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Old 02-18-2004, 01:49 AM   #1
wreckm
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American Iron

Okay have I been sleeping, when did we start an American Iron Southeast? What will that do to the Va. chapter of NASA if our NC buddies leave and go south! Will we have a runoffs as does SCCA? Just wandering as usual!
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Old 02-18-2004, 09:30 AM   #2
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LOL, who knows. I just want to see you in a suit again.
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Old 02-19-2004, 11:22 PM   #3
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HHHMMMMMM !!!

Sounds like this should be asked on a NATIONAL SCALE !!!

Wait it may have been, with no answer????

Maybe it needs to be asked again???

Or is AI itself going SOUTH !!!! How about NASAFOURUMS.COM

ANYBODY ???




Just an old nobody ???
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Old 02-19-2004, 11:46 PM   #4
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I was told NASA SE AI was a provisional series this year. There will be no points races this year in the SE. That came from NASA West Coast. Will may have saved those e-mails, I didn't. Welcome back James.
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Old 02-20-2004, 10:58 AM   #5
wreckm
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I just want to see you in a suit again.

I will show you the suit again the next time I get to see you dancing!!You are a man of many different talents. Good thing you can drive! Are you going to do any of the SE races?Are you going to make an appearance Sunday at VIR? James has a good point, I think someone needs to step up to the plate!
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Old 02-22-2004, 01:41 AM   #6
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I'll do Road Atlanta. That's a points race for AI East.
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Old 02-23-2004, 10:40 AM   #7
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AI southeast

Guys,

Just as a clarification, the southeast chapter of NASA WILL NOT have it's own series for at least one year. There will be three racing weekends for SE while the chapter gets started but there will no actuall SE series championship. Jim, I'm sure, have trophies for the individual events, though.

The reason that NASA has chosen to do it this way is so as not to dilute the current mass of AI competitors that are in the Va region. We were afraid that running two series would decrease the fields and that the momentum that the series has would be compromised. We think that AI can grow large enough this season that it can support respectable fields next year in each chapter and have HUGE fields for combination events between chapters.

Growth is great but we prefer it to be slow and steady (ie consistent). No competitor wants to build/campaign a car for thousands of $$$ and not be comfortable that the series won't be around or as strong for years to come. With growth there are growing pains, some of which I have seen first hand, but all here at NASA have a long term view of the organization and our series.

Peace,
Chris Cobetto
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Old 02-23-2004, 12:25 PM   #8
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ai southeast

Oops I forgot to add.

With regards to the runoffs type of event. Yes, this is in the cards and being worked on right now by NASA.

Where would you like to have them?

Chris
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Old 02-23-2004, 04:33 PM   #9
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I was told that there wouldn't be runoffs because of the induviduals running the different regions. None of the regional directors wanted to let "their" AI guys "leave" the region to race. I'm not flaming here Chris but that's what is going around.

While your here, will AI be going to VIR labor day weekend??
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Old 02-23-2004, 05:10 PM   #10
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This is the basic idea of how NASA and its series works.

Each chapter has or will have its own particular regional type of championship. It's not that we don't want to let the racers run outside the regions we just want to make sure that AI stays within NASA sanctioned events. There can't be a series without a chapter. If drivers want to pick a series to run in great. If they just want to check out a bunch of tracks without worrying about a series championship then thats cool too. All we are saying is that NASA series run at NASA events.

Toward the end of the year, those that have participated in a certain amount of events in the regions will be invited to the National Championship. Keep in mind that creating a National Championship event is not as easy as it sounds and we want to make sure we can make it work well for everyone because of the travel that some are going to have to do. As to whether this happens in 04 or 05 remains to be seen. The key is to have a good sponsor that can subsidize things like tow funds, etc. AI is now viewed by the sponsors as a strong entity because it has been around for a few years. The marketing guy at wilwood said that he had been watching the series for 3 years and now felt confident that we were here for the long haul. He wants to sponsor the series. We all have to just keep on the path and more good things will happen.

Stay tuned because we are offering the position of AI National Director to someone that has a passion for this series and has shown great dedication. This will allow more time for NASA national to put together programs like a national championship.

VIR? There are still some things that have to be worked out before there is a commitment, but...your Labor day BBQ will probably be started with race gas.

Peace,
Chris
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Old 02-23-2004, 08:46 PM   #11
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HHHHMMMM ???

That's strange I have heard alot different !!!

