Author Topic: Autocross FAQ  (Read 14980 times)

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Rich@Shift

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Autocross FAQ
« on: Jul 15, 09, 17:22 »
We've had quite a few inquiries about autocross and other forms of grassroots motorsports at the shop lately, so we thought we'd post up some information to share with all the Dubberz.
Generally we refer to grassroots motorsports as easily accessible and affordable racing opportunities that you can take part in with your street car or a modified performance car.
 
In this post, we'll attempt to illustrate what a typical local autocross day looks like and encourage more people to take part in these driver skill oriented events.
Please feel free to post any questions you have about autocross in this thread.  We'll do our best to address all of your inquiries and get you goin and havin some fun on the track asap.
 
 
The local clubs that organize the events are UBC Sports Car Club and the VCMC Motorsport Club.  Other smaller clubs sometimes organize events in cooperation with the two big clubs.  If and when there is enough interest, we should be able to organize VW events as well. :)
 
So a typical autocross day starts with your drive out to the BC Driving Centre in Pitt Meadows.  

 
It is super important to drive slowly around the facillity so we can keep the neighbors happy.

 
The BCDC is a purpose built paved pad at the Pitt Meadows Airport.  Depending on the size of the event, the clubs can use the adjacent runway and the taxiway.

 
A corner of the pad is setup as the pits and this is where you can park your car for the day when not racing.  You can take out all the loose items out of your car and safely leave them for the day.

 
Any safe car is good for autox.  The car does not need to be modified, and if it is, the mods should be safe.  When you're ready, you pull up your car into the grid where technical inspection will confirm that it is good to go.


You can usually consult with the tech inspector about which class you should run your car in.  Local clubs run the SCCA classing system that splits cars up based on their performance potential as well as level of modification.  As you can see with the car below, it really doesn't matter what you try autocrossing with.

 
When your car is teched, you proceed to registration.  The events are very cheap (40$) and even cheaper if you register online ahead of the event (30$).  Registration will give you a course map and some information for the day.

 
Now comes the most important part of the day, the course walk.  The beauty of autocross is that the race course is different every event.  However, this means that you have to take some time to familiarize yourself with the course.

 
Although the course map helps, it is best to memorize the layout and the line you intend to take.  There is always an organized group walk for novice drivers but you can also grap any other non-novice driver to check out the coruse with you.

 
The last thing before the racing begins is the driver's meeting.  The event organizer will go over some regulations and the schedule for the day.

 
For every heat you run, you need to work one heat.  So you're either lining your car up in grid to start running:

 
Or you're reporting to the chief of workers to get assigned a worker station.  The entire event is run by it's participants so it's very important to check in.  

If you're a novice, it's very beneficial to be on course chasing knocked over cones as that will give you an opportunity to see how the course runs.
 
One last prep and some course input from a fellow racer

 
Or you just may be helping out your dad to get setup for his runs:


Finally you line up for the start.  Go over the course in your head one more time before the starter gives you the green light.

 
Once on course, you do your best to look ahead and drive smooth and as fast as possible.

 
If you nail a cone or get off course, no big deal.  Try to get back on track and take advantage of the rest of the run.

 
Once you're back in grid, wait for your hands to stop shaking, regroup yourself and take a look at your time.

 
This is also a good opportunity to think about what just happened and consult with other people about your run and how to do it better and go faster.

 
While waiting for your next run, you can usually chit chat with others and watch people's runs.  Quite a friendly crowd attends the events and it's one of the few opportunities you have to talk cars all day if you wish.

 
There is generally ~3-4 runs per heat so you get to line up and do the entire thing again.

 
Think about how to improve on your previous run while waiting for the course to be clear.

 
Things usually get better each run and the grin on your face only gets larger.  Making the car dance on the edge of grip is an awesome feeling.

 
There are multiple heats per day so you'll get some opportunities after lunch as well.  When it's all said and done, it's off to the pits to get all your stuff together.  If you autocross all the time, it's not a bad idea to get some R-Compound race tires and switch them over before/after the event.

