American Iron Race Report — Carolina Motorsports Park, April, 2003
Bryan Shugg won the first AI East race of the 2003 season in his Maximum Motorsports-equipped 1998 Cobra. The season-opener was held at Carolina Motorsports Park in South Carolina on Saturday, April 4, with 16 cars taking the green flag.
Saturday's AI pole was taken by Bryan Shugg. The drop of the green flag saw Shugg jump out to an early lead. Brian Smith, James Hoover, and Lester Lesneski ran close to Shugg for a time. Shugg continued to pull away and would go on to win by almost 20 seconds. Brian Smith, in only his third race, drove to an impressive second place finish in the strong AI field. After a race-long battle, Jim Pantas, in his Maximum Motorsports-equipped 1986 Mustang, came out ahead of a fading Lesneski to claim second place in AIX.
Bryan Shugg opted out of Sunday's AI race in favor of co driving with Jack Hidley in an MM-equipped 1987 Mustang. Check out the details at Open Track Challenge, April 6-12, 2003.
In Sunday's race Lesneski was the class of the field and was not to be passed all race long. Jim Pantas, in his MM-equipped Mustang, finished a strong second in AIX. He was followed to the line by rookie Will Sadler who had just earned his license that Friday! The final running order in AIX would show Lesneski coming home in first, followed by Pantas, Sadler, Killian, Swain, Henkel, Jones and Schlickenmeyer.
The initial round for NASA's American Iron East series was an unqualified success. A 16-car field for the first race of the season was an impressive turnout. The racing was close and the fan support tremendous. One of the more encouraging aspects of the weekend was the emergence of a strong group of rookies. This bodes well for the series, and shows that American Iron is attracting quality drivers and equipment.