AI: Richard Pedersen - NASA interview

Engineer on the Track... An interview with Richard Pedersen, National Auto Sports Association runner-up champion, American Iron - SouthWest, Texas Interview by Skip Smith The following is my conversation with Richard Pedersen, whom is a real ...

Engineer on the Track... An interview with Richard Pedersen, National Auto Sports Association runner-up champion, American Iron - SouthWest, Texas
Interview by Skip Smith

The following is my conversation with Richard Pedersen, whom is a real technical individual that has the ability to design and implement his own ideas to his race car. He is one of the original American Iron (AI) drivers in the Texas region and has been called upon to review engineering and technical rules due to his knowledge of the AI rules to not only tech, but assist with rule disputes.

Richard has teamed up with Chris Marvel whom has been his "developmental driver" over the years. Chris is one that has the ability to drive a horrible car well and give great feedback that Richard can understand and right the car.

It was a very interesting visit, if nothing else, I know that the time spent with both Richard and Chris was well worth the investment. And built stronger friendships as fellow racers in the NASA series.

Q: Last year you finished 2nd and third the year prior in the Texas AI championship points, tell us what's it going to take to win in 06'

A: I'm not to worried about the championship right now, John George (2004 and 2005 AI Champion) has a much bigger budget than I do and that equals seconds (less in lap times), last year after Mike Patterson left for Calif., John was way out front and I had a good lead on the next competitor which left me all alone.

For 2006, I've teamed with Chris Marvel whom has been my "developmental driver" for a few years and is not only fast but can tell me how to make the car better. He has been very successful in SCCA. We have a wish list and a Little bigger budget that hopefully will equate faster lap times. It will take some time, also consider the AI field is getting faster as a whole. I'm looking forward to some great racing with Chris Lyons, David Donovan, Jeff Brooks and rookie Matt White all of whom have really stepped it up.

Q: Have you raced any other series and how does it compare to NASA.

A: Have not!...however I was a Divisional SCCA Tech, Trans Am Tech and ran maybe 70 plus autocross events prior to finding NASA Texas. I've been around a lot of racing with the positions I held but nothing compares to the way we treat each other, I mean the BB Q's, we all pit together, we all help each other out, swap idea's. It's great, you won't find this elsewhere. I came to a NASA event in 2003 at TWS with a modified Mustang (that another Sanctioning bodies didn't have a class for) and not only could I run it in AI but might even be competitive, so I said "sign me up!"

Q: What is your favorite track and tell us about some of your most memorable races?

A: Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, without a doubt, it's a blast the elevation changes, blind turns, rough pavement. You've got to think on this track. It was my favorite the first time I drove it along time ago. When Mike Bell was a rookie (2003) the season ended with just 10 Pt's between us. I didn't have a motor, but I dogged him until he made a mistake and I had a grand time. I don't think Mike had the same thought. It was Fun racing

Q: How do you prepare yourself for a race and you are known for being extremely resourceful with your race car. Tell us what separates yourself from the rest of the AI group?

A: I spend every day thinking how to make the car better. Understanding why/where/how things work or how much more seconds I can shave off... My car is quicker than a budget suggests...the cars in AI are getting out of hand monetarily (the series is getting a lot more competitive). I can't afford to compete with that so I have to be smarter.

I do all my own Suspension work, all my own fabrication.. every thing, I'm very knowledgeable about the rule's which are wide open.

With Chris coming aboard as a driver, I made a huge list to make the car faster, due to a tight budget we are going to concentrate on a few items that will make the biggest impact which hopefully will keep us in championship contention.

Q:What is in the future for "Three Dog Racing", do you plan on making the NASA Nationals at Mid-Ohio?

A: Chris and I are looking forward to our second race of the season (MSR Cresson) as we both know the track very well, as I mentioned before we have a few changes to the car which should shave of a few seconds.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself when not racing and what do you do for a living?

A: I'm a Mechanical Design Engineer for NASA....a rocket Scientist? No, that's propulsion, I design hardware for some space stuff; like the back pack that helps the Astronaut's breath outside of the orbiter. I'll help train the Astronauts often in simulators mostly in the hardware usage. I'm married, and have a Son, Eric, whom just turned 15. And a Nephew that has lived with us for a long time and now is at Texas A&M. And My wife and I are expecting another child in August 2006.

I had planned to go to Mid-Ohio with Adam Ginsberg to tag along enjoy the experiance, see what everyone else is doing in the other regions, but with my wife due the first of August I don't see that happening. I'll just have to wait two weeks and have fun then, it's alot of fun.

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Series Road racing
Drivers John George , Mike Bell