However, most people run on their street tires and r-compounds are not neccessary till you start going to big events.
 
With an adrenaline filled day under your belt, it's back off to the streets and home to relive the day in your head.  

It's important to remember to bring your driving intensity way down when back on public roads.  Anyways, most people find that racing on weekends takes the aggression out of them and they drive better and more calmly on the street.
 
Hopefully the above pictorial shines some light on the local autocross opportunities.  If we've missed anything or you have questions, let us know and we can update the thread.
For more information on upcoming autocross events, please visit the local clubs forums at www.ubcscc.com and www.vcmc.ca.
If you are unsure of the suitability of your car or it's modifications for any form of grassroots motorsports, drop by the shop anytime and we'd be glad to help you.
Anybody looking to sign up for an upcoming event can give us a call to set up a free pre-event tech inspection.
« Last Edit: Jul 15, 09, 19:48 by Rich@Shift »
Shift Autosport Inc.
2287 Willingdon Ave.
604-568-1848

jesse

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #1 on: Jul 15, 09, 20:49 »
Very nice! I would like to stress that ANY car can be out there and compete (as long as its safe)  and also if you think you are some hot shot driver but have never been on the track you will surely be disappointed in your self, so don't show up with a cocky attitude!

syncroboy

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #2 on: Jul 15, 09, 22:01 »
Nice write-up Rich.  Mods please make this thread a Sticky :thumbup:
"..here at Dubberz.com we like to live in the 60's where cars are cool, fitness is awesome, drinking is good for you, and womanizing is encouraged."  TARGET

tetelestia

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #3 on: Jul 15, 09, 23:14 »
Absolutely awesome post. Answered so many questions that I was far too timid to admit to not knowing. I'll be a lot more comfortable now showing up knowing how it all works.

Hopefully I can get out this fall and see how I do!

blaze one

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #4 on: Jul 16, 09, 01:16 »
Very informative write-up . Looks like a lot of fun .

I'm just kickin' my self for having the "slushbox" tranny .
MKIV Galactic Blue JETTA 2.sloh Fully loaded

RONDAL

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #5 on: Jul 16, 09, 09:23 »
awesome write up!
TEAM HIGHSCHOOL
I find intelligence inhibits my ability to enjoy dubberz.  It's like playing chess at a go-fish tournament

matt15

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #6 on: Jul 16, 09, 10:27 »
great write up Rich! can't wait to get out to one of these events...
Currently VW-less

DaCoupe

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #7 on: Jul 16, 09, 11:27 »
A very nice write up. So for first time people its $30 if you register online is that the only cost or do you need to become a member?
Quote from: Cheesetoast

I got to page 17 and had to take a dump, so i brought the laptop into the can.

Sead

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #8 on: Jul 16, 09, 21:09 »
Absolutely awesome post. Answered so many questions that I was far too timid to admit to not knowing. I'll be a lot more comfortable now showing up knowing how it all works.
Hopefully I can get out this fall and see how I do!
It's all about learning and figuring things out in order to get better/faster.  Once you get pretty decent at it, you start comparing times with others and getting competitive.
If you really get hooked by it (like I am), then you really start looking at all the different ways to improve your driving and prep your car to the max of the class.

The calibre of the events really varies.  Most of the local events are club events, suitable for novices.   Then you kick it up a notch and do the novice series and you can win some prizes.  There are only a couple big events locally and a few more in Washington.  If you do well at the US National Tour events, you can win some cash from VW and tires from Hoosier/Toyo/Bridgestone.

I'm just kickin' my self for having the "slushbox" tranny .
Don't worry about it, just leave it in 2 and rock on!  You don't do a lot of shifting anyways unless you have a super close ratio gearbox.  Think about where redline is in 2nd and you'll realize it's fast enough  :yes:

A very nice write up. So for first time people its $30 if you register online is that the only cost or do you need to become a member?

