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NASA Texas CMC & AI Racing - Round #4 @ MSR Writeup, w/p

Adam Ginsberg

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Part I


Weekend Racing Recap - 9-11 July 2004





July 26, 2004


NASA TEXAS AI/CMC Series Sparks Fly at Motorsport Ranch!!!


AI & CMC cars from all over Texas converged on the 1.7 mile road course called Motorsport Ranch just outside the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for the third time this NASA Texas racing season on the weekend of July 10 & 11. What started out to look like the unluckiest weekend of 2004 racing season proved to be the best Texas AI/CMC weekend to date!!!



+ 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!

+ 8 American Iron cars.

+ 3 CMC cars.

+ 2 Competition Licensing students working towards AI competition.

+ 1 Camaro

+ 12 Mustangs

+ 4 Pole Position qualifiers – Wayne Manor (AI)…John George (AI)…Todd Covini (CMC)…Eric Varner Race #2 (CMC)

+ 5 winners for the weekend - John George (AI)...Wayne Manor 2X (AI)…Mike Bell (AI)…Todd Covini (CMC)…Eric Varner (CMC)

+ 1 track record fell (CMC- 3 times)!

+ 2 F-body fires (No. They weren’t Firebirds!)

+ Minimal mechanicals and no attrition for the racing weekend with only an ignition problem, a starter problem, a bent exhaust system and some other minor issues.

+ Consistent top lap times were in the mid- 1:23s for AI and high 1:26s for CMC with Wayne Manor posting the fastest AI time ever at MSR during qualifying with a 1:22:66.

+ John George and Wayne Manor raced door to door in multiple AI races that backup means had to be utilized to determine the winner most of the weekend. Eric Varner was the CMC car to beat all weekend posting 3 CMC wins and a pole position.

+ Safe, fun weekend with no body damage, no driver infractions and no issues.


FREAKY FRIDAY SCHEDULE brought some of the “UN-Happiest†events for a lot of people simply trying to make their way to the track for “Happy Hour†practice and preparing for the weekend’s racing action.

1) American Iron’s point leader John George wrestled with a complete rewiring project on his 5.0 RESTO Mustang with Chad White’s assistance only to find it not running properly on Friday morning. A last minute call to internet personality Lewis Tanner hooked the JG Mustang up with a Painless wiring kit which would not be completely installed until 2AM on race day.

2) AI’s Marshall Mosty brought his newly painted AI Mustang out to test while his brother Michael Mosty ran his Trans Am during Happy Hour until a hydraulic clutch fire ruined his day and his car.

3) AI’s Robert King ran a backup car in practice until his AI project Mustang and tow truck get completed only to have a tire go down on his Audi daily driver.

4) AI’s David Donovan got 30 minutes away from his home with race car in tow only to have the transmission on his tow vehicle start giving out and “bleeding†all over the road. Some last minute phone calls and an extremely supportive wife eventually got him into a rental truck and out to the track.

5) CMC’s Todd Covini had Friday nite engagements which lasted longer than anticipated. Loading the racecar at midnight and departing Houston at 4 AM, the 300+ mile trek was completed in time for the driver’s meeting Saturday morning.

6) HPDE/Licensing school student Robert Casas, with his bright orange Bondurant Mustang, got into a minor fender-bender while in transit to MSR. After the incident, a fellow racer stopped to lend assistance, and reminded Robert to check his tie-downs….and discovered his car had come loose! Fortunately, he re-tied the car down, and continued onto MSR without further incident.




Picture by Lewis "honkey lips" Tanner


SATURDAY MORNING'S PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING SESSIONS brought some clear and sunny weather conditions. Again, many wondered if the AI & CMC track records set by John George and Todd Covini in March would fall this weekend. The new NASA Texas Race Director Clifton Winkleman introduced himself and set the weekend expectations for a fun and safe weekend. Immediately following the mandatory driver's meeting at 0830, the AI & CMC racecars rolled out onto grid at 9 AM for their practice session.


During the qualifying session later that morning, Wayne Manor’s Mustang ended up with the AI Pole position posting the fastest AI time to date for MSR with a 1:22.660. Also beating his own track record during this qualifying session, John George cut a 1:23:268. Richard Pedersen’s 3 Dog Racing Mustang qualified fractions of a second from pole position with a 1:23:954 for his fastest AI lap time to date! Among the other AI competitors, Chris Lyons brought out his new Championship AI Mustang prepared by Maximum Motorsports for the first time in competition. Chris cut a 1:27:187 and steadily improved on that for the remainder of the weekend. Robert Carr’s ex-A-Sedan Camaro qualified within a half second of that in his first MSR experience.