We had the guy at the helm of AI that could have taken it to a pro level and you guys run him off !!!!!
if not for his hard work AI wouldn't be even close to what it is today !!! It isa shame it has gone the route it has!!!

If NASA keeps things going the way they are they will run AI off too!!!

For example the champions of AI weren't even posted on the web site nor any where else??? If we are so important where is the publicity ??????

Some one is scared that "they" are going to loose a couple $$$.

As for the labor day thing. COME ON CHRIS TELL US THE TRUTH !!! PLEASE !!!!

I still think this needs to be on the national; website !! It all needs to be out in th open !!!!! The curtin needs to be pulled !!!

I'm not flaming either I just want the truth out in the open! I am also dissapointed IN A BIG WAY!!! I worked my ass off last season and I haven't gotten anything out of it other than being accused of cheating. No plaque, no publicity from NASA other than my name listed in grassroots.
GRIGGS has put my name in a couple magazines. I thought this was PRO racing. I realize we don't pay much to race but HELL NASA has made no attempt to advertise or even acknowledge my acomplishment. Heck it didn't even make our own website.

I'm not whining or tooting my own horn but what does our sponsors get out of helping or having contingincies if it is not published ????

just an old has been !!!
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:12 AM   #12
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Hoover,

You have a huge plaque that you didn't pick up at the awards ceremony on January 10th. We would have sent it out to you prior to the ceremony but I really thought you would be there. Happy to send it to you. I apologize for not having it out to you sooner. They are slated to go out this week. We are a small business and sometimes we just don't move as fast as what some people expect.

I always tell the truth about the information I have.

Pro Racing can mean many things. If you win contingency money or prizes you are, technically, a pro. If you are expecting AI to be pro in the Grand Am sense of the word then you have missed the idea of NASA and American Iron altogether. Road racing had two levels for a long time. There was the very amateur SCCA style racing (although some runoff budgets could be considered pro level) and then there was IMSA, Grand Am, ALMS and World Challenge on the very expensive pro side. NASA was designed to build a "middle class" of racing. NASA was also designed to bring the fun back into racing and help the amateur level driver to get maybe a little bit back for his efforts and potentially get some exposure that could be turned into sponsorship along the way. If ones annual racing budget is $250,000-$1,000,000 and you don't mind paying $750 on a regular basis for entry fees then NASA, as it currently exists, will probably not fit your tastes. If your annual racing budget is $10,000 to $50,000 and prefer a $225 -$250 entry fee then NASA probably will. Which "pro" level are you wanting AI to be?

As far as the champions not being listed. You are right and thank you for calling it to my attention in a public forum. The webmaster has had that information for a month. Unfortunately he is a volunteer and his real life has delayed him from posting it in a timely fashion.

As I write this I am dismayed at the tone that you take. You cannot just say "I'm just a country bumpkin" at the end of a statement and believe that gives you the right to disrespect someone else because you don't agree or don't understand decisions that are made. My mother raised me to be respectful, even if I didn't agree. I was taught to listen because even though I may go into an argument with one opinion the other person may have a good point that I hadn't thought of.

And just as an aside. I know you won that championship fair and square no matter what anyone says. Shuggy knows too. I have fun every time I get into a car on track. If you are not having fun as a racer with my organization I am truly sorry because I really try to have events that are fun. There is not a perfect sanctioning body or series out there. All of them come with their own issues. We are no exception. There were over 300 cars throughout this past weekend at VIR. I had students, instructors, Grand Am, ALMS, SCCA, SCCS and other "pro" driverl come to me and say that it was one of the finest run events that they had ever been to. I try to make everyone feel welcome. I'm sorry if you don't.

I will not respond any more to any posts with the same disrespecful and accusatory tone. If you would like to discuss issues positively I am always available.



Peace,
C
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Old 02-24-2004, 01:12 AM   #13
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I do not know most of you, I am not familiar with NASA or their rules and regulations but I do know this. Putting on an event is stressful. It takes a lot of time, energy, and stamina to put on any kind of track event. Oh, it looks easy but believe me, it isn't. It's worrying about this or worrying about that? Will the event be successful? will it pay for itself? will everyone have a good time?

Organizing and paying bills, collecting fees, depositing funds, putting together the right staff, and a hundred other things that go along with it.

