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 Intro to Autocross

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Male Number of posts : 1384
Age : 35
Location : Chelsea, AL
Drives : GG IX MR SE
Registration date : 2007-07-09

PostSubject: Intro to Autocross   Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:43 am

It seems that autocross is quite popular with the Evo crowd, so maybe this little informative post can help some of the new comers get a feel for it before they dive in blindly.


Autocross, or "solo" events are described by the SCCA as ...

Quote :
Solo events are driving skill contests that emphasize the driver's ability and the car's handling characteristics. This is accomplished by driving a course that is designated by traffic cones on a low hazard location, such as a parking lot or inactive airstrip. While speeds are no greater than those normally encountered in legal highway driving, the combination of concentration and car feedback creates an adrenaline pumping experience.

Autocross is much different, than say, drag racing. In a drag race, it's usually the car with the most power and traction that wins. A lot of drag racers also prefer an automatic transmission to effectively take the driver out of the equation as much as possible.

With autocross, it's all about the driver. It's not uncommon to see an 80 hp Honda turn much faster times than a Corvette on the course. What the race really comes down to is the driver's ability to push the car to the limit while keeping the power to the ground and choosing (and holding) the best "line" through the course.


The rules are pretty simple. You drive the course and try to get the fastest time possible. If you hit a cone, two (2) seconds are added to your time for each cone assaulted. Your fastest time of the day is what counts.


Now, I'm not saying that the car or equipment doesn't play a significant role in the outcome of the race. Consider the Evo's biggest rival ... the STi. At an autocross event, the STi actually has a slight advantage over the Evo. The STi's higher displacement motor and smaller turbo can produce much needed torque lower in the rev band and this is very helpful on tight, low-speed courses. However, an experienced driver in an Evo can offset this utilizing certain techniques such as left-foot braking.

Tires are definitely the piece of equipment that yield the greatest return on an autocross course. Tire size and compound can often place a competitor far ahead of the rest of the field.

Suspension prep is also important. A well balanced car will more easily hold the line you want and allow the driver's skills to come to life.

What you need

Technically, all you need to bring to the event is your vehicle and funds to pay the entry fee. You are required to wear an approved helmet while driving the course, but there will be loaner helmets at the event. I found this great checklist when I first started. I would suggest looking it over before your first few events. If nothing else, BRING SUNBLOCK!

Other things to know

If you race, you have to work the course. Working the course means that you will be on your feet in the blistering mid-day sun (see note above) often sprinting to reset cones that a Miata or BMW just plowed over. Plan on doing this for around 3 hours. It's not all bad though ... if you work before you run you have a chance to take in the course and identify problem areas. It is also a great opportunity to get to know your fellow drivers.

Walk the course! You never want to drive the course blind. When you walk the course, visualize (or even physically walk) your racing line. Consider braking points and trouble areas as well. This will do nothing but improve your time.

You will likely not get a lunch break. If you do have any time at all, it will be about long enough to hit a drive through and get back. It's a good idea to bring non-perishable snacks to munch on between heats. Drinks are a must as these events are generally held in empty parking lots which means the the nearby venue is likely closed. The event's I've attended usually order pizza for anyone that wants it and have canned drinks available for purchase.

Autocrossers are generally nice people. Don't be afraid to ask for driving tips or a ride. Most everyone loves to share their knowledge and experience with new drivers. It's a great atmosphere and there is always someone ready to lend a hand if you need a tool (or beverage or SUNBLOCK).

You are really only competing against other drivers in your own class, but pushing to compete with faster cars can sometimes help you improve your times. Pick someone that's running a little faster than you and try to match their time.

Good luck on the course!

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Last edited by on Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Male Number of posts : 801
Age : 38
Location : Alabama
Drives : TB VIII
Registration date : 2007-07-09

PostSubject: Re: Intro to Autocross   Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:31 pm

Thanks for writing this up.
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