In CMC, Pole Position was a draw!!! Todd Covini and Eric Varner BOTH posted 1:26:890 lap times. Only until after Race #1 and another decimal place could it be determined that Covini’s Mobil 1 Mustang won the Pole Position by a thousandth of a second!!! Adam Ginsberg missed the qualifying session and would start Race #1 from the back of the pack.


SATURDAY’S LUNCH AND MID-SEASON SERIES REVIEW was conducted in the John George trailer. A new tradition in Texas AI/CMC racing was started with our group BBQ/luncheon being held with plenty of food shared with everyone in the AI/CMC paddock. Many thanks to Sylvia Manor for coordinating the BBQ and food activities!!!


In addition to getting to know everyone in the series and add to the camaraderie, Series Director Todd Covini took this time to recap where Texas AI/CMC racing has been and where the series is going this year and beyond. 3 Major topics were discussed. 1) This weekend’s AI/CMC racing and clarifications for the many first-timers 2) The 2004 AI/CMC Season and 3) The rulebook including an overview of the NASA organization.


A few of the important outcomes of this mid-season review were to ensure everyone understands of:


a) Best 15 races would count toward the championship despite a discussion surrounding the given # of races per weekend, the # of races per season and the intent to only drop 1 weekend’s worth of racing. It was agreed that a % of races may be a better way to work it next year.

b) Difference between NASA directors and Series directors. NASA directors steward the NASA rules. Series directors steward the series rules with an effort to grow and guide the series. NASA rules will be enforced by NASA officials…Series rules will be enforced by Series officials. Driver conduct and any on-track infractions will be dealt with by NASA.

c) Tech inspections, post race impound and rules enforcement needs to step up. With a record high entry list of American Iron racers in Texas present at the track, it was obvious to all that we need to enforce the rules better to ensure a level playing field. Discussion of sealing hoods, computers and requesting dyno recertifications took place.


Continued on next post.....

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SATURDAY"S RACE #1 brought the 2 fastest AI cars to the front row to lead the pack for a rolling start. John George and Wayne Manor battled side by side for nearly the entire first lap with neither one giving an inch of position ground to the other. Mike Bell battled Richard Pederson with Pedersen applying as much pressure on Bell as possible until Bell’s Mustang went off at the entrance of Rattlesnake. Spins and off-road excursions seemed to be at an all-time AI high on this Saturday with the Mustangs of Chris Lyons, David Donovan, David Armstrong, Adam Ginsberg, Eric Varner and Camaro of Robert Carr also having their fair share of kicking dirt up off course.


In CMC, Todd Covini, Eric Varner and Adam Ginsberg battled with near-equal HP/TQ for the first lap. Slower traffic separated Adam Ginsberg from the pack and Covini and Varner battled back and forth. Mid-way thru the race Varner had a run on Covini coming into Big Bend until Covini closed the door at the apex forcing Varner to take evasive maneuvers. The result was a bumper to bumper contact resulting in no damage and no loss of position as Varner spun. Todd Covini went on to take the CMC win with Varner and Ginsberg taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.


Towards the end of the race the yellow flag came out when Robert Carr’s AI Camaro had ignition troubles killing the engine and sidelining him in the grass near Turn #5. The Texas heat and dry grass didn’t agree with where he pulled off and the field area began to catch fire. David Armstrong was in the hunt for 6th place when he pulled his Griggs Mustang off to assist with the firefighting efforts with his own extinguisher.


In the end, John George took the AI win in a photo finish with Wayne Manor with Richard Pedersen rounding out the podium finishes. Behind them in AI were Bell, Lyons, Donovan, Armstrong and Carr.


