After a couple posts in the last few months regarding Autocross and advice, I have put this together for new and experience enthusiastes to read.
Autocross is often referred to as Solo II. For all intent and purposes, I will keep it simple and call it Autocross.
Simply put, Autocross is timed motorsport that typically occurs in a parking lot or abandoned airport. Competitors must pilot there cars around a pre-designed course marked my small rubber pylons. Autocross is a very safe form of racing as it tends to keep speeds relatively low. It is a fun and challenging form of motorsports that requires the driver’s skill in three different ways: acceleration, maneuverability, and deceleration.
Finding an event:
Autocross events occur quite frequently all around North America. My club hosts 9 local events at the largest parking lot in the city (an NHL arena). They are scheduled from June to mid-October.
Internet forums are a great place to find an event. They have led you to my post hasn’t it? There are people constantly posting in events forums (on local car forums) or in the regional sections of larger forums like this one.
Another way to find an event is to look it up on google. That is how I found the Motorsports Club of Ottawa, and read through their site to find the Autocross Schedule.
Things to bring to an event:
-comfortable shoes that can be tied up
-a helmet (although helmets can usually be rented)
-clothing that is not overly baggy
-a car if you wish to drive
-an air compressor (optional)
-a tire pressure gauge (optional)
-a roll of masking tape (used to put numbers on your car/windows)(optional)
-a polite and positive attitude (mandatory..hah)
Cost to Autocross:
Like everything in life, there is a cost associated with Autocross. The club I belong to charges $30 for members and $40 . Spectators are giving free admission, although they must sign an insurance waiver. Also, spectators are aloud to ride a long for free!
Helmet rental is an additional $5.
Most events have a set timing schedule. A schedule may be similar to the following;
7:30am – Set-up Crew Arrives
8:00am – Registration Opens
8:30am – Course Walks begin
9:30am – Novice Course Walk
9:45am – Driver’s meeting
10:00am – First car off
~12:30 – Lunch Break (will typically wait until the highest numbered car has gone)
~1:00 – First car off after lunch
~5:00 – End of Competition
~6:30 – Dinner and awards
Bringing your own car:
I’m sure if you are reading my little write-up, you have some kind of interest in racing. Owning a quick little sporty car like ours, you ache to legally let it loose. Autocross is the perfect opportunity for this.
Most autocross clubs/associations do not permit any loose objects inside or on a car when competing. This includes coins, old receipts and all. I spent a good couple hours cleaning my Redline before my first event. I had a couple old receipts stuck under my seats, and coins in my cup holders. Once you start twisting around and moving, these objects can go flying. I typically leave me car open to the elements all day, and a gust of wind could snag a piece of paper and send it flying across the track. This can be a HUGE distraction for a racer. Another bonus to a clean car, is there are always professional photographers at events taking pictures. They usually give out lower quality resolution pictures for free (ideal for web), but charge like $15 bucks for the original, or like $25 for a large print. They mostly do it for the love of taking pictures, I just like seeing my car in action.
Fill your tires up with air before you go. I usually fill mine up to about 40psi all around. You want a lot of air in your tires for two reasons; it is easier to release compressed air, than it is to pump air into it and the firmer your tires, the less chance of your sidewalls rolling and you riding on your rim.
Bring some shoe polish, bar of white soap, whatever, something white that rubs off easily. Mark your tires on the edges and down the sidewall with a good 1” thick strip in a couple spots on each tire. After your first or second run, you will be able to see how far over your tires are rolling-over, if it is taking a lot of the stuff off, use that pump, or borrow one to fill the tires up some more.
It is a good idea to have a car that is in good working condition, i.e. no rusted parts that could fall off, no leaks of anything. Leaks are dangerous and could cause an accident. If you know your car is leaking someone, do not take it to an event to race. Check your belt (s) for cracking or wear. Excessive high rpm’s may be too much for it(they) to handle.
This is where the organizers inspect your car for safety and modifications. The SCCA has their own classing system, which I am not very familiar with. You can find information here SCCA
I will inform you of how our club classes vehicles based on their own system.MCO
This is to guide you in the right direction, not a guide to tell you what class your car is actually in. Our club divides cars up into 5 different classes (a-e). Each car is given a ‘stock point’ value, based on the cars HP, weight and handling characteristics. Each class has a certain point range. For example Class-A is 100-74, Class-B is 74-67, Class-C is 67-60, Class-D is 60-52 and Class-E is anything below 52 points. Modifications add whole number points to a cars stock point base.
Brief example taken from MCO website; (I couldn't copy the table into this post, so I 'attempted' to re-create it with "..." )
......................................Stock....Lig htly Modified..... Moderately Modified....Heavily Modified
Wheel, Tires, and Brakes.........0...............2.................. ........4................6........
Suspension...........................0............ ....2.........................4................6.. ......
Engine and Drive train.............0................1.............. ...........2................4........
Weight Reduction and Bodywork..0............1.......................... 2................4.
1993 Honda Civic Si: Base Percentage is 55.5 with the following modifications
• 16x7 wheels with Azenis—2points
• Drop Springs, base Konis, sway bars—4 points
• Header, intake, exhaust—1points
Total points = 7 points added on to the base of 55.5 gives you 62.5 and will be classed in Class C
1990 Mazda Miata: Base Percentage is 62.2 with the following modifications
• 15x8 Lightweight wheels with Hoosiers, large brake kit—6 points
• Coilovers, swaybars—4 points
• Header, intake, exhaust – 1 point
Total points = 11 points added on to the base of 61.7 gives you 72.7 and will be classed in Class B
Organizers will often take into consideration a driver’s experience. If you are just starting out, tell them, they may knock you a class down, just so you don’t get completely blown out of the water, a confidence thing for your first year.