May 13, 2006

Road racing is a grueling sport that can push man and machine beyond the brink of rational control. Still, the allure of hurtling yourself into a corner at twice the national speed limit has an intoxicating attraction to thousands of Mustang enthusiasts all over the country. From that grassroots energy, several sanctioning bodies have been born. The decade-old American Iron series has taken the motorsports world by storm. Offering a number of events with regional segregation for several different class levels, AI has something for every level of Mustang road-race racer, and most importantly it is friendly to the various aftermarket suspension upgrades available for these cars.

The coasts have their champions, but if you race in the AI series in the Midwest, you have to get through Paul Faessler and his amazingly talented teammate, Greg Brown. Paul has spent a lifetime racing all forms of Ford machines in various road-racing venues, with his customers ranging from casual hobbyists to national record holders. While we've written much and covered plenty about Paul's exploits with drag-race Mustangs, it's on the road course that his genius truly shines. As for Greg, Paul spotted his talents when he walked in the door with his '86 notchback in tow.

"Greg ran with a rookie license through half of 2004," Paul tells us. "Why is he such a good driver? He's committed to winning with a road-race car. He is mechanically inclined enough to keep a car together for a whole season, and he'll do whatever it takes to win. Greg is an aggressive driver-he has not much fear. And, he has a lot of natural talent."

With that drive and talent, Greg entered a partnership with Paul, who would serve as mentor and tuner from his Paul's Automotive Engineering performance shop. Part of the challenge the team faced was the rules of AI, which can sometimes be tough to navigate. Based on horsepower and torque per pound, each car is measured for power on a Dynojet and scaled for weight at each event. One of the secrets to both cars' success is that Paul developed an engine program that matched the other teams in power, but kept a nice, flat torque curve where others fell off or were simply peaky.

The team hit the '04 season with an immediate impact on the AI class. Greg captured 10 poles and won an amazing 5 events to win his first championship in AI. Three of those wins came with Greg at the back of a 40-car field. Meanwhile, Paul was focused on using Greg's coupe in competition in the Midwest Endurance Championship. Of five races, Paul won three, finished third once, and sat out the last race because he had already wrapped things up for the championship.

Where does the white GT fit into the picture? Paul has used the car to compete in AI-sometimes against Greg-but, the car has also served as a backup ride for Greg when the blue coupe lost a transmission during competition. Greg hopped into the white car and blazed to victory with a car he had never been in.

As the '05 AI season rages on, the competition has just gotten tougher, especially since Greg made the move to the American Iron Extreme class-designed for those with unlimited power. Paul and his crew are busy assembling a new combination to keep Greg in the front of the pack, and both racers are doing a great job representing the Ford racing community against some tough teams. At this point (mid-season '05) Greg has won all five races.