You need to be a member of the club putting the even on.  It is quite cheap and some clubs offer you a free event with your membership.
« Last Edit: Jul 16, 09, 21:13 by Sead »

blaze one

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #9 on: Jul 17, 09, 03:11 »
"just leave it second " .... I didn't think of that , I will gave to come down one event and have look . Thanks
MKIV Galactic Blue JETTA 2.sloh Fully loaded

NCabbyT

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #10 on: Jul 20, 09, 09:59 »
Great post Rich, thanks.

I used to autocross my Mk4 Jetta, and my Focus ZX3 up in Prince George back in the day.  The fastest person out of the group was a girl with a Z06 who would leave it in first.  It was awesome listening to it bounce off the limiter in the straights!  LOL

bradige

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #11 on: Jul 25, 09, 20:43 »
Great post. Most people I talk to dont want to wreck there cars by comming out to an event. I have been doing AutoX events for 3yrs now with the same car and I havent had any problems other that regular maintenance. It is sad to think but most people drive there cars as hard or harder on the street. Bottom line is it is a great way to find the limits of your car and improve on your driving skills.
Don,t be afraid to give it a try :thumbup: Besides we need more VW support out there! :toothy:

lu vr6

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #12 on: Aug 04, 09, 00:15 »
I'd like to give this a shot, just gotta pickup some proper tires first.

blaze one

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #13 on: Aug 04, 09, 01:06 »
I think I will come out and spectate the next session . Looks like a good reason to keep my car .

A DOT approved helmet is required i presume ... and good places to pic up a relativly cheap one ?
MKIV Galactic Blue JETTA 2.sloh Fully loaded

syncroboy

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #14 on: Aug 29, 09, 15:30 »
I think I will come out and spectate the next session . Looks like a good reason to keep my car .

A DOT approved helmet is required i presume ... and good places to pic up a relativly cheap one ?

Actually, the rules currently state that you need a "Snell 2000" or later spec. helmet.  DOT helmets are not good enough.  Any motorcycle shop will sell Snell approved helmets at all price levels.
"..here at Dubberz.com we like to live in the 60's where cars are cool, fitness is awesome, drinking is good for you, and womanizing is encouraged."  TARGET

Sead

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #15 on: Sep 09, 09, 15:18 »
Here is a good FAQ from UBCSCC: http://www.ubcscc.com/autoxfaq.shtml

And from VCMC: http://www.vcmc.ca/faq.html

Sead

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #16 on: Sep 30, 09, 21:57 »
Sheesh, I wish we had courses like this locally:

Jeff Kiesel KFR Turbo Sprite El Toro 3/1/09

bradige

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #17 on: Oct 01, 09, 20:59 »
 :o :o :o

16v of fury

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #18 on: Dec 24, 09, 15:53 »
heres a little ditty from back when i used to run in these events...havent been in a year or so...
Pitt Meadows VCMC Autocross

in car
Pitt Meadows VCMC Autocross

Not worth it, that would be like getting arrested for assaulting a mentally handicapped paraplegic becuase he threw first punch

syncroboy

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 10, 23:33 »
A good autocross documentary from SCCA San Diego Region:

"..here at Dubberz.com we like to live in the 60's where cars are cool, fitness is awesome, drinking is good for you, and womanizing is encouraged."  TARGET

Sead

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Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #20 on: Jun 06, 10, 20:36 »

Sead

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  • controlled chaos
Re: Autocross FAQ
« Reply #21 on: Aug 10, 12, 14:18 »
How To Win An Autocross
 alex lloyd
Next to drinking a beer in the Talladega grandstands, autocrossing has the lowest physical risk in motorsports. If you go off, you'll just squash a few orange cones. But the lower risk can actually make winning an autocross harder.

Yes, the biggest risk in autocrossing isn't hitting a wall. It's overdriving.
If you've mastered the column in which I proclaimed, "To drive fast, you must drive like an idiot," you will likely be seeing good progress on your road-course skills. But on an autocross, the fear of crashing and smashing your prized car (and your head) becomes a non-issue. A driver that struggles to overcome the fear will not suffer that disadvantage on an autocross. So it will be far more evenly matched.

