WHAT IS AUTOCROSS/SOLO II
Solo II is the SCCA brand name for autocross competition. Autocross, or Solo II events, are driving skill contests that emphasize the driver's ability and the car's handling through a course 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.
EQUIPMENT GUIDE FOR AUTOCROSSERS
Autocross is one of the most affordeable forms of motorsports. Basically all you need is your car and a helmet...however there are several other products we recommend to enhance your experience and have put together a comprehensive guide to help you out.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR FIRST EVENT
Listed below are some general guidelines for novice autocrossers. For your first event, you don't necessarily need to adhere to all of our suggestions below. Heck, for your first event, just make sure your car is in good working order, and if it is, just go and have some fun. Ask alot of questions, and try to hook up with some experienced racers. If you have fun and want to continue honing your autocross skills, come back to this guide, study it some more, and you'll probably find some ideas that will make you a better autocrosser.
You can never know too much. Study this guide as much as possible and also review the websites
listed at the bottom of this page. If you autocross long enough, you'll soon realize that you
learn something new at every event. It can't hurt though to know as much as possible before
your first race!
Study the rule book and know your class
If you are going to attend an SCCA autocross event, study their Solo II rulebook and try to find out
what class your car is in. You can find out more by visiting
FINDING AN EVENT
Check out the SCCA website for a local region or find a local sports car club. They'll have a calendar of events and you can make arrangements to attend one of their events. First timers are more than welcome. Make it known that its your first time, and someone will be glad to show you the
WHAT TO BRING TO AN EVENT
Check out the SoloRacer.com Autocross Checklist (printable)
WHAT HAPPENS AT AN AUTOCROSS/SOLO II EVENT
When you get to the event site, get your car prepped for the upcoming tech inspection. Remove all
the loose items from the interior and trunk. If you have hubcaps or lug nut covers on your wheels,
remove them as well. This might be a good time to make sure your tire pressures are where you want
them. If you are fortunate enough to be running race tires, get changed over to
Registering for an autocross event requires a valid driver's license and an entry fee (usually $20 to $30). Knowing your class and car number ahead of time will also make things run smoother. You will also be asked to sign an insurance waiver.
Your car must pass a tech inspection before you can compete. They will check to make sure your car
is safe to compete by checking over various items on your car (tires, wheels, battery, brakes, etc).
They will also require that any loose items in your car be removed (jack, floor mats, spare change,
etc). Once completed, the tech inspector will sign your card if you pass, or recommend changes to make the car pass.
After the tech inspection, it is imparitive that you walk the course. This is especially important
for first timers, but it is a must for any autocrosser. Without a course walk, you will be lost
once you get out there in your car. Most events will also have a novice course walk just before
the drivers meeting. Try to have the course memorized before you go on the guided walk, and definitely before its time to run. If course maps are not provided, we recommend a pen and paper be used to draw the course out. This will be handy later if you are having trouble remembering something from your course walk.
The drivers' meeting is mandatory for all drivers. The event chair will hold the meeting approximately one half hour before the first car starts. Be sure to attend. This is where you will find out information you'll need to know about the course conditions, number of runs, particular safety concerns, how penalties are assessed, and how work assignments will be handled.
This is what you've been waiting for! Most autocross events will have between 3-6 runs per event.
This means that you will get between 3 and 6 laps around the course you walked earlier. It doesnt
seem like much, but once you finish your first run, we gaurantee you will be hooked. Cars will
be gridded by class in the run groups announced during the drivers meetings. Depending on the size
of the event, you may get a couple runs in the morning, and then maybe a few more in the afternoon, with your rest and work sessions somewhere in between.
Working the Course
And you thought that all you would be doing is driving. Everyone who competes in an autocross event
must also work. Work assignments vary. Most people will work somewhere out on the course, helping pick up downed cones, etc. However there are various other work assignments that exist (timer,
announcer, flagger, etc). Report for your work assignment as soon as you hear your group announced.
This will make for a speedy transition from group to group.
Well, if you did well, you will definitely want to attend the awards ceremony after the event. Most
clubs give out small prizes for each class, and also usually for Fast Time of the Day (FTD). This
is also a good time to chear on your fellow competitors...and check out your competition.
Some events will run fun runs after the competition runs have been completed. This is a great time
to work on your driving and try different things. These fun runs usually cost $1 per run.
This is a must. Please stick around and help clean up after the event is over. Many people have worked their butts off so that you could compete, now its your turn to return the favor and help collect cones and so on.
COURSE WALKING TIPS
Walking the course is one of the most important things you can do come race day. The better you know
the course, the faster you'll be. Here are some suggestions...
- Walk the course as many times as possible.
- For longer courses, draw the course on a notepad for review later in the day.
- Take your time while studying the course, paying special attention to "the line".
- Try to pick out a few "key cones" along the course and make a note of them.
- Try to figure out if you will need to shift gears (up OR down) anywhere on course. You will find that most racers get their car into 2nd gear and leave it there for the duration of the run, however certain courses may require that you downshift to 1st gear at some time during your run...or possibly even upshift to 3rd. Try to figure that out on your course walk.
The driver is the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to autocrossing. A fast car
helps, but without a competent driver, that fast car, will end up having slow times around the course. Here are a few tips...
- Look ahead! Look at where you want to go, not what you want to miss (ie. the cones)
- Be smooth on the gas, on the brakes, and with the steering wheel
- Go slow to go fast. Dont take the tight sections too fast.
- Brake hard! Use your brakes HARD to slow the car, thats what they're for.
- Launch at higher RPM's than you're used to, but try to limit wheelspin.
- Limit gear changes. On most courses, get it into 2nd gear and leave it there. Some courses,
and some cars, will require downshifting/upshifting, but if you're new to the sport, get it into 2nd and
leave it there so you can concentrate on other things - you're gonna be busy in the car!
THINGS TO REMEMBER ON RACE DAY
Here are a FEW general things to do/remember on race day...
- Walk the course as many times as you can
- Visualize the course as you sit on the grid waiting for each run
- Use your first run to study the course, go slow if you have to
- Monitor your tire pressures between runs (they will increase with each run)
- If you get a chance, ride with one of the local hot shoes
- Have fun!!!
Autocross FAQ - Courtesy of the San Francisco Region SCCA
Autocross Novice Handbook - Courtesy of the Glen Region SCCA
Solo II Car Classifications - Courtesy of the SCCA
SCCA Region Locator - Courtesy of the SCCA
Tire Tech (all you ever wanted to know!) - Courtesy of Tire Rack
Maximum Performance Tire Test Results - Courtesy of Tire Rack
Ultra High Performance Tire Test Results - Courtesy of Tire Rack
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