SATURDAY RACE #2 gridded the AI/CMC cars in the inverted finishing order from Race #1. With a rolling start, the AI/CMC grid now was Carr, Armstrong, Donovan, Ginsberg, Varner, Covini, Lyons, Bell, Pedersen, Manor and George. When the green flag dropped, the sound of V8 thunder roared toward Turn 1. David Donovan held off an early lead until briefly putting 2 wheels off in Rattlesnake allowing most of the field to come around. CMC’s Eric Varner took the lead over ahead of Adam Ginsberg with Covini caught in traffic. As Richard Pedersen worked his way up thru the inverted field, he went 2 wide with Ginsberg on numerous occasions and battled the Varner CMC car until ultimately taking the lead for 3 laps. Todd Covini, Chris Lyons and Adam Ginsberg fought for position for many laps until an Adam Ginsberg spin took him out of contention. Shortly thereafter, Chris Lyons spun and Covini’s CMC Mustang was able to advance further but never catch the Mustang of Eric Varner. David Donovan and David Armstrong raced each other posting consistent lap times within 1 second of each other. Both of these rookies are on the same learning curve and they are fighting to see who is going to “get there†fastest! In the final third of the race, the faster Mustangs of Wayne Manor and John George worked their way up to the front. Manor was able to lead the race for 6 laps while he, John George and Richard Pedersen battled for first with Manor eventually taking the win. AI Finishing order was Manor, George, Pedersen, Lyons, Donovan and Armstrong. In CMC it was Varner, Covini and Ginsberg. Mike Bell did not start this race due to heat exhaustion and Robert Carr did not start due to his ignition and subsequent fire troubles from Race #1.


SATURDAY NIGHT DINNER was held at “that Mexican place past Hwy 20 on the rightâ€. All AI/CMC racers, family and friends were invited to attend. With “Dinner for 20â€, the camaraderie and sportsmanship of the AI/CMC group really shined following the hot day’s racing activities. The margaritas were cold and the jalapeños were hot!!! Most everyone was ready to call it a night after 2 hectic days of summer racing activities.


SUNDAY MORNING QUALIFYING was bright and early first thing in the morning at 0800.




Picture by Adam Ginsberg


A last minute driver’s meeting was called to address the heat, fire and safety crew work issues from the prior day. When the cars rolled off, John George’s Griggs Racing Mustang resumed his streak of pole positions this season with a 1:24.04. Eric Varner qualified for the CMC pole position with a 1:27.35. David Armstrong and David Donovan continued their quest for lower lap times cutting a 1:28:84 and 1:28:11 respectively.


SUNDAY'S RACE (#3) gridded George, Manor, Pedersen, Bell, Varner, Lyons, Donovan, Armstrong, Ginsberg, Covini and Carr in that qualifying order. When the green flag dropped, the pack raced into turn 1 side by side with the front 6 cars staying side by side for the entire lap!!! This was some of the closest racing we’ve seen all year. Mike Bell got loose coming out of Turn 3 and ended up in the infield as Wayne Manor took the lead. John George didn’t stand for 2nd very long as he passed the Manor Mustang under braking at the end of the front straight. As Manor and George battled, Pedersen waited for a clean hole to take his momentum thru. Pedersen managed to take 2nd away from Manor in Turn 5 and hold on to it until the front straight when Manor’s superior HP could take over.




Picture by Hart Photography.


As these three battled fiercely, Mike Bell set the fastest time of the race trying to make his way back up the field. Robert Carr apparently got his troubles out of the way and set his fastest time of the weekend with a 1:27:022. In CMC, Eric Varner and Todd Covini battled back and fourth for position with Varner ultimately taking the win followed by Covini and Ginsberg. In AI it was Manor, George, Pedersen, Bell, Carr, Donovan, Armstrong, and Lyons.


SUNDAY'S RACE (#4) was gridded for a rolling start based upon finishing order of the previous Race #3. Yet another Texas AI/CMC tradition began just before this race. During Sunday’s routine paddock BBQ lunch (thanks Mrs. Manor and Mrs. George) the group agreed that a “Butterfly Test†or “BFT†would be appropriate in the hot pits at the exact moment the starter gave us the “3 minute†hand signal before heading out on track. A “BFT†is a test of the butterflies in each AI/CMC driver, spectator and corner worker. The test is conducted by all American Iron cars revving their V8 engines to redline in quick succession at the same time for approximately 15 seconds. This tests the vehicle’s throttle body butterflies as well as everyone’s stomach butterflies as the sound of 15 to 20 high HP American V8’s let’s everyone know we’re heading out on track now! The BFT caught some people off-guard, made some people laugh and overall was loved by all that were there!!! Look for the BFT at future Texas AI/CMC races!!!