I take my hat off to anyone who can put on a successful event and please the majority of the participants. Too many times many of the people that give you something you would not ordinarily have are not thanked enough, instead they have their flaws pointed out to them. (We got this last year at CMP) It's okay to be constructive but not to the point where the fun stops. Enjoy your series, enjoy your friendship, and thank the people that do this so that you have the opportunity to enjoy your vehicle and make new friends.

Thanks for your ear!
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Old 02-24-2004, 01:34 AM   #14
justagt
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Chris -

Maybe you can answer some of the questions that I had asked of the other officials, but was unable to get a clear answer on.

First off, I feel like the 'growing' of AI has hit a big brick wall due to some of the happenings of the off season. Some good things, like Jim tapping into a new market with the SE region and promoting AI, NASA, etc., and some bad things, such as the 'changing of the guard' with AI. I really felt like at this time last year that we were sitting on something special about to explode in popularity. Think about it.... AI East has only been around two years and we have tracks calling and asking us to race at their weekends.

I can't think of a way to ease into this so I will be blunt..... when did AI EAST become a VA region series, i.e. a series that only runs with that region. That is how is seems to be now. With Jim only having a few AI races, why not keep AI East as one group and race with his region instead of, for example, going to Summit Point four times? Can someone please answer that?

I guess I see it like this........ some will go to the SE region to run and some will run with VA. I think it will split to core group into two smaller groups. Some may do it due to less travel time, some will do it for variety and to drive a different track. But overall, it doesnt' do much to make AI look good. We would leave a much better impression with a 25 car field at every race than 10 here and then 12 there.

I understand this is a business for you and respect that. In fact I have given my part and still dont' have my instructor hat. But if NASA truly wants the sport to grow, how can they justify not going to the new, untapped markets to show everyone what we are all about. Then, from a driver stand point, IMHO, it keeps it more interesting than going to the same place 4 times.

I know tracks are hard to get and schedule and I know the I keep mentioning Summit, but 4 trips up there is over 60 hours of driving for us NC folk. I know a common response to that may be 'well, then dont' go' but that really isnt' good business. Please understand that I am not trying to take away from you and the VA region.

Also, we had an advertisement and schedule in Grassroots last year. Can we expect the same this year under new management?

You mention sponsors for a national runoff. Who would get these sponsors? I had a chance to be the AI Director for the SE region, but mainly dur to time restraints I wasn't able to. Also, to be honest, I didn't want to deal with some of the political crap that I have seen in NASA. Kind of back to my question.... since directors can't get sponsors and series directors can't get them, who would? The west coast national guys? Fine, but I know for a fact that they were sent info weeks ago about some parties showing interest in sponsoring AI SE and nothing has happened with it.

The national director thing is a neat idea, but really, what kind of decision making ability would he have, no matter how dedicated or devoted he is? Besides, I think we should fix everything on a smaller scale before they talk about a national runoff.

Oh, I think my membership ran out. Do they send me an email or do I just go to the main site and renew?

Finally, I understand that this is a business for many involved. BUT at this point in the series, I feel like that we are being robbed of some of the chances we the series have to promote ourselves. The best example I can think off is racing at Watkins Glen. I know it isn't a NASA region event, but it is a new market that hasn't seen us and a great way to promote the series. We need to take every chance we have to make it grow and we aren't 'allowed' to. I know some may feel robbed of money by us doing that, but it is a great opportunity for the series and for NASA. This isn't about the short term. It is about the long term. Even at a place like the Glen, we still have our NASA patches, logos, stickers, and AI banner hanging up promoting AI and NASA. I just find it hard to believe that the series and even NASA would turn that down when you look at the long term gains from it.

Just curious on your thoughts.
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Old 02-24-2004, 04:01 AM   #15
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First of all, I'm sorry about the hat. I have many now and new t-shirts too. Email me and we'll get those out to you. I really appreciate your candor and questions. I keep hearing from third parties about grievences out there in the AI community but to date not one person has called or email me with questions.

We DO have something special, but growth doesn't come without some growing pains. I saw this with Honda Challenge last year but, we got things cleaned up and this year looks to be very promising. People just have to hold the course and be patient. Road Racing sucks in the US because too many egos think they have the right idea. All it ends up doing is sending more money to NASCAR.

As far as sponsors go. I have been trying to sell sponsorships since I started with NASA in 99. NASA's growth is making it easier but it is still difficult. The national office actively pursues sponsorships but NASA is just now getting big enough to be taken seriously. Think about the mainstream sponsors you see on cars in Grand AM or ALMS....it's pretty tough itsn't it because there are almost none...and they are on TV. Even so we are looking at several structures of how best to get sponsors.

