition Licensing students working towards AI competition.

+ 2 Camaros

+ 7 Mustangs

+ 3 Pole Position qualifiers – John George 2X (AI)…Todd Covini Race #1 (CMC)…Eric Varner Race #2 (CMC)

+ 4 winners for the weekend - John George 4x (AI)...Todd Covini 2x (CMC)…Eric Varner (CMC)...Adam Ginsberg (in his first CMC win during his rookie season!)

+ No engine failures, 1 gas cap failure, 1 TFI module failure, 1 harmonic balance failure (detected before catastrophic!), 1 alternator failure, 1 front wheel bearing failure, 1 rear axle bearing failure, 1 power steering hose failure, some cooling troubles and a gas pedal failure (which Adam amazingly had a spare to fix!!!)

+ Consistent lap times were in the mid- 1:24s for AI and mid 1:27s for CMC.

+ John George's 5.0 Resto Mustang was the car to beat in AI all weekend long while Todd Covini, Eric Varner and Adam Ginsberg’s laptimes were so close anyone could emerge the winner in CMC.


FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE brought a caravan of AI/CMC racers out of Houston heading up I-45 to the track. Mike Bell, Eric Varner, Todd Covini, David Armstrong and Eric Pedersen left mid-day in anticipation of our usual Friday nite “Happy-Hour†testing. DFW racers Adam Ginsberg and John George along with their respective pit crews Seth Ginsberg and Mark Tackman met up with the group, unloaded their cars and reserved paddock spaces for our other AI/CMC racers. Fellow Mustangers and Corner-Carvers David Schwartz, Darren McCarley, Matt White and Lewis Tanner took advantage of the open track time and tested their cars along with the AI/CMC racers. NASA Ohio/Indiana CMC Director Tim Laplante couldn't turn down an offer for some inexpensive track time and scheduled a family trip in conjunction with the Motorsport Ranch Happy Hour, taking the wheel of Covini's Mobil 1 CMC Mustang for a few hot laps. This would be David Armstrong's first time on Motorsport Ranch in his fully prepared AI Mustang, so the testing allowed for some “FYI†(Follow Your Instructor) time to learn the track and take some pointers from the rest of the group. The $50 test & tune session provided hot laps, learning laps, new-tire-heat-cycling laps, new-brake-pad/rotor-bedding laps, car-shakedown laps and most importantly some laps to shake all the cobwebs free after a 2-month hiatus from AI/CMC racing. John George's crew-chief for the weekend, Mark Tackman, brought along a keg of home brewed IPA beer on ice. As the sun went down and the track was closing, everyone enjoyed some of the best beers produced after the series directors completed tech inspections and logbook signings. With the paddock set up for the weekend's racing, the group headed out to Hooters on Hwy 20 for some "Three-Mile-Island" buffalo wings, adult beverages and some bench racing. Some would say that this dinner choice was a cruel tactic to keep certain competitors stationed closer to the port-a-potties on Saturday…but it didn’t work.


SATURDAY MORNING'S PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING SESSIONS brought some decent weather conditions in spite of the predictions of rain. With cooler weather than before, many wondered if the AI & CMC track records set by John George and Todd Covini in March would fall this weekend. Immediately following the driver's meeting at 0730, the AI & CMC racecars rolled out onto grid at 8 AM for their practice session. All Mustangs in the field took the first green flag of the weekend and were running lead follow at full race-pace for the entire practice session. Also in our closed-wheel race group was an ex-Elliot built ASA Thunderbird, a few Factory Five Cobras and a few Lotus Super 7s.




Image by Hart Photography.


The AI Camaros of Richard Dickey and David Love (ex-Mixon "Barney" car) unfortunately missed the morning's session due to other non-track-related issues. Adam Ginsberg discovered a broken gas pedal which split apart hampering full throttle "hammer down" action. To everyone's surprise, Adam did not waiver and pulled an entire spare gas pedal out of his trusty spare parts bin...who'd a thunk?


During the qualifying session later that morning, John George's 5.0 Resto Mustang ended up with the AI Pole position showing the fastest AI time to date for MSR with a 1:23.698. (Could he possibly repeat this laptime during a race to beat the current MSR track record of 1:23.704??? Only time would tell.) Mike Bell's BNS Mustang qualified fractions of a second from pole position with a 1:24.104! Richard Pederson's 3 Dog Racing Mustang and Richard Dickey's Dickey Racing Camaro qualified 3rd & 4th respectively in the 1:25 and 1:26 laptime range. In CMC, Todd Covini’s Mobil 1 Mustang took the CMC pole position with a 1:27.685 with Adam Ginsberg and Eric Varner qualifying 2nd and 3rd within a half second of pole position in the low 1:28 range.


