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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Another thing I do is take tire temperatures and adjust pressures based on car feel. This is an individual adjustment and one that's done based on if the car's loose or tight. If it's loose, or oversteering, then the rear's stepping out and I want to identify where that's happening. If it's on corner entry, then I've gotten in too deep while simultaneously turning the steering wheel, over-anticipating my apex and corner exit. If it's tail happy on corner exit, then my right foot is to blame and I need to soften my application of the go pedal or only add power when the car's straight. If the car's tight, then it's understeering or pushing like a proverbial dump truck. This I hate, as it means the front end's too stiff or I've done a very bonehead thing, like doing a banzai dive-bomb attack into a corner expecting the car to make me a rock star. You can make little tweaks to the tire pressures and can correct for some of the inherent tight and loose handling quirks. Tire sidewalls are compressible so think of each tire like a mini-shock absorber and an adjustable one at that.

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If your Camaro has adjustable sway bars and shocks, you have even more in your handling arsenal than you can take advantage of. Personally, I like my car to rotate when I trail brake into a corner. This happens starting before the corner and from gradual brake pressure that gets huge the closer I am to the apex. I'm turning the steering wheel during the approach to my apex and then start back on power when almost on it. The rear end's getting light as the front end is just approaching threshold grip. The rear starts to come around while I'm nearing the apex and then I move weight back to the rear by adding throttle while unwinding the steering wheel. The car doesn't track but slides around the corner and if I clobber the apex cone, I've entered the corner too slow, which also sucks. At no time am I looking at the wheel or even the car as I'm focused on what's ahead of me.

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There's an old saying: "In slow, out fast. In fast, out backward." This is so true and should be your mantra for autocrossing, or any type of motorsports for that matter. With autocross, you want to lengthen that "power on" area, which means you want to start laying down the throttle at or before your corner apex. You have to create these straight sections within the slaloms and offset elements so look for them during your course walk; there will be sections that your car can fit through without using brakes or steering. It takes skill, confidence, and big 'nads to find and then haul the mail through these sections. If you brake early and get your Camaro slowed down, you can get to that apex and not be sliding past it with the brakes locked, which then means you can get turned and headed toward the next element under power a hell of a lot sooner. Aside from flat spotting your tires, you'll lose valuable time by getting in deep to each corner compared to time spent slowing down early before the entrance. Trust me on this, too.

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