Everything you should know to prepare for your first autocross!
How to Autocross
Autocross is a controlled competitive time trial racing event held over cone course of varying length. It is very fun, very technical sport, where finesse and technique can often mean more than raw horsepower. Autocross is also generally open to drivers of all skill levels, and is a great step for beginners to start racing. Of course, oftentimes very advanced drivers enter and compete in autocross.
Obviously, the first step is to register for an autocross event.You can usually do this by contacting a local car club or racetrack and asking for information. Registration fees are often small, usually around fifty dollars.
Once you arrive at the track, you must register your car as present.At the same time, you must get your car "teched". This only means it must be examined by the an attending technician. This is an overall, visual inspection, and it checks for basic integrity of vehicle parts. As long as your vehicle is generally well maintained and there is no significant structural issues, this inspection should not be a problem.
Once your car has been registered and teched, and you have been assigned a number, it is time to check out the course.There is no set layout for an autocross course, however, they are often tight and very curvy, to downplay the advantages of horsepower and speed and emphasize the advantages of experienced technical driving. Walk the course over and over. The best autocrossers learn the course so well, they actually memorize the whole course and every turn.
Once you feel you have a grasp of the course layout, apply what knowledge you have of your cars handling characteristics.For example, if you drive a powerful, front engine rear wheel drive (FR) car, the car may have a natural tendency to oversteer. Controlled oversteer can help you set faster times, but it can also be very difficult to control. If you drive a front wheel drive front engine (FF) car, it probably exhibits the natural tendency to understeer. While safer, and less scary, than oversteer, understeer can often slow your times rough curves. If you drive an all wheel drive car, these effects can be mixed and more neutral. There are other layouts, such as rear engine rear wheel drive (RR) and mid-engine rear wheel drive, which also have their own unique handling characteristics.
Using all that information, develop a plan on how you will attack the course.Keeping that in mind, almost every autocross event allows you to run multiple times. Line up as directed, and complete your first run slowly. You should always run slowly on your first lap. This is to allow your cars tires and brakes to warm, and because the course feels different from behind the wheel.
After your first run, if everything went well, try to get faster and faster, by making your turns smoother and smoother.Enjoy.
Video: How to Autocross Faster - Ep 1 - Analyzing Porsche Club Runs
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