SATURDAY"S RACE #1 was scheduled immediately after the lunch break. For many reasons, this particular weekend's races were not scheduled to be standing starts. With rolling starts on the agenda, and the instructions for a "slow 2nd gear rolling start", the American Iron racers represented approximately half of the cars in this Group 1 race. As the field of 15 cars slowly rounded the final turn, the green flag suddenly dropped early to everyone's surprise! Aside from the first 3 rows of cars, the back of the field was still scrubbing tires and preparing to enter the back straight only to find most of the field already gone! Eric Varner's CMC Mustang got the worse end of this deal starting behind a large gap of slower cars AND missing the green flag start. John George jumped to an early lead with Mike Bell, Richard Dickey and Richard Pedersen battling for 2nd. With some clean racing and a few position changes, the AI race #1 finished in that order. In CMC, Adam Ginsberg got a poor start from the sudden flag and fought cooling & ignition troubles the entire race. Todd Covini never looked back and took the CMC win finishing 7th overall with Eric Varner and Adam Ginsberg taking a close 2nd and 3rd respectively. Post race tech inspections found the top cars in compliance. During personal post racecar inspections, John George discovered a worn right front wheel bearing and replaced the hub before Race #2. Mike Bell found that his valve cover breather was pumping oil out onto his headers and the solution to his spilling fuel out the filler connection was a bad gas cap.


...part II next.....

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SATURDAY RACE #2 gridded the AI/CMC cars in the inverted finishing order from Race #1. This gave those chasing down the leader a chance to start in front of the person who beat them in Race #1. It was the final event of the day with the race starting at almost 5 PM. With a planned rolling start, the AI/CMC grid in order was now Ginsberg, Varner, Covini, Pedersen, Dickey, Bell and George. Competition license student David Armstrong was approved to start at the back of the field in his beautiful DACCP sponsored and CSD Custom Auto prepared AI Mustang. Flagman instructions were for a “late green flagâ€. Pole position driver instructions were to assure the field was bunched and slowed prior to coming onto the backstretch to prevent a reoccurrence of Race #1. When the green flag dropped, the sound of V8 thunder roared into Big Bend gaining full speed until Turn 1 and the entrance to rattlesnake. 2 by 2 cars went into the chicanes. Toward the back of the pack, usual front runners John George and Richard Dickey battled for position. With George’s Mustang on the inside and Dickey’s Camaro on the outside, Dickey slid off track and continued to advance. As the field exited “rattlesnakeâ€, Dickey’s Camaro returned on track ahead of John George, Mike Bell and David Armstrong. Now back in the pack of racers, Dickey raced into Turn 4 at the bottom of the hill. With Pedersen turning down at the apex in front of him and a Super 7 at Pederson’s right front, Dickey’s Camaro contacted Pedersen’s driver side rear wheel as they almost went three wide into the turn. Pedersen spun as Dickey and the rest of the field went on thru. After 20 minutes of sprint racing, it was John George taking the AI win with Bell and Pedersen rounding out the podium finish. In CMC, Todd Covini and Eric Varner exchanged positions for the lead with Varner out front until the closing laps of the race when a Varner mistake on the final lap of the race at the exit if “little bend†cost him the lead. Todd Covini took the CMC win with Varner and Ginsberg taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Adam Ginsberg's Kwik Kar Mustang appeared to still be having engine troubles. After the race, a worn alternator was replaced; the timing re-set and the car came back to life! Regarding the AI incident, protests were filed and Richard Dickey was disqualified from the race and will serve a three event probation for over-aggressive driving and contact involving the #91 Pedersen Mustang.


SATURDAY NIGHT DINNER was hosted by Dickey Racing in conjunction with Wickline Racing Transmissions and Texas Racewerks at their race shop in Granbury. All AI/CMC racers and future racers were invited to attend. The evening’s activities were slow to start due to the unfortunate racing incident and aftermath during Race #2. As the adrenaline and the crowds disappeared, most everyone headed up to Richard Dickey’s shop for some BBQ and tour of the drag racing, road racing and jet cars there. The camaraderie and sportsmanship of the group really shined following the day’s racing activities. Many thanks to Dickey Racing for hosting dinner for the group.


