Scott Lear
Scott Lear
4/2/18 1:10 p.m.

Complexity is a silent demon that lurks in every race car, waiting to thwart drivers at the worst possible moment. It lives in the tiers of ultra-impressive go-fast components and impossibly precise gizmos that are designed to bring track machines to the razor’s edge of absolute performance.

Unfortunately, the more finely honed this edge, the steeper the drop-off when something gets even a little bit out of whack. Drivers who wind their cars too tightly in the pursuit of performance have no one to blame but themselves when things come crashing down.

In many classes, the rules feature page after page of restrictions that prevent drivers from succumbing to this sinister urge to overcomplicate their race cars. NASA’s American Iron Extreme is absolutely not one of those classes.

In its simplest terms, an AIX car can be any 1960 or newer front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, American-made sedan that weighs at least 2700 pounds. Oh, and the power-to-weight ratio has to be less than 9.5 pounds per horsepower.

It’s important to pay careful attention to that last bit: less than 9.5 pounds per horsepower. A 2700-pound car with a hypothetical 1000 ponies equals 2.7 pounds per horsepower—hey, that’s less than 9.5 by a pretty good margin.

AIX is not a class for timid drivers. Need a performance benchmark? An uncorked NASCAR Sprint Cup racer has to lug around 4 pounds for each of its 850 horsepower.

California’s Ernesto Roco has been part of the American Iron series since its inception in 2001, and he moved up to the top-tier AIX class after four years. Ernesto’s 1998 Ford Mustang is frequently the fastest AIX car at any given track, but that doesn’t mean he’s cuckoo for horsepower. In fact, his reason for running in the nearly unrestricted AIX class is, almost paradoxically, based on budget restrictions rather than outright speed.

“The big reason I switched is I thought it was just as expensive to tune the car to an optimum horsepower-to-weight ratio as it was to just tune the car for maximum naturally aspirated horsepower,” he explains. “I wanted to let the creative juices flow and build the car faster, make it more fun to drive.”

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Driven5
Driven5 SuperDork
4/2/18 3:08 p.m.

 ...I’m really convinced that you only need to put down as much horsepower as you need to drive the car at ten-tenths.

I know that the Mark Donohue "spin the tires at the end of the straightaway in high gear" philosophy is popular to banter about, but this is the truer answer.  It just so happened that for Mark Donohue, the two were one and the same...For the rest of us who do not operate on that plane of existence though, the unfortunate reality is that they are not.

It's great to see somebody so competitive in a big-power class outwardly recognize this concept in that context.

ccwebb
ccwebb
4/2/18 4:35 p.m.

A blast from the past! I followed Ernesto's meteoric rise up to and through his sponsorship with Agent 47. Then I saw his car for sale and apparently he stopped racing...? That was probably six or seven years ago now. There are / were some great videos of him racing his Agent 47 sponsored car on their site and on YouTube. Worth a look!

rjstanford
rjstanford New Reader
4/3/18 8:20 a.m.

Great build!  Reminds me a lot of a build thread I've been watching about Ryan's Miata - bone stock LFX, nicely prepped Miata, probably all of 300rwhp on E85, and setting track records.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
4/3/18 9:13 a.m.

Oh, and the power-to-weight ratio has to be less than 9.5 pounds per horsepower.

It’s important to pay careful attention to that last bit: less than 9.5 pounds per horsepower. A 2700-pound car with a hypothetical 1000 ponies equals 2.7 pounds per horsepower—hey, that’s less than 9.5 by a pretty good margin.

A minimum horsepower limit?  That is confusing.

I think its a max hp of 9.5lb/horsepower.  So a 2700lb car can only have 284hp.

According to wikipedia:

 CMC, CMC-II, and AI classes have a power to weight limitation, while AIX is unrestricted.

mistanfo
mistanfo UltraDork
4/4/18 6:20 a.m.

No, AIX is unrestricted, but power to weight below 9.5hp/lb. drops you into AI.

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan SuperDork
4/4/18 12:44 p.m.

A coupe is a sedan?  Anyhoo if I had to go to a road race this year I think this is a class I would want to see/feel/breathe and above all enjoy. smiley

Actually I spent two more seconds of brain power to think about sedan/coupe and now my brain kinda hurts. laugh 

A Rover P5B was a coupe.  A sedan can become a coupe or just a two door.  Can a coupe become a sedan?

Brief google search result.

Let's please not start on the infamous GRM liftback/hatchback wars of nearly a decade ago now. cheeky

Now off to search AIX.  Does it still exist?  I shall find out. yes

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