An autocross is a timed course that is comprised of slaloms and turns marked with street cones. Within a controlled environment such as a large parking lot, autocross courses test the driver’s precision, allowing him or her to compete with other drivers in a safe environment. In addition to competing for the best time, drivers must navigate around cones or else receive a 2 second penalty for each cone hit. Drivers must also stay on course or they will receive a DNF (Did Not Finish) for that run.
To Get Started With Autocrossing…
MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTICIPATING IN AN AUTOCROSS:
To compete in an autocross, one must have a valid driver’s license. Some regions provide cars as rentals for events. Most autocross events are open to the public, but some may limit participation to SCCA or NASA (National Auto Sport Association) members. Registered SCCA members are covered by insurance in case an accident related to the event occurs.
CHOOSE YOUR CAR:
Most vehicles, with the exception of SUVs and pickup trucks, may be entered into solo events. Cars are divided into classes based on performance level and modifications. To find out what rules are listed for cars and how classes are determined, refer to the website National SCCA. When racing, all cars must be labeled with the number and class. Using large vinyl numbers or painters tape is permitted.
Although the event order may vary by region, we will refer to the Washington DC region to explain what to expect on race day. After pre-registering on your region’s website, you will be assigned either a morning or afternoon session. In addition to participating in the race, each registrant must volunteer to assist with working on the course. While others are racing, volunteers will be assigned to worker stations on the course and will collect cones that are hit by cars. This helps keep the cost down for registration and is also helpful to provide a closer view of driving techniques on the course.
FINALIZE REGISTRATION AND COMPLETE TECH INSPECTION:
When you first arrive, you and any spectators will need to sign a liability waiver. Then you will finalize registration and receive more information about the course and your worker assignment. Once your car has been emptied of any loose items including floor mats and you have made any other needed preparations, you will go to Tech Inspection. Once your car passes, you will receive a sticker on the windshield of your car and you can drive to the grid area.
PARTICIPATE IN DRIVER’S MEETING AND WALK THE COURSE:
There is a drivers’ meeting before the session begins. This is where you receive important information regarding policies and will have the opportunity to meet the SCCA hosts. Shortly after, as a group, the hosts will walk the course with everyone. For beginners, an optional special walk through is available so that you can learn pointers on how to navigate the course.
Visit Matt’s Autocross YouTube Channel
Matt races in the Washington DC Region SCCA Solo events. After purchasing a GoPro HERO HD camera, he has started filming the events while racing his 2009 VW GTI. If you have any questions related to autocrossing, visit his channel and leave a comment or leave a comment below.