SUNDAY MORNING QUALIFYING was bright and early first thing in the morning at 0800. With cars on stands Saturday nite to rotate tires and take inventory of car conditions, it was time to go back into action. Richard Pedersen borrowed a set of John George's rear wheels/tires to replace the damaged one from yesterday's incident. On track, John George’s AI Mustang continued his streak of setting every pole position this season with a 1:24.93. Eric Varner qualified for the CMC pole position with a 1:28.77. Rookie David Armstrong cut a personal best 1:31.44 in his AI Mustang during this first weekend at Motorsport Ranch. With more camber and less weight, we expect to see David into the high 1:20’s at the next event. Unfortunately after Sunday’s qualifying, David Armstrong and fellow racer Eric Varner noticed a “wobbly†harmonic balancer which had apparently failed putting David on the trailer for the remainder of the weekend. Richard Dickey missed qualifying due to a failed rear axle wheel bearing after Saturday's race #2 that needed to be replaced. He would start Race #3 from the back of the pack.


SUNDAY'S RACE (#3) gridded George, Bell, Pedersen, Varner, Covini, Ginsberg and Dickey in that qualifying order. When the green flag dropped, the pack raced into turn 1 with the usual fervor. Richard Dickey pulled into pit immediately after taking the green flag with continued rear axle bearing troubles ending his weekend. John George slowly “stretched his legs†and began to pull from the pack with only Mike Bell staying within a half second of a lap behind John George. In CMC, Eric Varner was able to put himself ahead of slower traffic on Lap 1 leaving Adam Ginsberg and Todd Covini to race hard with a Factory Five Cobra. Adam took the lead over Todd going into rattlesnake and kept the lead over Covini while he worked to get past the Cobra lap after lap.





Image by Hart Photography.


Late in the race, Adam Ginsberg’s CSD Custom Auto Mustang was able to put the Cobra between himself and Todd Covini and appeared to lock up a solid 2nd place finish as the Ginsberg Mustang chased down Varner's Mustang. With Adam's car now running cooler & smoother, Eric Varner's CMC car began to misfire and cut out reducing his lead! With one lap to go, Ginsberg’s Kwik Kar Mustang came into Big Bend too hot as the car slowly washed out from underneath him. In the end, it was CMC’s Varner, Covini and Ginsberg for a 1-2-3 trophy race. Eric Varner had to be pushed back into the pits by Todd Covini's Mustang as it was later found that his TFI module had quit and the car would not run. Once again, the "open toolbox" policy for AI & CMC prevailed as someone had a spare TFI module to get Eric ready for Race #4.




L to R Mike Bell, John George & Richard Pedersen. Image by John George.





L to R Todd Covini, Eric Varner & Adam Ginsberg. Image by Adam Ginsberg.





SUNDAY'S RACE (#4) was gridded for a rolling start based upon finishing order of the previous Race #3. Again, this would give those that were battling for position another chance. With weekend attrition relatively high, only the top 3 points leaders in AI and CMC came to grid this early afternoon for the final Race #4. Ginsberg started on pole position followed by Covini, Varner, Pedersen, Bell and George and a mix of Super 7 and Cobras thrown in. When the green flag dropped, a lighter Super 7 jumped out front with Adam Ginsberg’s CSD Custom Auto Mustang and Todd Covini’s Mobil 1 Mustang hot in pursuit. As the three began hard braking for turn 1, Eric Varner shot to the front of the line on the inside in a bold late braking maneuver. Varner’s BNS Mustang was able to make it stick and took the race lead early in the race. The faster AI cars slowly picked their way up thru the field. John George's Mustang closed in on the CMC freight train of Varner, Covini & Ginsberg. As George came around Ginsberg to the left at the kink in Turn #10, Adam lifted to allow the John George Mustang the inside...only leaving Ginsberg's outside wide open for a Covini pass! Three wide thru the kink Adam was sandwiched with Todd Covini's Mobil 1 Mustang emerging with the 2nd place position until the back straight when John George's AI power motored into that position. With all the battles going on, Eric Varner was able to check out and take a sizeable lead on the other CMC cars. Covini put 2 wheels off with too much exit speed and lost ground to the Ginsberg CSD Custom Auto Mustang and the hard fought FFR Cobra. After the mid-point of the race, Varner came into Turn 1 too hot and looped his CMC car into the infield entrance to rattlesnake handing the lead to Adam Ginsberg. At the checkered flag it was Ginsberg, Covini and Varner taking the CMC podium finish and George, Bell and Pederson taking the AI podium finish. Many congratulations to Adam Ginsberg for making less mistakes than his competitors and taking home a well-deserved win during his rookie season, not to mention running the CMC fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:27.120!!!


