Autocross Tips and Tricks

Tempted To Give Autocrossing A Try? Then These Tips Should Help.

Mary Pozzi May 1, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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One thing the Goodguys autocrosses don't offer but every other event will is the course walk and usually a map to go with it. Definitely take this opportunity to get acquainted with the course and, if you can, walk it with people who are experienced autocrossers, as they'll help you with the driving line, apexes, braking points, and the key corners and cones. Walk the course in the position of the driver's perspective and allow more room on your right side than your left. Your Camaro is about 5 feet wide and 7 feet long, so walk the course with that in mind. Depending on your run group or time, you'll want to either walk the course or get registered first. Ask at registration where tech inspection is and in which class your Camaro will run, where your run and work groups are, where grid is, and then take your Camaro to tech.

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Technical inspection isn't to be feared as it's a basic safety check to ensure your car is safe to compete. You can make this easier ahead of time by making sure that the battery is secured and not free to roam, all belts and hoses are in good condition, the fluids are at safe operating levels (I usually run the crankcase about a half-quart overfull), there's no "junk in the trunk" or the interior tires are properly inflated with no cord showing (most DOT street tires like 35-40 psi and this helps prevent them from rolling over), and that your helmet will pass inspection. If you're new to this sport, let registration know. They'll get you a mentor as they'll want to make sure you have a good experience and hopefully come back. There's so much happening at every autocross event. For example, your car has to be on grid, there's the course walk, you may be wondering where the tech is or what class you run in, whether your registration card is in the car and properly filled out or if everything's out of the car-that's brain overload even before your car turns a wheel on the course. Don't be rushed. Plan on about two hours to get all of this done before you run.

Riding Shotgun
As I mentioned before, let people know you are just starting out. Talk with those experienced drivers and ask to ride with them on a run or two or ask if they'll ride with you. If they're not in a heated points battle they'll usually say yes and you'll get a bird's-eye view of the course while seeing that driving line and those key cones, and you'll feel the sensations of speed and g-forces from the passenger seat. It's a terrific rush when those corners come up quick. I love handing passengers that light feeling in the pit of their gut when I mat the throttle and the torque kicks in. Riding shotgun helps boost your driving learning curve a ton.

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Ready, Set, Go
So, now you're sitting on grid, nervous as hell. You've forgotten all you learned during the course walk and the map they gave you is an unreadable soggy mess from your sweaty mitts. You're wondering what insane moment possessed you to even try an autocross and then suddenly you're at the starting line. The flagger signals you slowly forward and then motions you to stop. He's holding the green flag furled and watching the cars already on course to get the correct time spacing so you can start. You, on the other hand, are still trying to focus, all the while looking intently ahead trying to remember where you need to go once that green flag drops. Before you realize it, the starter unfurls that green and you're off! And this is where the "driving smart" comes in.


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