I won't sit here and tell you I am an autocross expert. Truth be told, I have only competed in two events (although I have autocrossed many cars in a non competitive environment). But, I did win both comfortably. I pride myself on being able to adapt my driving to correspond with various cars and conditions. That is how I have been successful in my racing career, and autocross is no different. You look at the layout, procedures and car that you are driving and adjust your approach to suit.

The theory behind autocrossing is very simple: Go around the coned course as quickly as physically possible, without hitting anything. Winning an autocross isn't rocket science. We just need to concentrate on a few key points.

Focus on solid pre-race preparation. Make the most of your track walk or parade lap, and pay attention to the other racers when they are on course doing their runs. We are looking to get a good feel for the layout, memorize where the track goes and determine which are the most important sections. At the same time, note any undulations or cambers in the road. If there are some we must understand what that will do to the car and devise the appropriate line to compensate, prior to going on track at speed. Of course, if our planned line does not play out as expected, be ready to adjust on the fly.

Work on coming out of the blocks at full race pace. You can't afford to take a few turns to get into the groove, which is why I am emphasizing the pre-race preparation. This way you will eliminate a few crucial laps of learning and instead focus on technique. Once on track, you must understand what you are trying to achieve. Autocross is about attacking the course extremely hard and doing so straight off the bat. You don't get a chance to build up to speed, so you must explode out of the blocks like Usain Bolt.

Drive it to the very limit, but not beyond. Know the difference between driving on the edge and "over driving." Pushing to the max produces a fault in most amateurs. They can't differentiate between driving on the edge and "over driving." They think, "the harder I drive, the faster I'll go," but there is a point where you are just asking too much of the car. You are sliding and scrubbing speed, and while it may look spectacular and fast from the outside, it is actually slow. The quick guys generally look rather pedestrian-like. This is because they have the car on the limit, but they do not exceed it.

Work on accuracy and technique to minimize understeer. If you race autocross you probably spend more time fighting understeer than Kim Kardashian does buying shoes. There are plenty of reasons for this: An autocross course is usually low grip, the corners are often tight and prone to creating understeer and the car is likely set up with a hint of push, to prevent your wife from spinning into an old lady when turning into the Target parking lot. Combine all this together and you have a big pushy mess.

Full size
We can fix some of that by driving. Firstly, trail brake. A lot. Ride the brake right down to apex to keep the weight on the nose. Be patient when getting back to throttle. Don't do it before you are at the point you know you can fully commit to it. If you do it a fraction too early (which is especially common when rushing to get that fast lap) then you will induce understeer, as the back will squat and front will be left with zero grip. If this manifests then you will be back to full power late and therefore be slow down the straight. When you do get back to power, focus on getting to full power just a fraction sooner every time. The quicker we can go from partial throttle, to full throttle, the faster we will be.

Finesse is also important. Hitting a cone will destroy your race, based on the time penalty associated, but we cannot leave a safety margin or we will be too slow. You must work on consistency and accuracy first, then, once that is achieved, push to the absolute max.

It seems simple, right? And it is. Being fast is about being in control. It shouldn't feel rushed or frantic. You should be able to hum a little tune.

At Sonoma Raceway in 2007, I had to win the race to be crowned the Indy Lights Champion. I was leading with 5 to go and had a guy just inches off my gearbox. Suddenly, the world's most annoying song popped into my head (Seal's Kiss From A Rose). No idea why, but I started humming it. I even broke down into chorus.

The guy behind me never stood a chance. I took the checkered, and took the Championship.

About the author: @Alex_Lloyd began racing in the U.S. in 2006. He won the Indy Lights championship in 2007. He's competed in the Daytona 24-hour twice and the Indianapolis 500 four times placing fourth in 2010. The native of MADchester, UK began racing karts at age 8, open-wheel race cars at 16 and finished second to Formula One World Champion - and close friend - Lewis Hamilton, in the 2003 British Formula Renault Championship, followed by a stint representing Great Britain in A1GP and winning races in Formula 3000. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife Samantha (also from England) and three young "Hoosier" children. He also enjoys racing in triathlons and is rather partial to good old English cup of tea. But not crumpets.