Chris Lyons started on pole position followed by Armstrong, Donovan, Ginsberg, Carr, Covini, Bell, Varner, Pedersen, George and Manor. When the green flag dropped before Big Bend, Mike Bell used his horsepower to shoot thru the inverted field emerging on the inside near the front of the pack before turn 1. Chris Lyons was able to use his track experience to lead the race for 2 laps and hold off the field. Unfortunately, this being only his second day in competition with his new car, it got away from him and a spin handed the lead over to Mike Bell who never looked back. The Bell BNS Racing Mustang led the remaining 12 laps and took his first 2004 AI win of the season. In CMC, Eric Varner gambled with weight and won. Race weight following the first race left him over 50lbs heavy and with a half tank of fuel. Taking the “fuel mileage†challenge, Varner did not refuel before Race #4 hoping that the reduced weight would help get him to the front. The gamble paid off as the CMC cars of Covini & Ginsberg could not catch Varner as he took the checkered flag. Manor, George and Pedersen battled side by side in the same fierce fashion as the previous races with Pedersen taking away 3rd place many times. In the end, the race results posted Bell, Manor, George, Pedersen, Carr, Varner, Covini, Donovan, Ginsberg, Armstrong and Lyons in that order.


Continued on next post.....

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CONCLUSION- Corner workers came up to the directors after the race and stated (quote) “This AI/CMC racing is the whole reason why we come out to the track and stand out there in the heat all weekend long…it’s to see exciting racing like that!!!â€


SAFETY NOTE- From the eyes and experiences of many people this month (Michael Mosty, Robert Carr, David Armstrong and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) please make sure your fire safety gear is all in top condition and at the best level for your personal protection. This includes nomex driver suits, nomex lined SA rated helmets, baklavas, underwear, secure and charged fire extinguishers and all other fire protection. You never know when you are going to need it, and the last thing you want is to wish you had it if that time comes!!!!



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

MSR 1:26:187 Todd Covini (CMC) 7/11/04


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 all those who had a very tough time on the way to or at the track Friday. A special Hard Luck Award goes out to Robert Carr who battled more than one issue including a minor fire with his car over the weekend and eventually had a strong finish on Sunday due to hard work, a great attitude and tons of perseverance!!!


POST RACE IMPOUND AND DYNO RECERTIFICATIONS were conducted following the final race of the July MSR weekend. The Series Directors sealed the hoods and engines of all winning cars from this weekend. The racecars of John George, Wayne Manor, Mike Bell, Todd Covini, Eric Varner and Adam Ginsberg are required to recertify their dyno #s in the presence of a Series Director before their next event. In addition, all AI/CMC vehicle EECs on all competitor cars were sealed and made tamperproof. Altered EECs will simply require a new dynosheet to verify power levels.




Picture by Eric Varner




Picture by Eric Varner




1 1523 George (AI)

2 1345 Pedersen (AI)

3 960 Bell (AI)

4 885 Dickey (AI)

5 547 Donovan (AI)

6 419 Manor (AI)

7 357 Armstrong (AI)

8 325 Covini (AI)

9 291 Lyons (AI)

10 218 Carr (AI)

11 155 Patterson (AI)

12 70 Johnson (AI)

13 70 Mixon (AI)

14 0 Costas (AI)

15 0 King (AI)

16 0 Kinman (AI)

17 0 Kuhn (AI)

18 0 Love (AI)

19 0 Mosty (AI)

20 0 White (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 1183 Varner (CMC)

2 1182 Covini (CMC)

3 1145 Ginsberg (CMC)

4 0 Zazzarino (CMC)

5 0 Kent/Liebbe (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



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

of your licensing/rules/racing questions:







Round 5 of NASA Texas AI/CMC racing will be on August 14 & 15 at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Register now at http://www.nasaproracing.com


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


Todd Covini

NASA Texas

AI & CMC Director

713-758-5249 days

713-252-3465 cell


Adam Ginsberg

NASA Texas

AI & CMC Asst. Director

972-621-5702 days

214-505-2921 cell

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Nice write up you guys.

One thing, I would suggest that A/I should be running under the CMC points guide,as this would make the class much more even and competitive as far as points go.

Also, do you use the 80% rule at the end of the year with throw outs?

Todd knows this works very well, just look at how close we all are on the West Coast, as the championship is still anyones to take as of now.

Great job guys!

Tony Guaglione

CMC National Director

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