The misunderstanding is that AI is under new management. Dan Schlickenmeyer is still the rep. and may shortly have greater responsibilities. I know that there is talk out there but let's just say it is easier to change tires than to build a whole car.

All NASA series are designed to support a chapter. You are correct in that this is a business. Starting a chapter is generally a six figure proposition. It is a business with particularly low margins so volume is key. Any sane man would not take this on. I do it because it is a labor of love but in order to make a reasonable living at this one needs to have 8-10 events per year with the series participating in each one or the majority.

Our belief is that racers at this level only have a certain budget that, on average will allow them to run about 8 race weekends. If a chapter needs 8 good events to feed itself but a series only decides to run 4 of those events the overall equation doesn't work.

Last year Dan asked me for a portion of the already low entry fee to help build the series. I trusted Dan and believed in the concept so I agreed. I took less per entry so that AI could grow. When VIR called me to run at Grand Am I called Dan first. Now I am the bad guy because I stuck to the deal and everyone didn't get back $100 but please understand the situation I faced. I was taking a great risk. VIR had extended the offer so late that I had only about 5 days before I had to sign on the dotted line for an event that would cost me into 5 figures, where I had to guarantee 35 entries to the track and do so at a time that was late in the season with championships almost already decided and much of the racer's budget's spent. I also knew that this event would make the regular NASA va events surrounding it suffer. As it turns out,( and I won't get into specific financials because I DO have competitors) if you take the average total entry that AI represented in a regular NASA weekend and multiply by two (CMP and SP) then subtract the ACTUAL net for (cmp, vir and sp) it was a loss. The only way I could justify the loss was to say it was good for the AI series but the truth of the matter is that for the money it was a bad marketing decision. That money could have been spent in many other places that would yield, statistically better exposure. Was it cool to run at Grand Am? Sure, but if looked at from a hard marketing view it was the wrong decision. The same concept applies to having the series run outside of NASA. The Glen is not a new area. NASA NE has existed up there for years but they just can't get dates at the tracks because there are so few and the weather limits the season. The loss represented to the home chapter, in my opinion, does not justify the name recognition of patches on suits or stickers on cars and besides, what other sanction wants to help grow a competing sanction? IF NASA NE can't get dates then who does name recognition help?

I am the bad guy with regards to VIR grand am, but let me ask you this. Do you believe the AI group would have gotten together and made up the loss that I would have incurred had it not gone well. My guess is no and I wouldn't have expected them to.

The decision about the SE chapter is not one that was done unilaterally. Jim Pantas agreed that things have to build slowly and fully understands the deal.

AI East has really always been the VA series by default. We just had to clarify it when the new chapters were coming on board. NASA-VA carried the NASA torch on the east coast for two years (at some cost) and were the only guys in town until Ohio came on the scene and now the SE. While I encourage new chapters and help them with equipment and advice it is only now, after close to five years of managing events that we are seeing return on a pretty substantial initial investment. It is a delicate balance I would hope that no one would begrudge me making my investment back and creating a living for myself.

The Glen is cool. I love to race there but without a healthy chapter a healthy series is not possible. I believe in giving savings to the racer in the form of lower entry fees. We could raise the fees and spend more on marketing but I think the best marketing is word of mouth and reasonable rates. We are at about $112.50 per hour of track time for racers and you get two races per weekend so the overall cost per race goes down because travel and hotel are fixed for the weekend. If you compare that with the DC region of the SCCA at $195 per weekend with only one race and about one hour of track time NASA is a pretty good deal.

With regards to SP. I gotta go where I can get dates. Charlotte was not well attended overall and it is REALLY expensive. CMP is not well attended either. I can't be expected to have dates that are losses and then watch a group that got it's start because of my chapter go elsewhere. That is just pushing on the margins too hard.

We are very long term minded but there is no long term with out some successful short term. The long term view is that we build killer regional series and then once the critical mass has formed, move to national championships. This stuff just takes a long time. You guys have to be patient.

Remember too that I love all my series. I have to think about what is best for everyone. Contrary to some peoples opinion, I have no favorites.


I understand if you disagree with me. That's cool. I have to make decisions with the information I have go with it. Some will get it, some won't . Most don't care and just want to go race.

I agree with the guy that posted just prior to you. Let's just have some fun.


Peace,
Chris
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