For the few AI/CMC racecars that participated in this event, there are now 3 times as many cars built or being built for the series. Many of those folks were on hand this weekend to meet the group and lend a hand. We look forward to seeing the AI cars of Marshall Mosty, David Donovan, Robert King, Chris Lyons, Robert Carr as well as the CMC cars of Kent/Liebbe, Len Zazzarino, Johnny Reach and Glenn Landrum and many others in the coming months!!! Where are those ex-Bondurant cars, anyway??? NASA is growing in Texas!!!


...part III next.....

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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 AWARDS go to this weekend’s Camaro drivers David Love, Amber Love and Richard Dickey. David & Amber’s weekend started rough when their camper trailer tire blew out on the early morning drive up from Houston on Saturday morning. Father & Daughter were to arrive at MSR, complete the sale of “Barney†(Kevin Mixon’s former A-Sedan Camaro) and begin the competition licensing school. Arriving mid-morning, their new purple Camaro wasn’t cooperating with a fuel pump/regulator issue before the sale was even complete. Once corrected and running smoother, the factory power steering hose blew out while Amber was on track. All this, and other frustrations, during their first time HPDE weekend! The Loves showed great spirit and sportsmanship during adversity and never gave up. Amber showed drove smart and never over her head while out on track. We look forward to seeing the soon-to-be-renamed “Barney†back out there with us whether David or Amber is at the wheel.


Richard Dickey prepared his race shop all week to host over 50 people with food and drink on Saturday nite. Shop, Dinner and car preparations can be overwhelming in the days before an event. The best of goodwill intentions were unfortunately dashed when an incident on Saturday left Richard with a DQ, a damaged car, a failed axle bearing and an early weekend finish. Despite the disappointments, the party was put on as planned and everyone was still welcomed. We appreciate the hospitality and know that Dickey Racing will recover from this weekend and return for some fast, fun, challenging and clean races in the coming events.


PROFESSIONAL RACE PHOTOS were taken by Hart Photography throughout the weekend. As a participant of the event, if you would like to view and purchase your car photos on line, send an email to [email protected] with your car make, #, run group and the event date. Blair Hart will only post the cars that are requested of him.


To view yours and the other race photos from this event, go to http://www.hart-photography.com/MotorSports04/nasamsr2004.htm


Or the following amateur sites






1 1154 George (AI)

2 1010 Pedersen (AI)

3 885 Dickey (AI)

4 700 Bell (AI)

5 325 Covini (AI)

6 262 Donovan (AI)

7 155 Patterson (AI)

8 80 Armstrong (AI)

9 70 Johnson (AI)

10 70 Mixon (AI)

11 35 Manor (AI)

12 0 Mosty (AI)

13 0 Love (AI)

14 0 White (AI)

15 0 King (AI)

16 0 Kinman (AI)

17 0 Kuhn (AI)

18 0 Lyons (AI)

19 0 Costas (AI)

20 0 Carr (AI)



*** AI points per NASA GCR rule 22.1 and AI rule 10

100 for 1st...90 for 2nd...85 for 3rd, etc.

4 points for qualifying Pole position






1 790 Covini (CMC)

2 785 Varner (CMC)

3 765 Ginsberg (CMC)

4 0 Kent/Liebbe (CMC)

5 0 Zazzarino (CMC)

6 0 Bishop (CMC)

7 0 Tanner (CMC)

8 0 Casas (CMC)

9 0 McComb (CMC)

10 0 Landrum (CMC)

11 0 Reach (CMC)


***CMC points per CMC rule 9

100 for 1st...97 for 2nd...95 for 3rd, etc.

1 point for qualifying Pole position


2004 2nd ANNUAL TEXAS AI/CMC AWARDS BANQUET is tentatively being planned for the first or second Saturday in November with a central location TBD. Please pencil in these dates now as we know how fast calendars fill up. This awards banquet will be unique in that we will honor our 2004 season champions with their perpetual trophies that will be kept with each series champion with their accomplishment from year to year. We will also discuss any proposed or final series rules changes for the 2005 racing season. This is also a good time to voice any recommendations for the growth and improvement of the NASA AI & CMC program. If you plan to compete in the 2005 NASA Texas AI or CMC racing season, this is one meeting you won’t want to miss.


IN-CAR VIDEO TAPES- Start turning on those in-car tapes and capturing your season racing highlights. (I know I want to see Richard Pederson's front row seat of our June CMC Race #4 battle!) At the conclusion of the racing season in September, we plan to put together a compilation video of anyone's racing highlights to be played at the Annual Awards Banquet for current & future racers to see.


For more information, the following websites should be able to answer any

of your licensing/rules/racing questions:







Round 4 of NASA Texas AI/CMC racing will be on July 10th & 11th at Motorsport Ranch. Register now!!! This event will fill up fast!!!


If you still have questions, feel free to contact the following at any time!

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